'Everything good comes to an end.' Fans react to Red Sox new spring training policy eliminating overnight campers

The first Saturday in December usually means camping in a tent in a parking lot for at least one night, sometimes more, for Derek DeArmond.

At least that’s the way it’s gone for the Lehigh Acres resident the past 17 years as he has set up camp in front of the Boston Red Sox ticket office to be first in line for spring training tickets.

Not this year.

Derek DeArmond buy tickets for Boston Red Sox spring training games at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m., and DeArmond was the first in line. Rather than camp out over night as he's done in years past, DeArmond put his name on a priority list on Friday.

As tickets went on sale Saturday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, the Red Sox used a priority list for fans rather than have diehards wait in line overnight. Camping out was not allowed this year.

The new system meant DeArmond had to be at JetBlue Park before sunrise the day before tickets went on sale to ensure he was first on the priority list.

“It was the first time I haven’t had to stay here all night to get tickets,” DeArmond, 62, said. “I got to sleep in a warm bed. I didn’t have to be out here in the cold.”

Fans could begin adding their names to the ticket sales priority list at 11 a.m. Friday. On Saturday morning fans on the list then had their place in line saved in the order they signed up.

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There were 176 people in line from the priority list at 10 a.m. Saturday. After those 176 fans bought their tickets – limit 12 per person – the people who were not on the list and showed up Saturday morning were able to purchase tickets.

When tickets went on sale, approximately 50 fans who were not on the priority list were in line.

DeArmond got to JetBlue Park at 4 a.m. Friday to make sure he was first for the list. The gates didn’t open for another four hours, so DeArmond had to park on the road outside.

About 10 cars were in line before 5 a.m. Friday, DeArmond said.

Fort Myers resident Derek DeArmond shows off the Boston Red Sox spring training tickets he purchased at JetBlue Park on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. DeArmond was the first in line for tickets for the 17th straight year, he said.

Some fans said they miss camping out for tickets. Many of the people who were in line before sunrise Friday are the same fans who would spend the night at the park in years past.

“It was a lot of fun back in the day,” Guy Sepielli, 40, said. “A lot of fun. … Every night was an adventure.”

Sepielli has been camping out for Red Sox tickets since 2004, back when they would spend multiple nights in front of City of Palms Park near downtown Fort Myers.

Sepielli said he and DeArmond had a friendly competition to see who would set up camp earliest. Once they started getting to the park a week early, Sepielle conceded to DeArmond and let him be No. 1 in line.

Camping out for tickets was a bonding experience, Sepielli said. Plus it was a great time – good food and adult beverages were in abundance. One year the campers set up a tiki bar. Another year there was even a hot tub.

“It got real big,” Sepielli said. “When it moved to JetBlue (in 2012) we had to tone it down. Everything good comes to an end.”

The first fans in line buy tickets for Boston Red Sox spring training games at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m., but these fans came to JetBlue on Friday to put their names on a priority list. The Red Sox used the list for the first time rather than have fans camp out over night to be first in line.

Red Sox officials say they eliminated camping and started the priority list to give everyone a fair chance at tickets. After all, many people don’t have the ability or desire to spend the night in front of a ballpark.

“We wanted to make it easier for all of our fans to be able to access the tickets,” said Brennan Whitley, senior manager of Florida business operations for the Red Sox. “Nobody had to be here 24-7. We have a wide demographic that come to our games and we wanted it to be accessible to everybody.”

Whitley said the most popular spring training games likely would sell out Saturday, especially the games against the New York Yankees and on St. Patrick’s Day. However, he expected tickets to be available to most other games after the first day.

Anyone interested in tickets can go to or call 877-RED-SOX9 (877-733-7699).