Published on October 3rd, 2017 | by Daniel Nikulin0
The Ins and Outs of Spring Training Baseball
After the beaches, golf and outlet malls, why not catch a MLB baseball game?
Snowbirds know the drill, as do some college and university students wanting a break from the usual Spring Break shenanigans during their wobbly week in the sun. Starting each year around the middle of February and lasting into early April is Major League Baseball’s Spring Training, an action-packed break in the regular season where new players fight for roster spots, veterans work off nagging injuries and teams go through extensive practices, exhibition games and other camp duties to prepare for the upcoming regular season.
For those that live in baseball cities charging an arm and a leg for a decent ticket, it is the perfect time to catch your favourite team for less, to get that sought-after autograph from your favourite player and to enjoy some professional baseball on a much more intimate scale. The weather is ideal and the vibe is relaxed. It is a great opportunity to catch the brightest young stars and to get a sneak peek at what your team might look like come Opening Day.
If you’re ready to experience baseball from an entirely new vantage point, we’ve compiled the ultimate Spring Training guide to keep you organized. Like the American and National Leagues of the regular season, springtime baseball is broken down into two leagues, Florida’s Grapefruit League and Arizona’s Cactus League. The difference here is that American League and National League teams cross over and aren’t aligned as they are during the regular season, making for more games between teams you’d only see compete against one another in a handful of games between April and October.
Whether you’re a casual fan or are ready to take your baseball fandom to a new level, here is a list of participating MLB teams (all of them) and where you can find them down south.
Grapefruit League (Florida)
With a dozen teams training along the east and west coasts and another three in the centre of the state, it isn’t hard to plan an all-encompassing Florida vacation that includes beaches, Walt Disney World, and you guessed it, baseball.
Off-season ball has been a tradition in the Sunshine State since the 1890s. Some of the newer parks here (Phillie’s Bright House Field, Tigers’ Joker Marchant Stadium) are mini-replicas of the team’s stadiums back home while others offer fun on-site extras like tiki bars or mini golf.
|Toronto Blue Jays||Dunedin||Florida Auto Exchange Stadium|
|Washington Nationals||Viera||Space Coast Stadium|
|Atlanta Braves||Lake Buena Vista||Champion Stadium at Walt Disney World|
|St. Louis Cardinals||Jupiter||Roger Dean Stadium|
|Baltimore Orioles||Sarasota||Ed Smith Stadium|
|Boston Red Sox||Fort Myers||JetBlue Park at Fenway South|
|Tampa Bay Rays||Port Charlotte||Charlotte Sports Park|
|Detroit Tigers||Lakeland||Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Bradenton||LECOM Park|
|Houston Astros||Kissimmee||Osceola County Stadium|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Clearwater||Bright House Field|
|Miami Marlins||Jupiter||Roger Dean Stadium|
|New York Yankees||Tampa||George M. Steinbrenner Field|
|Minnesota Twins||Fort Myers||Hammond Stadium|
|New York Mets||Port St. Lucie||First Data Field|
Cactus League (Arizona)
Nowhere else can you catch the action of 15 different teams within a driving radius of less than one hour. Hop on the Legacy Trail and enjoy a multi-stop tour of Arizona’s famous Spring Training facilities and memorabilia collection spots, including ‘Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience’ exhibit, an ever-growing collection of autographs, artifacts and souvenirs relating to the league’s 60+ year history.
Stop in at the infamous Pink Pony Restaurant & Bar or Don and Charlie’s Stakehouse and retrace the steps of past greats, famous sportswriters and those who never made it. And after you get your baseball fill, enjoy Arizona’s dry heat, soothing spas, world-class golf and more.
|Texas Rangers||Surprise||Surprise Stadium|
|Arizona Diamondbacks||Salt River||Salt River Fields at Talking Stick|
|Seattle Mariners||Peoria||Peoria Sports Complex|
|Chicago Cubs||Mesa||Sloan Park|
|San Francisco Giants||Scottsdale||Scottsdale Stadium|
|Chicago White Sox||Glendale||Camelback Ranch|
|San Diego Padres||Peoria||Peoria Sports Complex|
|Cincinnati Reds||Goodyear||Goodyear Ballpark|
|Oakland Athletics||Mesa||HoHoKam Park|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Phoenix||Maryvale Baseball Park|
|Cleveland Indians||Goodyear||Goodyear Ballpark|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Glendale||Camelback Ranch|
|Colorado Rockies||Salt River||Salt River Fields at Talking Stick|
|Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim||Tempe||Tempe Diablo Stadium|
|Kansas City Royals||Surprise||Surprise Stadium|
As you can see, teams in both leagues sometimes share a Spring Break ballpark, especially cool if you’re both a Cardinals and Marlins fan or into the Diamondbacks and Rockies, for example. Spring Training teams can play NCAA teams (college), minor league clubs, intra-squad games (a single team playing itself by dividing its roster) as well as split-squad games, where a club plays two games in a single day by splitting their team. Of course, there are games between MLB franchises too, making for an all encompassing array of action.
Spring Training Tickets
Here’s the best part; tickets can start as low as $19USD for a baseline seat and go up to $27USD for a seat in a box (based on Toronto Blue Jays tickets in Dunedin in 2017). If you’re cool with a seat in the stands, tickets can be even cheaper than that. Keep in mind that the stadiums are much smaller than they are on the big stage (Sloan Stadium is the largest Spring Training venue at 15,000 capacity but most seat less than 10,000) and even though it is just training, many games do sell out.
Pre-booking your game seats is always a good idea and the best way to get yours is by visiting the MLB Spring Training page.
Flights, Hotels & Car Rentals
You’ve come to the right place! At Flight Centre, we’ve been sending snowbirds south for years. Whether you’re spending the entire winter away or would simply like a week (or even weekend) to warm up and catch some ball, we’ve got everything besides your baseball tickets.
Fly with your favourite airline, whether it’s Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat or Sunwing and stay in any of our hotels and resorts throughout Florida and Arizona. Cruise between parks (top-down!) with our great car rental options and get the most out of the perfect weather. Come back ready for Opening Day and the regular season refreshed, knowing just a little bit more about your favourite team and what it takes to get ready for another beautifully grueling season of ball.
Game on! Spring Training means fun for the whole family, especially if you combine a game or two with a visit to an amusement park, a resort on the beach or some world-class golf. Book it all with any one of our Travel Experts online, by phone or by visiting your Flight Centre store today.