A tradition that dates back to the late 1800s, baseball spring training takes place every February and March. A great experience for fans, half of Major League Baseball’s teams train in Florida. Here are some tips on where to catch a game and experience spring training in Florida up close.
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What Is The Grapefruit League?
The 15 major league teams with spring training in Florida are the Grapefruit League. Teams training in Arizona are the Cactus League. During the two months of training, teams of the league play each other, college teams, and junior leagues. While spring training might not allow spectators to always see the star players, it’s a great way to see younger players and watch spirited games.
Where To Watch Spring Training in Florida
Training happens in 12 cities, mostly in the central part of the state. Some teams play in the same city, or in close proximity of each other, which gives attendees more chances to catch a game!
West Central Florida Spring Training Sites
The Pittsburgh Pirates play in LECOM Park in Bradenton, which is just south of St. Petersburg and just north of Sarasota. Built in 1923, LECOM is the oldest stadium currently used for Spring Training in Florida and has a capacity of 8,500. It’s also the third oldest stadium used for any Major League Baseball game. The Pirates have played there since 1969.
BayCare Park is the spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies, who have been playing in Clearwater since 1947. Located just 7 miles from famous Clearwater Beach, it’s easy to enjoy time in the Gulf of Mexico and a ball game, all in the same day. BayCare Park holds 8,500 fans.
The Toronto Blue Jays play in TD Ballpark in Dunedin. Located about 30 miles west of Tampa, Dunedin is a small, walkable town with plenty to do when not watching a game. Located across the street from the Pinellas Trail, TD Ballpark allows fans to hang out downtown, grab a bite to eat and then walk right to the stadium. The Blue Jays have played in Dunedin since 1977 and can host 8,500 for spring training games.
The New York Yankees play their spring training games in Tampa, which has been hosting pre-season games since 1913. The Yankees, who previously hosted pre-season games in Fort Lauderdale, moved to George Steinbrenner Field in 1993. Holding 11,026 fans, Steinbrenner Field is the largest park for spring training in Florida. Visitors to Tampa will also find the Riverwalk area, Busch Gardens theme park, the Florida Aquarium, Ybor City and plenty of other things to do while in town for a game.
Southwest Florida Spring Training Sites
Both the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins host spring training in Fort Myers. Located 45 miles north of Naples, Fort Myers is home to the Edison Ford Winter Estates and close to Sanibel Island, home to some of the best shelling in the world.
The Twins play at Hammond Stadium, which seats 9,300. The Red Sox take spring training at JetBlue Park at their Fenway South facility, which hold 10,800.
Only 30 miles south of Sarasota, North Port is home to spring training for the Atlanta Braves. The Braves play at CoolToday Park which seats 8,000 spectators. Since North Port is also a close distance to Port Charlotte, staying in the area gives baseball fans a chance to experience three MLB spring training facilities!
**Note – due to Hurricane Ian hitting southwest Florida hard in September, 2022, the Tampa Bay Rays will be conducting spring training in Orlando for Spring Training 2023**
South of Sarasota is Port Charlotte, springtime home to the Tampa Bay Rays. Only 80 miles from the Rays’ regular season stadium, Charlotte Sports Park has been their spring training home since 2009 and seats 7,600 spectators.
Once the winter home of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Sarasota is known for its architecture, beaches and cultural pursuits. And baseball! The Baltimore Orioles train at Ed Smith Stadium, which holds 8,500.
Central Florida Spring Training Sites
Located halfway between Orlando and Tampa, Lakeland is the Florida home to the Detroit Tigers. Playing in Publix Stadium, which is 65 years old, the Tigers can have 8,500 fans can watch them during spring training.
Due to hurricane damage at their facilities in Port Charlotte, the Tampa Bay Rays will be hosting their 2023 Spring Training games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Located within the Walt Disney World resort, this 200-acre sports complex has a variety of sports venues within it. Spring training will be held at The Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Seating 7,500 people, The Stadium was the previous Spring Training home for the Atlanta Braves for two decades.
South Florida Spring Training Sites
Baseball fans get double the fun at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Located just north of West Palm Beach, Jupiter is host to both the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals during February and March. Roger Dean is the smallest stadium in the Grapefruit League and seats 6,800.
Port St. Lucie
Fifty miles north of West Palm Beach in St. Lucie County is Clover Park, spring training home of the New York Mets. This stadium seats 7,100.
West Palm Beach
The Ballpark Of The Palm Beaches is the stadium host to the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals. Located in West Palm Beach, the park seats 7,800. When catching a Nationals game, keep an eye out for the three mascots who used to run the President’s Race at their games in Washington, D.C. They’ve retired to Florida and now run their race during the fourth inning of the Washington spring training games.
Where To Stay For Spring Training in Florida
Thanks to its tourist industry, finding lodging for spring training in Florida isn’t hard. There are hotels and home rentals close to every stadium listed. All the cities are within 50 miles of regional or international airports, with most less than 25 miles. Be sure to plan ahead when reserving lodging, though. Spring training happens right in the middle of the high tourist season in Florida, and accommodations fill up quickly.
Public transportation in Florida isn’t very prevalent or reliable in most locations, so renting a car or using a car service is your best bet unless otherwise indicated.
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