Between the months of February and March every year, MLB teams in the Grapefruit league will travel down to Florida to participate in Spring Training. Teams will typically have their own facilities, or share ownership of one with another team, to utilize during this time.
These facilities are well developed and maintained so these teams can get the most out of them during their time using them. However, after Spring Training ends, opportunities for others to utilize these beautiful fields are available for the majority of the year.
Each facility is used differently depending on how the organizations choose to manage them.
George M. Steinbrenner Field
George M. Steinbrenner field is located in Tampa, Florida and is owned by the New York Yankees. The stadium is surrounded by practice fields that are used by the players, and the stadium is located across the street from Raymond James Stadium, home of the Buccaneers. The stadium can hold roughly 10,000 people, and is almost always full during spring training.
“It’s sad to see the ticket prices now compared to when I used to go to games.” said Bill Jackson, an usher at Steinbrenner field. Jackson has been working at the stadium for 27 years. He expressed how although he does not agree with the tickets being so expensive, it is great to see the stadium so full for every game.
When spring training is not taking place, Steinbrenner is home to the Yankees Class A affiliate, the Tampa Bay Tarpons. The Tarpons provide fans with an affordable option for watching baseball, with tickets starting as low as $12. They will typically partner with local organizations to provide free tickets and cabana seating experiences as well.
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— Tampa Tarpons (@TampaTarpons) October 28, 2022
Steinbrenner is well-known for having a positive relationship with the Tampa community. The facility has worked with many local high school’s and colleges to allow them to play on these fields.
Steinbrenner field hosts the annual “Steinbrenner Classic Wood Bat Tournament” during the fall semester. Local high school teams participate in this tournament and are given access to the facility batting cages, bullpens and practice fields. Games are played in the stadium, as well as the surrounding practice fields. It provides young athletes with a unique opportunity to play on a professional baseball field and is loved within the community.
BayCare Field, spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies, can be found in Clearwater, Florida. The stadium is capable of holding approximately 8,500 people and is known for having a wide variety of food and drink options.
This ballpark is one of the more creatively designed complex’s, as it has a small playground behind left field, and a tiki hut pavilion in the outfield sponsored by the restaurant Frenchy’s. Fans can enjoy the game while ordering food and drinks at the outfield bar.
Similar to Steinbrenner, when spring training is over, BayCare is home to the Phillies Class A affiliate, the Clearwater Threshers. The team plays its regular season games in the main ballpark, and uses the extra fields for practices.
Phillies minor league camp returned in full swing on Tuesday, with drills and simulated games in constant rotation all morning on the Phillies complex in Clearwater.
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— Clearwater Threshers Baseball (@Threshers) March 15, 2023
In addition to the Threshers, BayCare ballpark also hosts Florida Instructional League (FIL) games as well. The FIL is a winter league that takes place after the minor league season comes to a close. It is designed to allow top prospects to compete at a high level during the minor league off-season.
The Ball Park of Palm Beaches
The Ballpark of Palm Beaches resides in West Palm Beach, in the south-west region of Florida. The park is co-owned by the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals, who split time playing at the facility during spring training.
The main stadium holds around 7,700 people and there are six practice fields that surround the area. While this facility does not have any minor league teams who call it home, it is still used throughout the year for various events.
“They host concerts here and play baseball year ’round,” said Gordon Hargrave, an usher at the Ballpark of Palm Beaches. “Colleges will play here and some high-profile tournaments are also hosted here.”
Many teams will play on the practice fields surrounding the main stadium in tournaments, mostly throughout the summer, which have gained popularity in recent years. These fields are a great location to host tournaments like this because they are many well-maintained and are all in close proximity of each other. In February, the internet sensation Coastal Plain League team, the Savannah Bananas, played in a tournament at the facility.
— The Savannah Party Animals (@SavPartyAnimals) February 20, 2023
In one way or another, all of these ballparks have had a positive impact on their local communities. It is important that these MLB organizations continue to maintain a local presence through their spring training facilities, as it provides many with unique opportunities and promotes the game of baseball.