Spring Training in Florida officially opened its 2012 schedule on March 3, with 15 Major League Baseball teams set to play a total of 236 games in the Grapefruit League through April 4. (The other 15 teams prepare for the regular season in the Cactus League in Arizona.)
Major League Baseball teams first started coming to Florida for Spring Training more than a century ago. These days, fans flock to the Sunshine State to enjoy the warm weather, cheaper tickets and an overall more laid-back and intimate setting. With so many parks in close proximity to Tampa as well as world-class beaches and nearby central Florida theme parks, many baseball fans opt for multi-day, multi-park tours. Experts recommend buying game tickets in advance, and don’t forget the sunscreen!
Top Spring Training Destinations
Perennial American League East powerhouses, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, draw quite a contingent from the Northeast every year and boast two of the most impressive Spring Training complexes. The Red Sox unveiled their new $78 million complex, JetBlue Park, this year. The stadium, modeled after Boston’s storied Fenway Park, is located in Fort Myers and is already a hit with fans. JetBlue Park is complete with a manual scoreboard and even its own Green Monster! Having visited the old City of Palms Park, I can’t wait to get down to Fort Myers to check out the new JetBlue Park. Use Fly.com to find cheap flights to Fort Myers from across the United States, now starting at just $226 roundtrip, including taxes.
The New York Yankees play their Spring Training games at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Steinbrenner Field, named for the Yankee’s long-time principal owner who died in 2010, opened in 1996 and is the largest Grapefruit League facility boasting a capacity of more than 11,000. The playing field actually has the same outfield measurements as Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Thrill-seekers and parents will be happy to learn that Busch Gardens is just seven miles away. With so many teams, including the Phillies, Blue Jays, Pirates and Orioles, choosing the Tampa Bay area as their spring home, be sure to check Fly.com for the best prices on flights to Tampa, currently available starting at just $148 roundtrip, including taxes.
Spring training schedules conclude in early April, so act now before it’s too late for 2012!