I have to admit, six years ago if you said the words, ‘spring training’ to me, it would have meant absolutely nothing. Back then I was a fresh-faced Central New Yorker who found herself living in a whole new world here in Florida. February in New York is full-fledged winter, so unless you’re a die-hard baseball fan (which I am not), seeing a baseball game or even thinking about baseball in winter, was definitely not my jam.
After moving to Tampa Bay, that all changed. Why? Because here in Florida, spring training is its own season. So many teams train and practice within a few hours of each other – four major teams are stationed right here in the bay area; the Yankees in Tampa, the Phillies in Clearwater, Pirates in Bradenton and the Blue Jays right here in Dunedin!
Fun fact, The Toronto Blue Jays have been practicing in Dunedin since 1977. It’s the longest running partnership between a city and an MLB affiliate.
Now, that I’ve lived through several seasons of spring training, ventured to a few games and had the pleasure of meeting many baseball fans, I get the hype. Spring training is educational, an experience and down-right fun. Not convinced yet?
Here are 5 reasons to get excited about spring training (even if you’re not a baseball fan)…
1. It’s an excuse to take a trip
If you live in a state where winter takes up half your year (trust me, I remember what it feels like to forget what the sun looks like), heading south for a week probably doesn’t require a lot of convincing. But even if you live in the south or here in Dunedin, spring training is a great reason to sneak in a weekend getaway. Who doesn’t love an excuse to break free from their usual routine and experience something new? My spouse, that’s who. Luckily, he’s a baseball fan and spring training gives me a bit of leverage. So, bring on those weekend trips to Tampa, Orlando and Sarasota. Next year, I even have my sights on Arizona. He’s got baseball, I’ve got my new experience. It’s a win-win.
2. Less is More
Spring Training is obviously not the regular season, which means we’re talking audience sizes of five to ten thousand versus forty to sixty thousand. Less crowds, smaller lines? Sign me up!
3. A bit more wallet friendly
Another perk of heading to a spring training game, the cost of a ticket. The average cost of a spring training ticket starts around $27 (this varies based on the teams playing and the timeframe you purchase the ticket), which is not bad compared to a regular season ticket. A quick Google search will tell you the average cost of a regular season MLB game is upwards of $90 (again, varies based on the teams). That can add up pretty quickly for a family of four. Even if you’d need to travel to see a spring training game, chances are you’d be getting more for your dollar by taking a vacation to Florida than spending a weekend in New York City to see a regular season Yankees game. Just sayin.’
4. Scope out up and coming stars
For an admitted non-baseball fan, this is actually my favorite part of spring training. There is something exciting about scoping out the newer players before they make it to the regular season field. Sure, they may not be headlining names right now, but they could be in the future – imagine what a great story that could make! And let’s not forget, spring training games give you a better opportunity of securing an autograph. Word is the Pittsburgh Pirates stadium in Bradenton is among the best for getting close to both the home and visiting teams.
5. A fun activity no matter what stage of life you’re in
What’s great about a good old baseball game is that it’s fun whether you’re with friends or family. It’s an easy game to understand and when you’re surrounded by engaged fans, you can’t help but get swept up in the excitement – especially when the crowd cheers for a home run. Plus, baseball fans appear to be relatively respectful to the opposing team’s fans. Personally, I think this makes the sport that much more enjoyable since that is not always the case when it comes to hockey or football games.
There you have it, a non-baseball fan’s five reasons to be excited about spring training. Was I able to convince you to check out a game? Let me know in the comments.
The Blue Jays’ home opener is Monday, February 24, against the Atlanta Braves, and runs through March 21, ending with a game against the Detroit Tigers. For more information about Blue Jays’ spring training, tickets and more, visit their website.