2014 Spring Training Team Schedules Starting to Be Released
The Phillies, on October 3, became the first of Florida's 15 teams to release their 2014 spring training schedule, while the Brewers' schedule was the first to be known in the Cactus League, as it was announced on October 22. The Spring Training Schedules page is where to find links to all individual team schedules and as each is made available we'll also be updating the day by day league schedules. And if you like and then follow Spring Training Connection on Facebook, notices about and links to each team's schedule will be posted there when they become available.
2013 Spring Training is History
For the third straight year, three million plus fans officially attended games at Cactus and Grapefruit League ballparks. The 10 in Arizona hosted 1,640,165 fans for 239 Cactus League games, while paying customers totaled 1,621,986 for 246 Grapefruit League games at Florida's 14 parks. Collectively, the leagues' 24 ballparks drew 3,262,151 fans to 485 games, a per game average of 6,726, with the Cactus League (6,863) besting the Grapefruit League (6,593) by 270. Those numbers don't include crowd counts for "other" games played at spring training ballparks, such as the 84,489 that attended WBC exhibitions and the 13,049 that saw MLB teams host college squads. And there were also 66,016 who saw games in Phoenix, St. Petersburg and Tucson. Add it all up and you get 3,425,705 who paid their way into 38 days worth of games, spanning from February 21 through March 30, during the 2013 spring training season. On the field, the Orioles (19-9-4) and Royals (25-7-2) topped their respective leagues' standings, and were the only teams to lose less than 10 games. The Angels (9-18-4) were the only team that failed to win at least 10 games. For a more complete account of what transpired on the field and in the stands, read our 2013 Spring Training Recap.
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Spring Training Ballpark News
Palm Beach Gardens Expected to Lure 2 Teams With New Complex
With two Letters of Intent signed -- by the Astros and Blue Jays -- the City of Palm Beach Gardens is moving forward on making a new spring training complex in that city a reality. An approximately 117-acre site has already been selected. It's near I-95 and very close to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, which means four teams would be training in Palm Beach County and that spring training would be saved on the east coast of the state of Florida, from which enough teams have recently bolted (Dodgers & Orioles) or plan to bolt (Nationals), that the county's two other teams, the Cardinals and Marlins, would have the ability to opt out of their present leases. While the Palm Beach Gardens project is "early in the conceptual planning process," the Astros and Blue Jays have committed to leave Kissimmee and Dunedin, respectively, if the financing can be worked out to make just the second ever dual-team complex in the Grapefruit League a plan that comes to fruition. Much of the funding plan for the estimated $100 million complex centers around $50 million that the state provides (for a two-team complex) to keep teams training in Florida. Palm Beach County is scheduled to pay off Roger Dean Stadium in 2017 and they could use the portion of the local tourist tax that has been used to pay debt service on that ballpark for the new one, which could open as early as 2016 for the Astros. The Jays are committed to finishing their lease in Dunedin, which means 2018 is when they would be looking to leave their Tampa area site, although both team and city are adamant that abandonment is not a done deal.
Tigers Allow Fans Early Entrance to Watch BP for $5
In general, the gates at spring training ballparks don't open early enough for fans to see the home team hit, which usually happens between two and three hours before game time. That being the case, the Tigers came up with the idea to offer fans that opportunity...for a fee. For $5, fans can now get into Lakeland's Joker Marchant Stadium an hour or so early to watch the Tigers take their BP from the place where BP homers often land: the grass hill in left field. For fans wanting to partake in the "batting practice experience," the cost is added onto the regular cost of a ticket at the box office, where already bought tickets can be upgraded for the same $5 price. You must have a game ticket to be eligible to get in early and the only part of the ballpark that is open early is the berm and left field line bleacher grandstand. Admission is via the 3rd base gate only and the time for early batting practice admittance can vary slightly. For day games, it's usually 10:00 a.m. but it actually depends on when the Tigers start hitting, which could be later like 10:15 but is always going to be in the 10:00ish range. While many teams will likely copy the Tigers and offer such access in the future, right now they're the only one doing it exactly this way. As for fan interest, about 2,000 showed up to see Tigers BP on February 23. The two games that preceded the opener averaged about 200 early admissions.
Ground is Broken For New Cubs Spring Training Complex
The countdown to the next new spring training stadium has officially begun and the city of Mesa has 19 months to get it done following the July 11th groundbreaking of the complex that the Chicago Cubs will be moving to in 2014. The future site is about three miles west of the Cubs' current Cactus League home, Hohokam Park, and is being constructed, at a cost of $99 million to the city, on land where a golf course had stood for a half-century. The Cubs have trained continuously in Mesa since 1979 and the new ballpark will be the third one used in the city by them since then. The team also hopes to share it with a sublessee -- Arizona State University (although talks between the two have not been going well) -- while Mesa is trying to lure the Oakland A's into the stadium that the Cubs will be abandoning, which hasn't made officials happy in Phoenix, where the A's have trained since 1982. As for the new place, it will hold 15,000 fans and the Cubs have a 30-year agreement with Mesa to play in what will be the largest capacity spring training stadium ever built.
Brewers Decide to Remain in Maryvale
Only one team's spring training lease expired in 2012 and that team decided on April 3 to stay where they are a little while longer, with the emphasis being on little, as the Milwaukee Brewers re-upped with the City of Phoenix to continue using Maryvale Baseball Park through 2014. That deal was contingent on Phoenix making $1.5 million in improvements to the Brewers' offices and clubhouses and contains a series of 1-year options that the team can exercise to stay in their western Phoenix complex through 2022. Milwaukee has trained in Maryvale since 1998 and gets to keep all the revenue from tickets, concessions, souvenirs, advertising and parking. In 2012, the Brewers paid $554,509 in rent and drew an average paid crowd of 5,476 for their 15 Cactus League home games. The franchise has always trained in Arizona and prefers to stay in the state, although given the dismal state of the economy their options to move anywhere were limited. Only Scottsdale was briefly mentioned as a relocation target, but the Brewers quickly shot that rumor down. The team also declined to speak with officials in Fort Myers, FL about City of Palms Park, which the Red Sox vacated after 2011.
Fans Flock to Games Under Floodlights
While nearly 90% of spring training games begin in the afternoon, fans continue to fill up a greater percentage of stadium seats for night games, which may be becoming more popular as a result. In 2009-10, just 91 games were scheduled to start after 6:00 PM. That number increased to 115 for the 2011-12 seasons. In all four of those seasons, the average game attendance in both leagues was easily much higher for the easier to attend night games than day games. For example, in 2012 the Cactus League averaged 8,202 fans for its 27 night games and 7,406 for its 205 day games. The Grapefruit League's numbers were similarly higher: a 7,575 average for 29 night games versus 6,816 for 211 afternoon games. So the bottom line is better at the box office at night with both teams and fans benefiting, as out-of-towners have the opportunity to see two games in one calendar day while local fans can go to the midweek games they usually must miss to work. As for the teams missing out on the nighttime bonanza, just six did not host a night game in 2012: the Angels, Brewers and Cubs in Arizona and the Blue Jays, Cardinals and Phillies in Florida. Those were also the only six teams not to host a night game in 2011.
Spring Training Features
Let's Watch Two
Ernie Banks famously said "Let's play two!" and while there are no doubleheaders during spring training there are plenty of opportunities for fans to watch two games in one day. With 65 games scheduled to be played at night in 2013 fans can enjoy a day/night DH at different ballparks. Check out the list of 2013 Spring Training Night Games to plan your creative double dip.
Tips For Getting Autographs
How do you get autographs in Spring Training? Joe Connor answers that question. Read his article, How to Get Autographs During Spring Training, to learn about the three important factors autograph seekers must be aware of in their quest.
A Guide to Attending Spring Training Practice...and Getting Autographs at Them
Proximity to the pros at a price that can't be beat. That sums up the free to attend practice only portion of spring training, during which time autographs are easy to come by and barriers between players and fans are often remarkably minimal. Spring training in February has an ambiance of fan-friendliness that's unmatched in professional sports. To help you bask in it, Graham Knight has compiled a guide with team-by-team listings of where practices are actually held, when you should be there, and the guidelines for getting autographs at them.
Before the games begin, players have to report to camp. To see when pitchers and catchers report and first practices are held for your team, visit the 2013 Spring Training Reporting Dates page.
The Best Ballpark Atmospheres During Spring Training
In 2011, Joe Connor ranked, from worst to first, the general game day atmosphere found at each Grapefruit and Cactus League ballpark. Not surprisingly, the rabid Red Sox and Cubs fan bases ensured that their teams topped the respective lists.
Things To Do In Arizona and Florida During Spring Training
Fans of all ages have plenty to experience and see in the Grand Canyon and Sunshine States besides watching their favorite team train in their winter home. Joe Connor details a “starting nine” of sports and recreation things to do when you're not at your favorite team’s ballpark.
Planning For Spring Training
What do you need to know before you go? Joe Connor helps you answer that question in his article, 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning Your Spring Training Trip.
To Dine For: Ranking the Ballparks Based on the Food They Offer
In 2009, Peoria and Lakeland topped our list by having the best ballpark concessions fare in their respective leagues. Which other ballparks also did a good job at satisfying appetites? See the rankings and explanations for all 26.
Spring Training History
Spring Training Sites of World Series Teams
Shockingly, more teams have advanced to the World Series after training in Cuba than in Sarasota, from which no team has ever embarked on a championship run despite 80 years of trying. To see where the World Series winners have wintered (and the runner-ups too), we've listed the city/states where all 108 Fall Classic participants held their Spring Training camps, breaking the list down into two eras: 1947 to present, and 1903-1946. That split was chosen because 1947 was the first year that teams permanently set up camp in Arizona. Since that groundbreaking spring training, the only states to send their trainees to the World Series are Arizona and Florida; prior to '47 the finalists came from 10 states.
2013 Spring Training Recap
For the first time in five years, no team made a debut at a new site or ballpark in 2013, when all teams spent more time than normal in their spring training camps thanks to the World Baseball Classic.
Because of the WBC, spring training was expanded by a week, which allowed for 515 games to be played, the first time the 500-game mark had been surpassed since 2009, when the WBC last interrupted spring training.
To help teams prepare for the WBC, MLB teams played 10 of the participating countries in 20 exhibition games that added an international flair to Cactus and Grapefruit League schedules and contributed to the grand total of 3,425,705 fans who paid to watch baseball during 2013 spring training at 27 ballparks in Arizona and Florida.
In the Cactus League, 255 games were played by 15 teams in 12 ballparks. Total attendance was 1,743,443, an average of 6,837 per game. Nine games were rained out, all on March 8. Two of the league's games were played at Tucson's Kino Stadium, and they drew 21,942 fans to the former spring training home of the Diamondbacks and White Sox. The Diamondbacks' current regular season home, Chase Field, also hosted two games, contributing 28,907 fans to the 2013 Cactus League total.
In the Grapefruit League, 260 games were played by 15 teams in 15 ballparks. Total attendance was 1,682,262, an average of 6,546 per game. Just two games were rained out. The Rays played one official spring training game in their regular season dome, Tropicana Field, and it drew 15,167, while another 13,049 were added to the final tally as that's how many paid to watch a small number of games between Major League clubs and collegiate teams.
The average attendance for a spring training game in 2013 was 6,691, which was down 536 fans per game from 2012, when 465 games drew a total of 3,360,742 fans to Cactus and Grapefruit League ballparks.
While no new ballparks opened in 2013, a very old one got a new and updated look, as Bradenton's McKechnie Field (est. 1923) was the beneficiary of a $10 million upgrade, which increased its capacity (from 6,602 to 8,500) and added numerous amenities. The Pirates' spring training home became the fourth Florida ballpark to be substantially renovated in a 5-year span, as the Sunshine State continues to invest in improving facilities to prevent teams from bolting to Arizona.
The Dodgers bolted from Florida to Arizona in 2009, and in 2013 they hosted the largest crowd to ever attend a game in a spring training ballpark -- 13,721 -- for their March 23 game against their complex mates, the White Sox, at Glendale's Camelback Ranch. The new record bested the old one, which the Dodgers set the previous spring at Camelback Ranch, by 66 fans.
Long synonymous with big crowds has been Mesa's Hohokam Park, but the Cubs bid their mere 16-year old ballpark adieu in 2013. They drew 2,610,736 fans to Hohokam for 264 games but the ballpark won't be hosting any games in 2014, when the Cubs will still be playing in Mesa but a few miles west of where they've been since 1997 thanks to the construction of a new, and approximately $100 million, world-class facility that the city is builiding for the franchise that has never played in a World Series during the history of the Cactus League.
Hohokam's not done as a spring training ballpark, however. It will just be on a one-year hiatus, as the ballpark is being downsized to welcome the Cactus League's most decorated franchise, the four-time World Series champion Oakland A's, come 2015.
2013 Attendance Rankings
(home games only, ranked by per game average)
* Attendance figures include all games in which paid admission was collected at a spring training ballpark
|Grapefruit League ||City ||Average ||Total
2. Red Sox
12. Blue Jays
Port St. Lucie
|Cactus League ||City ||Average ||Total
9. White Sox
* Standings only include games played in Arizona and Florida between MLB teams
2013 Grapefruit League Standings
| ||W ||L || T ||GB
|Orioles ||19 || 9 || 4 || -
|Braves ||20 ||15 || || 2½
|Tigers ||19 ||14 || 2 || 2½
|Twins ||17 ||16 || || 4½
|Cardinals ||16 ||15 || 1 || 4½
|Phillies ||16 ||15 || 1 || 4½
|Red Sox ||17 ||17 || 1 || 5
|Mets ||15 ||15 || 3 || 5
|Rays ||15 ||17 || 2 || 6
|Astros ||14 ||16 || 3 || 6
|Blue Jays ||14 ||17 || 1 || 6½
|Nationals ||14 ||17 || 2 || 6½
|Marlins ||13 ||16 || 2 || 6½
|Pirates ||13 ||18 || 1 || 7½
|Yankees ||13 ||18 || 1 || 7½
2013 Cactus League Standings
| ||W ||L || T ||GB
|Royals ||25 || 7 || 2 || -
|Mariners ||21 ||11 || || 4
|A's ||15 ||12 || 3 || 7½
|Rockies ||16 ||14 || || 8
|Giants ||15 ||13 || 4 || 8
|Indians ||17 ||16 || 2 || 8½
|White Sox ||13 ||13 || 3 || 9
|D-backs ||16 ||17 || 2 || 9½
|Padres ||16 ||18 || ||10
|Cubs ||15 ||17 || 1 ||10
|Rangers ||14 ||16 || 2 ||10
|Brewers ||12 ||17 || 2 ||11½
|Reds ||13 ||20 || 2 ||12½
|Dodgers ||11 ||19 || 3 ||13
|Angels || 9 ||18 || 4 ||13½
"People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
- Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby
"It's the fans that need spring training. You gotta get 'em interested. Wake 'em up and let 'em know that their season is coming, the good times are gonna roll.”
- Harry Caray
Contact Us With Any Questions About Spring Training