CLEARWATER, Fla. — Every baseball stadium has a concession stand staple, and with so many spring training facilities in Tampa Bay, the ballparks try to give out-of-town fans a taste of home.
“Cheesesteaks and baseball, what’s better than that?”
Nothing, if you ask Cindi Bowers, co-owner of Delco’s, a cheesesteak and hoagie shop in Dunedin. The restaurant is just a few miles up the road from the Philadelphia Phillies spring training complex in Clearwater.
“23 years ago,” Bowers said. “We got tired of the winters up there in Philly and decided to come down here in the Florida sunshine with the baseball.”
Delco’s has been selling cheesesteaks at Phillies’ spring training games since 2001 when the team played at Jack Russell Stadium.
When the team moved into BayCare Ballpark in 2004, Delco’s moved with them. Their location is not hard to find right behind home plate or just follow the smell of grilled onions.
“We ship everything in from Philly,” Bowers said. “Everything comes in on freight trucks three times a week. That whole ingredient what you get is from Philly.”
Fans know where to go when they need a taste of home.
“For me, they are just as good as any,” Phillies fan Ed Mushinski said. “I work in the city, I went to school in Philly. To me, they are just as good if not better.”
“There is always a big line,” Phillies long-time broadcaster turned public address announcer Chris Wheeler said. “It’s word of mouth, too. Once people hear you can get a real Philly cheesesteak, they go see Cindi and Eddie (Crowley).”
Those lines aren’t as long as they used to be.
“Now with only 2,000 people (in the stadium), I do 300-to-400 a game,” Bowers said. “Last year, pre-pandemic, it was 1,200-to-1,300. But, we’re getting there.” Getting there one hoagie at a time. “They have tasty cakes, too. Which is great!” Wheeler added.