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Home Run Spring Training Getaways

Plan a pre-season baseball vacation in Florida or Arizona, where you can attend a major league game for a fraction of the regular season price.

 

Hall of Fame slugger Rogers Hornsby said it best: “People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

Play ball! Spring has sprung for baseball fans and Florida (think grapefruits) and Arizona (think cacti) are where the bats are swinging. The weather’s great, the ticket prices (starting at just $4) will make you smile, and the stadiums are intimate enough for a shout out to your favorite players for autographs and photos. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your spring training baseball vacation today.

There’s a lot more to spring training than ball games. And, with the economy being what it is, a day at the ballpark during major league spring training is affordable and action-packed. Doug MacKenzie, director of communications with the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau suggest fans “arrive early so you can see practice, enjoy the stadium and have lunch.”

For families, the beauty of watching spring training baseball is in the children-friendly stadiums and destinations. The spanking new Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Ariz. (just west of Phoenix), home to the Cleveland Indians (and Cincinnati Reds next year), has a family-fun zone, complete with a Wiffle Ball field, batting and pitching cages, and picnic tables. The Atlanta Braves’ Champion Stadium makes its home in Disney’s Wide World of Sports, home-run distance from the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. Each game features live music and Disney characters, and this year an On-Field Spectator Experience debuts and kids can run the bases after every game. Most of the stadiums have lawns and picnic areas where families can watch the games and kids can run around.

Spring Training Tickets

Getting tickets, while inexpensive, isn’t always easy. Anytime you have the usual powerhouses play, like the Red Sox and Yankees, the stadiums will sell out, says David Downing, assistant director of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Convention and Visitors Bureau. However, he adds, “The Tampa Rays and Philadelphia Phillies rematch (the teams faced off in last year’s World Series) in Clearwater has already sold out, so there are some new dynasties in the making.”

One of the toughest tickets to snag is for the Chicago Cubs at Hohokam Park in Mesa, Ariz., says MLB.com columnist Doug Miller. Tony Morreale, sports public relations manager for Disney’s Wide World of Sports, suggests visitors buy tickets online so they don‘t strike out.

The spring training schedule starts Feb. 25 and runs through April 5, with the regular season starting April 6. Game schedules vary considerably depending on the team; check your favorite team’s Web site for the schedule. Here’s a roundup of where to see all the action.

 

Next: Home Base Hotels—Spring Training Package Deals

Home Base Hotels—Spring Training Package Deals

Many of the hotels and resorts in Florida and Arizona offer spring training packages and specials. Here are some places to hang your caps.

Arizona

Stay where legends Ted Williams and Bob Fuller spent their spring training days at the Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale. Book the “Spring Training” package that includes a Valley Ho T-shirt or cap and complimentary transportation on the Scottsdale Trolley from the hotel to the Scottsdale Stadium. Package rates begin at $259. 6850 E Main St., tel. 480-248-2000. www.hotelvalleyho.com.

The FireSky Resort & Spa is applauding the return of the Giants to Scottsdale with the “Play Ball” package which includes baseball snacks and a bucket of beer, a baseball schedule and an area map. Package rates begin at $275 per night. 4925 N. Scottsdale Road, tel. 800-528-7867. www.fireskyresort.com.

Book the Westward Look Resort in Tucson, and you’ll get a great discount off the regular rates. Rates begin at $130 per night for the five-night special and $120 per night for the seven-night special. Available through March 31. 245 E. Ina Road, tel. 800-722-2500. www.westwardlook.com.

The Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix offers a two-night Spring Training Special package that includes breakfast for two. The package rate is $299 per night (use code Cactus when booking). 2400 E. Missouri Ave., tel. 800-950-0086. www.arizonabiltmore.com.

Florida

The Seralago Hotel & Suites in Kissimmee, a baseball throw from Orlando, invites fans to book the two night Spring Training Special that includes daily breakfast for two adults (up to two kids eat free), a spring training sports pack (a lunch cooler stuffed with snacks and drinks) and a coupon for two hot dogs redeemable at the hotel’s food court. Package rates begin at $149 per night. Available through April 2. 5678 Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, tel. 800-411-3457. www.seralagohotel.com.

Book the “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” package at the Terrace Hotel in Lakeland, and you’ll get complimentary breakfast and two reserved seats (in the shade) at a Detroit Tigers game. Package rates begin at $119 per person. 329 E. Main St., tel. 863-688-0800. www.terracehotel.com.

With the Spring Training Package at the InterContinental Tampa you’ll receive a complimentary “Fan Tool Kit,” including a team-specific chocolate amenity (fans need to specify their favorite team when making reservations), a baseball for autographs, Cracker Jacks, peanuts, popcorn, gum, soda, and the lyrics and history of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” as well as a 25 percent discount off deluxe accommodations. Package rates begin at $172 per night. Available through April 4. 4860 W. Kennedy Blvd., tel. 800-402-0758. www.intercontampa.com  

 

Next: Florida and Arizona League Teams

Florida: The Grapefruit League

Florida spring training, dubbed Grapefruit League, has 16 teams training throughout the state. Here is where they play.

Bradenton: Pittsburgh Pirates. Tickets $10 to $19.

Clearwater: Philadelphia Phillies. Tickets $11 to $30.

Dunedin: Toronto Blue Jays. Tickets $13 to $25.

Fort Lauderdale: Baltimore Orioles. Tickets from $5 to $22.

Fort Myers: Boston Red Sox. Tickets from $10 to $46. Minnesota Twins. Tickets from $12 to $23.

Jupiter: St. Louis Cardinals. Tickets $8 to $31. Florida Marlins. Tickets $8 to $31. [Read more about Jupiter spring training.]

Kissimmee: Atlanta Braves. Tickets $15 to $32. Houston Astros. Tickets $10 to $25.

Lakeland: Detroit Tigers. Tickets $8 to $21.

Port Charlotte: Tampa Bay Rays. Tickets $9 to $23.

Port St. Lucie: New York Mets. Tickets $6 to $25.

Sarasota: Cincinnati Reds. Tickets $9 to $18.

Tampa: New York Yankees. Tickets $17 to $31.

Viera: Washington Nationals. Tickets $10 to $20.

 

Arizona: The Cactus League

Arizona spring training, appropriately named the Cactus League, has 14 teams playing, mostly in the Phoenix region, with two based in Tucson. Here is where they play.

Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Areas

Glendale: Los Angeles Dodgers, tickets $8 to $100; Chicago White Sox, tickets $8 to $100.

Goodyear: Cleveland Indians, $8 to $30; Seattle Mariners, tickets $6 to $23.

Mesa: Chicago Cubs, tickets $7 to $29.

Peoria: San Diego Padres, tickets $6 to $23.

Phoenix: Milwaukee Brewers, tickets $8 to $21.

Scottsdale: Oakland Athletics, tickets $10 to $34; San Francisco Giants, tickets $8 to $28.

Surprise: Kansas City Royals, tickets $7 to $23; Texas Rangers, tickets $7 to $23.

Tempe: Los Angeles Angels, tickets $6 to $27.50.

 

Tucson

Arizona Diamondbacks, tickets $5 to $25; Colorado Rockies, tickets $4 to $17. 

 

For more information about visiting Arizona or Florida for a spring training getaway, visit www.mlb.com, www.floridaspringtraining.com and www.cactusleague.com


Destinations: Arizona, Florida

Themes: Family Travel

Activities: Baseball


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