Experience/cost MLB spring training?

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dm200
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Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by dm200 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 9:54 am

I am, now, a Washington Nationals fan - and am (my wife and I) considering travel to Florida in the spring - to see some MLB spring training games.

Any experiences, costs, suggestions, etc. - from those who have done this? Does it matter just when you make the trip during the 5 or 6 weeks of Spring training?

rich126
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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by rich126 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 10:00 am

I don't know about FL but I live about 4 miles from the Diamondbacks and Rockies facility in Scottsdale, AZ. It draws a huge number of people and unfortunately to me, it is now big business. This is from 2018 https://www.tickpick.com/blog/average-m ... s-by-team/
On the low end the average ticket price is $22 and for the Cubs it was $68. And that is for a meaningless game.

Make your plans early since hotels get crowded and expensive.

I recently went to an AZ fall league game. Just ML prospects. Those games are what I imagine spring training used to be. Low key, casual, low cost ($9).

With the way the Orioles are, I'm guessing it could be cheaper to go to Maryland and see a real game than go to FL and watch them there :)

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by dm200 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 10:12 am

rich126 wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 10:00 am
I don't know about FL but I live about 4 miles from the Diamondbacks and Rockies facility in Scottsdale, AZ. It draws a huge number of people and unfortunately to me, it is now big business. This is from 2018 https://www.tickpick.com/blog/average-m ... s-by-team/
On the low end the average ticket price is $22 and for the Cubs it was $68. And that is for a meaningless game.
Make your plans early since hotels get crowded and expensive.
I recently went to an AZ fall league game. Just ML prospects. Those games are what I imagine spring training used to be. Low key, casual, low cost ($9).
With the way the Orioles are, I'm guessing it could be cheaper to go to Maryland and see a real game than go to FL and watch them there :)
Yes - from the promotions, etc. - does seem to be a "big business" :(

We live in Arlington, Virginia - and very convenient to see Washington Nationals home games - just take bus and subway.

Yes - the games are meaningless -

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by runner3081 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:17 pm

Do not go at the end of spring training (last few games). Those games are mostly played using scrubs in the minors who will never see the MLB diamond.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by runner3081 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:18 pm

rich126 wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 10:00 am
I don't know about FL but I live about 4 miles from the Diamondbacks and Rockies facility in Scottsdale, AZ. It draws a huge number of people and unfortunately to me, it is now big business. This is from 2018 https://www.tickpick.com/blog/average-m ... s-by-team/
On the low end the average ticket price is $22 and for the Cubs it was $68. And that is for a meaningless game.
We live about 20 minutes from there. Agree, spring training is crowded and highly expensive for what it is (at least in AZ).

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by GaryEsq » Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:55 pm

I've been going to spring training games in SW Florida for the past 15 years (Who here remembers City of Palms?)and things have changed a lot in those years, especially the financial part of it.

Find out when spring training tickets go on sale for the Nats and be online ready to purchase that day. Tickets will probably be pretty expensive on the secondary market since they are defending champions.

Try to stay away from the games played at the end of the season (good advice from runner3081) and avoid the split squad (SS) games as not all the starters will be there.

Book a hotel as soon as you can. The hotels fill up fast in Florida as it is, and spring training just adds to the demand.

Get to the game early because BP is usually more fun to watch than the game.

By the 7th or 8th inning you wont recognize any of the players because the regulars have already been pulled.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by dm200 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 1:08 pm

GaryEsq wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 12:55 pm
I've been going to spring training games in SW Florida for the past 15 years (Who here remembers City of Palms?)and things have changed a lot in those years, especially the financial part of it.
Find out when spring training tickets go on sale for the Nats and be online ready to purchase that day. Tickets will probably be pretty expensive on the secondary market since they are defending champions.
Try to stay away from the games played at the end of the season (good advice from runner3081) and avoid the split squad (SS) games as not all the starters will be there.
Book a hotel as soon as you can. The hotels fill up fast in Florida as it is, and spring training just adds to the demand.
Get to the game early because BP is usually more fun to watch than the game.

By the 7th or 8th inning you wont recognize any of the players because the regulars have already been pulled.
Yes - I follow the nationals spring training games.

From most of the comments posted here - not really a "bargain" trip/vacation..

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by mak1277 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 1:54 pm

I have several friends who attend spring training annually. Why do they go? Mainly because they love baseball. ALso because weather in Florida is much nicer than winter in the northeast and midwest. If you do go, check out the activity on the "back fields" in addition to the actual games. You may see as many stars participating in simulated games as you would see during the main event.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by SouthernFIRE » Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:13 pm

I wouldn't call it a "bargain" trip but it is a fun trip and it is not hugely expensive. I have been to spring training in FL the last two years (Clearwater and Fort Meyers beach) and had a blast both times. Tickets are more expensive than you would think. Lodging is reasonable. Weather is great.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by dm200 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:14 pm

I am NOT a baseball player, but I know someone who is - and would commonly go to Florida in the spring to play baseball for a week or so with former Major Leaguerers (some were Hall of Famers). It cost him a lot (which he had) - but he enjoyed wearing a major league uniform and pretending to be a Major league Player.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by tennisplyr » Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:24 pm

I live about 20" from the spring training home of the Baltimore Orioles and have been to a bunch of games. The stadium is intimate and fun, and the seats are a fraction of a regular MLB game, eg, $20/seat for 10 rows behind home plate. Of course, some teams command higher prices (eg, Yankees, Mets, Red Sox). Also been to Pirates field and next season I plan on going to Braves new field in North Port, FL. Suggest your order early...it's lots of fun.
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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by rich126 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:31 pm

dm200 wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:14 pm
I am NOT a baseball player, but I know someone who is - and would commonly go to Florida in the spring to play baseball for a week or so with former Major Leaguers (some were Hall of Famers). It cost him a lot (which he had) - but he enjoyed wearing a major league uniform and pretending to be a Major league Player.
They are called fantasy camps. People pay big bucks to dress up as a ML player and socialize with old time players. They generally run a week and run around $5,000. Here is an example. https://www.mlb.com/orioles/press-relea ... -281366582

Back to spring training, as someone else alluded to, in the "old" days, the games were more relaxed, very low cost, and fairly easy to get tickets. I've lived in AZ a few times but I know even back around 2005, tickets were maybe $10, sitting in the grass beyond the OF fence was maybe $5. Some guys at work would get the tickets and we'd see the Giants, A's, Angels which were all located in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.

Sometime around 2007, AZ started recruiting a bunch of teams (until then it was probably 1/3 AZ, 2/3 FL in terms of where teams held spring training) with the notable relocation of the Dodgers from Vero Beach FL to Surprise, AZ. Of course the blip in the economy happened and those cities are trying to recoup their investments. And like everything now, people are always trying to max out the profits.

This will be the first ST I've lived near the stadium since 2011 so I'm holding my breath as to how bad the roads will be. It is another reason I may be reconsidering living here in my retirement years. The growth and cost is going up quickly (probably due for another correction).

But yeah, if you like baseball and have never done it, I still would suggest trying it once and seeing if it is your thing.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by tev9876 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:50 pm

Did it a few years ago, combined with a NHL road trip, basically for free except for game tickets and rental car. Flew to Fort Lauderdale and caught the Red Wings @ Panthers. Drove over to Tampa for Red Wings @ Lightning the next night. Next day I headed up to Lakeland for a Tigers game. The Tigers grandstand was sold out but they sold unlimited lawn seats in the outfield. I didn't end up staying too long as there is no shade and it was crazy hot. Drove back to Tampa for the night and flew home out of TPA. Think I used a combination of Southwest, Hilton and Holiday Inn points.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by HomeStretch » Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:55 pm

tennisplyr wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:24 pm
The stadium is intimate and fun, and the seats are a fraction of a regular MLB game, eg, $20/seat for 10 rows behind home plate. Of course, some teams command higher prices (eg, Yankees, Mets, Red Sox). Also been to Pirates field and next season I plan on going to Braves new field in North Port, FL. Suggest your order early...it's lots of fun.
+1

We love baseball and take in spring training games for the Orioles, Mets and Astros/Nationals when we are visiting family in FL. Fun times!

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by greg24 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 3:58 pm

Going to Nationals games next Spring will be the most expensive Spring Training games they'll ever play. Maybe wait until 2021 if price matters.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by bob60014 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:06 pm

Now that the Nats have won something, spring training will see larger crowds and higher costs.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by dm200 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:15 pm

bob60014 wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:06 pm
Now that the Nats have won something, spring training will see larger crowds and higher costs.
Yes - and I suspect the 2020 regular season home games will also have increased prices :(

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by travelspot » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:35 pm

I go to Florida for spring training games every year. As others have pointed out, things have changed; the games are now big business, the venues have gotten much bigger, ticket prices have increased, etc. Some of the stadiums even feel like minor-league fields now. I still think it’s worth it though.

I can’t speak specifically to Nationals games, but in general it pays to do your homework to find other activities than just buying a ticket in an assigned seat and watching a game. I’ve taken my family to MLB team practices instead - on a smaller field, you can sit in bleachers or just walk around, you are much closer and there was no charge, no tickets needed. I’ve also taken the kids to autograph signing lines on practice/non game days.

Also I’d recommend if the stadium you are attending has sitting on a grassy hill, bring a blanket and sunscreen, and do that instead. The days of bringing your picnic basket and beverages are long gone, but just sitting in an assigned seat in the stadium by comparison feels too similar to a regular MLB game.

All in all it’s a fun tradition and well worth the cost in my opinion.
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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by Hockey10 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:37 pm

Sitting in the Florida sun watching a game is very relaxing when you think about your friends back home who are dealing with temps that are 50+ degrees colder.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by dm200 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:48 pm

Hockey10 wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:37 pm
Sitting in the Florida sun watching a game is very relaxing when you think about your friends back home who are dealing with temps that are 50+ degrees colder.
Now, that sounds very, very good - especially in late February..

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by jlawrence01 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:10 pm

dm200 wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 9:54 am
I am, now, a Washington Nationals fan - and am (my wife and I) considering travel to Florida in the spring - to see some MLB spring training games.

Any experiences, costs, suggestions, etc. - from those who have done this? Does it matter just when you make the trip during the 5 or 6 weeks of Spring training?
I have been to the Cactus League a few times. My uncle heads down to Florida for the Grapefruit League. My advice is this:

1) Book the hotels ASAP. The hotel rates are not as outrageous as you would think, especially in Florida where things are spread out.

2) Book the tickets in advance. Tickets are not cheap as they were 20 years ago. You can pick up tickets slightly less than normal MLB tickets.

3) DO NOT attend the first two weeks of actual games as many of the players will be AA and AAA players and free agents on minor league contracts. As for seeing a lot of major league players, they generally play 2-4 innings and then leave before the end of the game.

I will admit that even though I live in Arizona, I avoid the spring training games. I would much prefer to spend my time and money traveling and watching the various NCAA Conference Tournaments and/or the preliminary rounds of the NCAA Tournament itself.

However, try it once for the experience.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by themesrob » Wed Nov 13, 2019 10:38 am

I've been going for about ten years (have a friend who works in baseball so tickets have been free, making it easier). I love ST, and would recommend going to any baseball fan. The Nats/Astros shared complex is probably the best ST experience in Florida. Beautiful stadium. They have wide open practice fields around the actual stadium, so you can go watch the players practice/do BP pre-game with ease, and it's easy to get lots of autographs if that's your thing. Parking and getting in/out of the stadium is simple, which is definitely not the case at some other venues.

Only thing is to make sure you plan your trip around the games you want to see and avoid crazy long drives. The only "bad" ST trip we ever did was when we met up with my friend on a Friday for a home game in south FL, only to realize that the Saturday game wasn't a split squad and his team was playing at the Yankees complex in Tampa the next day. So we ended up spending about 7 hours on a beautiful March Saturday in the car.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by IMO » Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:37 pm

dm200 wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:48 pm
Hockey10 wrote:
Tue Nov 12, 2019 4:37 pm
Sitting in the Florida sun watching a game is very relaxing when you think about your friends back home who are dealing with temps that are 50+ degrees colder.
Now, that sounds very, very good - especially in late February..
I kinda of thought for many, it's enjoyed because of the combination they love baseball and it allows people to be a snowbird for a week.

I guess it's unfortunate that while I have easy access to do the MLB spring training thing, I'm not really into MLB but I do think it's worth noting that in the Phoenix area, it's worth knowing what stadium(s) one wants to watch games and make arrangements so that one is not getting stuck in rush hour traffic areas. This doesn't mean one needs to/must stay next door to a particular stadium because some commutes aren't bad.

The other thing worth mentioning is the potential for additional airport traffic/use during spring break. I once got to PHX airport during spring break time and the lines were shockingly long (and caught me completely off guard) causing me to miss my flight but SW airlines just put me on the next plane as a courtesy. When I asked what was going on, I was told it's MLB games/spring break.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by Hoosens » Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:51 pm

I live about 5 miles from the spring training complex for the Washington Nationals, the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, and have been to numerous games there. First of all, it's a great spring training facility that's only a few years old. Worth a visit. Spring is a great time to visit down here, but be warned that it is likely to still be quite hot during the day. Most games start at 1, so come prepared. I prefer to go the games that start at 6, there are always a handful each year. Also, understand that they share the complex with the Houston Astros. So, if you are coming to take in as much baseball as possible, there is literally a game at the park every single day. There is another spring training facility about 10 miles up the road in Jupiter that hosts the Cardinals and Marlins. So, if your goal is to take in as much Nationals baseball as possible, they will also play many games in that stadium, so you can try to time your visit to see them at both ballparks numerous times.

In terms of which week to come, that's just your personal preference. If you come in the first week or two, you can also possibly take in practices. It's an entire facility with enough fields for both the Nationals and Astros to practice on and the ballpark releases a schedule each day to inform the public of who is practicing on which fields. Not all are accessible, but many are. However, during the games, the better players will get maybe one at bat and then be done. If you wait a few more weeks, they will be getting 2 or 3 at bats and play more innings. Price will be the same no matter what. Getting tickets is not a problem unless they are playing the Yankees or Red Sox. It's definitely not the good ol' days of spring training pricing, so if you want a good seat you will pay. However, there are decent deals. I go with my family and almost every time sit out in the Banana Boat Lawn in the outfield. $10-$15 (last year at least) depending on the game. I walk up and buy the tickets at the gate to avoid paying fees online...never had a problem getting a ticket. Yes, it can get expensive for some seats in spring training games now, BUT, you will rarely, if ever, get a seat as close to the action in an MLB park for the price.

In terms of a hotel, I wouldn't stay too close to the facility, it's not in the best area of town. I would avoid any hotels along 45th St. and look either to downtown WPB, or on Okeechobee Blvd. Good luck, no doubt you'd enjoy the trip!

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by ILnative » Wed Nov 13, 2019 5:35 pm

We go to Cactus League every year - so I can't comment on specific venues, etc. for Grapefruit League - but just overall - you want to go to later in the season games, if possible. The first games of the year some of the bigger names haven't even reported yet - so you are watching really young players that may not ever make it. And they will cycle through lots (think up to 9) pitchers in a game testing them out. Towards the end of Spring Training, everyone (including better players) are there and generally play for at least 4-5 innings and they leave the better pitchers in longer to get more of a real game simulation. We saw one late Spring Training game where Lester and Kershaw pitched almost 7 innings each. I'm not sure if they do this in Florida - but in AZ they also "split squad" games. So a team may play two games at once in different venues against different opponents and split the squad - so in those instances you may be even less likely to see all the "stars" at once - however the tickets are usually cheaper.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by dm200 » Wed Nov 13, 2019 5:54 pm

ILnative wrote:
Wed Nov 13, 2019 5:35 pm
We go to Cactus League every year - so I can't comment on specific venues, etc. for Grapefruit League - but just overall - you want to go to later in the season games, if possible. The first games of the year some of the bigger names haven't even reported yet - so you are watching really young players that may not ever make it. And they will cycle through lots (think up to 9) pitchers in a game testing them out. Towards the end of Spring Training, everyone (including better players) are there and generally play for at least 4-5 innings and they leave the better pitchers in longer to get more of a real game simulation. We saw one late Spring Training game where Lester and Kershaw pitched almost 7 innings each. I'm not sure if they do this in Florida - but in AZ they also "split squad" games. So a team may play two games at once in different venues against different opponents and split the squad - so in those instances you may be even less likely to see all the "stars" at once - however the tickets are usually cheaper.
Yes - I follow the box scores - and they have radio broadcasts of a few games in the Spring.

Split squad games are common as well in the Grapefruit League. Because there are an odd number (15 I think) of MLB teams in both areas - they need to have a certain number of Split Squad games so that the teams can play just about every day. They also schedule a few more Split Squad games, I think, to get more money from ticket sales.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by MandyT » Fri Nov 15, 2019 9:43 am

Congrats to the Nats! I am a Cardinals fan and decided to start with a 2-day trip to Spring Training in 2018 to see what I thought. Cardinals ST is in Jupiter, not that far from where the Nats have theirs.

A few observations:

(1) I have gone to MLB games at several stadiums and was always able to strike up a good conversation about baseball. At ST, my luck wasn't so good; a significant number of people seemed to be snowbirds looking for something to do, not necessarily baseball fans.

(2) I think the most attractive things about ST (aside from the weather) include:

(a) A lot of people seemed to know when the Cardinals would be walking along the first base line to the dugout so they could seek autographs; likewise, around the 6th inning, most of the regulars would leave the same way.

(b) There's activity on the "back fields" that I didn't seek out because there was rain in the morning when I was there. Sometimes there are major leaguers working on specific improvements, sometimes there are hot prospects. I'm not sure if there is a published schedule.

(c) I bought a nominally-priced ticket for each game to attend batting practice. On the way to my first one, someone was walking in the opposite direction. I asked if I was going the wrong way; she said no, her husband liked to stand past the outfield wall during batting practice to collect baseballs.

These side activities seem to be what distinguishes ST from mediocre baseball. They don't particularly interest me, so I don't have the urge to go back.

(3) For me, the most cost-effective strategy was to rent a car and stay a few miles away from the beach. I actually stayed in an Airbnb in Sunrise (a little west) my first night and in Stuart (a little north of Jupiter) my second night.

(4) The facilities in Port St. Lucie (Mets), Jupiter (Cardinals, Marlins), and West Palm Beach (Astros, Nationals) are not that far from each other. If the ticket prices in West Palm Beach are high, you might find that the tickets are cheaper if you go to a game in Port St. Lucie or Jupiter in which the Nationals are the visiting team.

If you go, enjoy!

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by Arbol » Sat Nov 16, 2019 8:56 am

Hello from Venice, FL. There are about 9 teams within an hour of here. Nice to be centrally located and be able to go north or south on the 75 and be at a game in about an hour.

Make your plans early. It's crowded here in February with snowbirds and MLB fans.

As other have suggested, don't come at the end of spring training since the starters will not likely play. Don't go to split squad games. Anytime the Yankees are playing, tickets are going to be higher and harder to get since there are lots of Yankees fans here. Go to batting practice.

Will you have a car? Consider renting a place where you can drive to the various stadiums.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by AstroJohn » Sat Nov 16, 2019 11:28 am

My wife and I go to Nationals spring training every year, usually about the second or third week in March. By that time the regular players are getting substantial playing time. Tickets are likely to be expensive this year, but we will be going. One thing my wife discovered a few years ago is that you can get tickets using United Airlines frequent flyer miles. It takes a little digging, but they are there. We never seem to be able to use the miles for flights, so tickets or the rental car are a nice option.

Last season we did one game at the Cardinals park. As others have pointed out, it is quite close.

The one down side to the trip we have found it that West Palm has a pretty poor dining scene. But then we get breakfast at the hotel and lunch at the ball game, so it is just a few dinners.

One final thing to look carefully at is where you get seats. Sitting though a whole game in full sun can be pretty brutal.

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Re: Experience/cost MLB spring training?

Post by rich126 » Sat Nov 16, 2019 10:37 pm

AstroJohn wrote:
Sat Nov 16, 2019 11:28 am
My wife and I go to Nationals spring training every year, usually about the second or third week in March. By that time the regular players are getting substantial playing time. Tickets are likely to be expensive this year, but we will be going. One thing my wife discovered a few years ago is that you can get tickets using United Airlines frequent flyer miles. It takes a little digging, but they are there. We never seem to be able to use the miles for flights, so tickets or the rental car are a nice option.

Last season we did one game at the Cardinals park. As others have pointed out, it is quite close.

The one down side to the trip we have found it that West Palm has a pretty poor dining scene. But then we get breakfast at the hotel and lunch at the ball game, so it is just a few dinners.

One final thingss to look carefully at is where you get seats. Sitting though a whole game in full sun can be pretty brutal.
That is so true. I happened to go to the Championship game in the Arizona Fall League and seats were not reserved. It was a smallish crowd and probably 80%+ were smart enough to sit in the shade. It can be a huge temperature difference. People living in those climates know to seek out as much shade as possible and drink plenty of water.

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