(TAMPA, FL) – Even for an early afternoon, mid-week game, George M. Steinbrenner’s stadium is absolutely electric. Fans are filing in by the hundreds and taking their places in stadium seats or in line to grab a hot dog. The sun is not hiding behind its normally spring-showered, cloudy sky, and the smell of sunscreen is strong. Pinstripes are everywhere, speckled with the occasional colors of rival teams. Spring training is in full swing in Tampa, and Yankees are ready to start their season.
For the past three seasons, Maddie Erhardt has worked as a digital and social media marketing coordinator for the Tampa Tarpons, the Class A-Affiliate for the New York Yankees. Before that, she worked as a game-day operations employee in 2015 and then landed a part-time job as an assistant to the community engagement coordinator in 2016. Erhardt’s tenure at Steinbrenner has given her the opportunity to observe the change of pace between spring training and the minor league season for the last five years.
We're officially 𝟒𝟓 𝐃𝐀𝐘𝐒 away from the Tarpons 2020 Home Opener!
In the mean time join us in enjoying our alum doing their thing at Yankees Spring Training! pic.twitter.com/3A672DdbGM
— Tampa Tarpons (@TampaTarpons) February 26, 2020
“The difference between Tarpons’ season to Yankees’ spring training is definitely not a small one,” Erhardt notes. “People go crazy for spring training. We absolutely love being able to welcome the Yankees down here and getting to experience the madness.”
This year is no exception. With the New York Yankees looking to be in contention for another shot at the World Series title, fans have been coming out in droves to support their team.
“During the Tarpons’ season our crowds range from 200 to 500 people on the weekdays and up to 2,000 on the weekends,” Erhardt said. “During spring training, our 10,000 seat stadium often sells out. Spring training brings out a lot more fans.”
Long time Yankees fan and Tampa resident, John Gordon, has been attending Yankees spring training games since they moved from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in 1996.
“Every season here gets better. More fans come out and I get to meet great people and watch great baseball. It never gets old, though I’m starting to,” Gordon joked.
Gordon watched the Yankees win their World Series titles in 1998,1999, 2000 and 2009 – and he said he is feeling pretty good about this season, as well.
Rivalry home run from Gio 🙌 pic.twitter.com/T0DTgiHOOw
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 3, 2020
“One more ring before I’m too old to come out to these games would be nice. I love getting out of the house to watch the spring training games, but I’m starting to need new shirts to wear,” Gordon said. “Hopefully I’ll have one with another ring on it soon.”