Spectator Sports Around Naples
There’s a lot to love about Naples, but it’s not exactly the world’s busiest sports town. This is actually a little bit surprising. There are a ton of sports at both the collegiate and professional level all over Florida, and with Naples being an increasingly popular town you’d think there might be a few major stadiums. This is not the case. But the good thing for any sports fan visiting Florida is that you’re never too far from some good sporting action. These are a few of the teams and stadiums that make for reasonable day trips while you’re staying in Naples.
It’s a little bit easy to suggest you could just drive to Miami, but it’s football season so we may as well start with the closest NFL team. And this is a more reasonable trip than some might expect. With good traffic it’s only about a two hour drive (if not a little bit less), and parts of it are fairly scenic as you pass through the Everglades. The Dolphins aren’t exactly the class of the NFL of late, and there’s chatter about benching the starting quarterback, former Bears signal caller Jay Cutler. But Hard Rock Stadium is always a nice place for a game, particularly in the second half of the season when the heat eases off a little bit. It’s in the suburbs, so you don’t have to mess with city traffic if you don’t like, and you can make it to a game and back with ease from Naples.
As long as we’re talking about Miami, and basketball season is about to start, we should mention the Heat. Unlike Hard Rock, the Heat’s American Airlines Arena is in the heart of the city, so getting there can be a little bit more of a hassle. That said, it’s a really cool venue right on the water, and gives you the chance to explore Miami a bit. Things with the Heat aren’t as exciting these days as when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were in town, but they’re not bad either. It’s a young team that was stellar at times last season, and one outlook said that in the best case scenario they could be one of the best teams in the East.
Boston Red Sox
Yes, you can see the Boston Red Sox play baseball very close to Naples – in Fort Myers, in fact. The summer Grapefruit League brings a lot of MLB teams to the area, and the Sox play at JetBlue Park, or “Fenway South” – actually quite a venue for spring training. The Sox were just recently eliminated from the playoffs by the Houston Astros, who as one preview put it have an offense that’s unquestionably the class of baseball. The Astros were among the favorites to win it all this year, so it’s not a surprising outcome – but the Sox, despite the elimination, are no joke. Seeing this team in the next few springs will mean getting a look at a promising young group that could contend for quite a while.
Fort Myers Miracle
If you’re looking for more consistent baseball, there’s always the Fort Myers Miracle too. This is a Class A Advanced minor league team that’s an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins – another team that was just in the playoffs before being eliminated by the New York Yankees. Actually, the Twins play in town during the Grapefruit League also. But Fort Myers sticks around throughout the summer, playing games at Hammond Stadium, a simple but intimate and attractive venue. As minor league clubs go, the Miracle are actually somewhat of an institution, having been around since 1926, in one form or another.
Again, it’s not a sporting hotspot, and there’s not much in the actual city limits of Naples. But these are all accessible teams and stadiums, so there are definitely some great options available.
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