FORT MYERS, Fla. -- JetBlue Park was bustling with sounds of pneumatic drills and dump trucks the week before Christmas. But with a little imagination you could almost hear the bellows of vendors hocking Fenway Franks and hot clam chowder while a Dropkick Murphy's song blasts from the loud speakers.
Work isn't expected to finish until the middle of January, but the stadium -- dubbed "Fenway South" -- and the surrounding complex has already taken on a very Fenway-esque aesthetic.
JetBlue Park, the centerpiece of the 126-acre, $78-million exhibition and training facility, was designed to emulate the Red Sox venerated regular-season ballpark in Boston in nearly every way.
Seating for the new stadium, which will include more than 10,000 fixed seats and 11,000 at full standing-room capacity, is identical to the lower boxes of Fenway Park and features the same cast-iron folding seats painted in the team's trademark "Fenway Green." One minor change will be the grass berm seating area in right field that replaces the grandstands of its Beantown counterpart.
The playing field itself has the same quirky dimensions of the original -- it is only 308 feet down the left field foul line. Perhaps the most recognizable feature is the 37-foot wall in left field, a replica of Fenway's Green Monster.
"We have the big wall just like we do in Boston, the only difference is that we will have seats inside of the wall as well as on top," team spokeswoman Katie Haas said. "The seats inside the wall will actually have a netting that will be pulled across very tautly that will hopefully recreate the bounce you get off the wall at Fenway. On top of the wall will be one long row of drink rail seats."
Another little touch that will give JetBlue that authentic Fenway feel will be the manual scoreboard at the base of the left field wall. The scoreboard had been in service in Fenway Park but was replaced before the 2001 season.
The main thoroughfare into the stadium, the Fenwalk, is a paved trail that will feature monuments commemorating great moments in Boston's history, with interactive elements for fans. Before entering the stadium, fans will pass through an area set up to resemble the street fair atmosphere of Yawkey Way in Boston on game days.
"We're going to have something similar here where we are actually going to put the turnstiles in the middle of the street so this area will all become a part of the ballpark," explained Haas.
The complex will also include state-of-the-art amenities for both the major and minor league teams that train here each spring, including six practice fields -- one of which will also be built to the exact dimensions of Fenway Park -- indoor batting cages, an agility and conditioning green, weight rooms and a clubhouse for players, and corporate offices for coaches and staffing.
When baseball season is over, the grass parking lots can be used for youth soccer and other athletic events.
The spring exhibition schedule begins March 3.