Last updated on September 24th, 2023 at 03:51 pm
The year-round temperate climate of Florida, particularly in the Tampa Bay area, gives major league baseball teams a chance to practice in beautiful surroundings. This relaxed springtime atmosphere in smaller stadiums really enhances the experience for the fans!
Major League Baseball’s Spring Training
There are two main leagues for spring training: the Grapefruit League (in Florida) and the Cactus League (in Arizona). Each league is home to a number of teams, and they each have their own unique benefits. However, the Grapefruit League is often considered the more popular of the two, for a few reasons. For one, Florida is a major tourist destination, so there are plenty of other things to do and see when you’re not watching baseball. Additionally, the Grapefruit League is home to some of the most historic and storied teams in MLB, including the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, and the Philadelphia Phillies. And with so many teams in such close proximity, it’s easy to catch multiple games in a short amount of time.
As part of the Grapefruit League circuit, three teams host their baseball spring training in the Tampa Bay area: the New York Yankees (Tampa), Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater), and Toronto Blue Jays (Dunedin). The players and teams are on display from mid-February, when workouts begin, until early April when they dispatch to their home cities for the regular season.
New York Yankees, Tampa FL
The George M. Steinbrenner Field is the home for the Yankees’ Spring Training. The grandstand has two levels and comprises most of the 12,200 seats in the stadium, while there are 12 luxury suites relatively far away from the action. There are no bleacher seats or general-admission seating at all in Steinbrenner Field, as all the seats are reserved armchair seating. Outside the ballpark is a memorial to the 16 Yankees who have had their numbers retired. It’s a great place to watch the Yankees, but don’t expect an autograph. The Yankees train on a two-diamond field next to the ballpark and then enter the ballpark without stopping to greet the fans.
Philadelphia Phillies, Clearwater FL
The Phillies, work out at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. It offers 7,300 fixed seats and 1,500 more in full sun in a grass-berm area. A 360-degree open concourse, group picnic area, party suites, a kid’s play area, upper deck club seating, and a large team store round out the offerings. And since it’s the Phillies you can get the classic cheesesteak at the food court behind home plate. Seating tip: The Phillies dugout is on the third base side. Buy tickets in sections 112-120 to sit on the home side of the stadium. Want an autograph? Phillies players sign before the game for those gathered in sections 118-120.
Toronto Blue Jays, Dunedin FL
The Blue Jays have opened a spring training camp in Dunedin since the team’s inception in 1977. The Florida Auto Exchange Stadium (formerly Dunedin Stadium), has been ranked by Sports Illustrated as one of the top five places to watch a Spring Training game. Expect a throwback to a bygone era–it has the smallest capacity of any stadium hosting Spring Training games (5,509 bleacher-style seats), no video board, and “Chad the Beer Guy” gets fans to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” from the top of the dugout during the 7th inning stretch. Seating tip: To sit on the Jays’ side of the stadium, buy tickets in sections 100-106 or 200-206. If you prefer to sit in the shade, a roof provides cover over the top six rows (11-16) of seats in the upper grandstand, except for the three sections (205-207) in front of the press box. The afternoon sun is behind the first base grandstand, enabling all covered rows (11 & up) to receive shade in sections 200-204.
Other Spring Training Locations in Florida
Eight other major league teams play their spring games within a two-hour drive: Atlanta Braves (Lake Buena Vista), Boston Red Sox (Fort Myers), Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota), Detroit Tigers (Lakeland), Houston Astros (Kissimmee), Minnesota Twins (Fort Myers), Tampa Bay Rays (Port Charlotte), and Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton).
What to Expect at a Spring Training Game
Attending a spring training game is a unique experience compared to regular season MLB games. For one, since these games are technically practice games, the atmosphere is often more relaxed and casual. You’ll be able to get closer to the action, and players may be more willing to sign autographs or take photos with fans. Additionally, ticket prices are usually much lower than they are for regular season games, so it’s a great way to see some high-quality baseball without breaking the bank. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that because these games are somewhat informal, the starting lineups and pitching rotations may be subject to change at the last minute.
If you’re planning on attending spring training in the Grapefruit League, there are a few things you can do to make the most of your experience. For one, do your research ahead of time and plan out which teams and games you want to see. Some teams play in more than one location, so you may be able to catch them at different parks. Additionally, be sure to arrive at the park early to get a good seat and scope out the surrounding area for any nearby restaurants or attractions. And if you’re traveling with a group, consider renting a car to make it easier to get around and see multiple games.
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