Grapefruit League spring training guide
If you’re looking to see some exhibition Major League Baseball, you’ll have to head to one of two places. Both Florida, where the Grapefruit League resides, and Arizona, home of the Cactus League, are warm, sunny and full of interesting venues to visit — indeed, seeing the spring ballparks can be just as fun and rewarding as taking a regular-season ballpark tour, and whichever state you choose, you’ll have less ground to cover as well.
Read on for more about making the most of a visit to the Grapefruit League. For our perspective on the Cactus League, click here.
Click placemark in index to find on map | View Grapefruit League stadiums in a larger map
The Grapefruit League is distinctly more spread-out than its Arizona counterpart in that it’s spread out the width of Florida and contains a mix of sites in or close to major metropolitan areas (Tampa Bay, South Florida) and small-town sites. It has also evolved in recent years with several franchise shifts, the latest coming in 2017 with the Astros and Nationals moving into a dual complex in West Palm Beach.
Here’s a list of venues for the 15 Grapefruit League teams, or you can pinpoint them in the map above. (Note: Click on each team name to see its 2017 spring training schedule.)
• The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches: Home of the Astros and Nationals. Located at 5444 Haverhill Road, West Palm Beach.
• Champion Stadium: Home of the Braves. Located at 700 S. Victory Way in Kissimmee (on the grounds of the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex).
• Charlotte Sports Park: Home of the Rays. Located at 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte.
• Ed Smith Stadium: Home of the Orioles. Located at 2700 12th Street, Sarasota.
• Florida Auto Exchange Stadium: Home of the Blue Jays. Located at 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin.
• Hammond Stadium: Home of the Twins. Located at 14400 6 Mile Cypress Pkwy., Fort Myers.
• JetBlue Park: Home of the Red Sox. Located at 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort Myers.
• Joker Marchant Stadium: Home of the Tigers. Located at 2301 Lakeland Hills Blvd., Lakeland.
• McKechnie Field: Home of the Pirates. Located at 1611 9th Street West, Bradenton.
• Roger Dean Stadium: Home of the Cardinals and Marlins. Located at 4751 Main Street, Jupiter.
• Spectrum Field: Home of the Phillies. Located at 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater.
• Steinbrenner Field: Home of the Yankees. Located at 1 Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa.
• Tradition Field: Home of the Mets. Located at 525 NW Peacock Blvd., Port St. Lucie.
Traversing an entire state can be a bit of a challenge, so more so than in the Cactus League, a bit of planning is needed to get around the Grapefruit League. You’ll need a sturdy car, of course, and a bit of patience, as Florida’s highways can get a little crowded in March with the influx of snowbirds, spring breakers and other vacationers joining the many baseball fans out there. Here are a few tips for getting from venue to venue.
• The venues tend to be concentrated along Florida’s two coasts, the Gulf Coast on the west and the Atlantic coast on the east. Unless you want to be really ambitious or you have plenty of time on your hands, consider concentrating your time and energy on one side to reduce your travel time. For reference, it would take more than two hours (a distance of about 135 miles) to get from the northernmost ballpark on the Gulf Coast (Dunedin) to the southernmost (Fort Myers); on the Atlantic coast, it’s about 50 miles between Port St. Lucie and Dunedin, though there are only five teams total training there.
• If you do want to cross from one side of the state to the other, plan on at least a 2½-hour drive — at least, that’s how long it would take to get from Fort Myers to West Palm Beach via “Alligator Alley,” aka Interstate 75 through the Everglades. You can also take I-4 between Tampa and Orlando (a good route if you want to catch the Tigers in Lakeland or the Braves in Kissimmee) and then Florida’s Turnpike south toward the Atlantic coast venues.
• If you’re looking to stay in one place for the duration of your Grapefruit League vacation and still be in close proximity to many of the venues, the Tampa area is your best bet. Three teams (the Yankees, Phillies and Blue Jays) train in the area, and three more (the Pirates, Orioles and Tigers) have their bases within an hour’s drive.
• To keep up with the Cactus League, which used a glut of new stadiums to poach several teams (as recently as 2003, there were 20 teams in the Grapefruit League compared to just 10 in the Cactus League; now it’s split 15-15), the Grapefruit League saw a mini-surge in facility construction and upgrades. The 2017 exhibition season will usher in a new facility, The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, and the Braves are also on the lookout for a site to build a new spring complex.
• Many spring ballparks go out of their way to offer some of the same creature comforts that fans expect from teams’ regular-season homes. That’s most evident in the food offerings. For example, you can find cheesesteaks at the Phillies’ Spectrum Field, Fenway Franks at JetBlue Park, coney dogs at Joker Marchant Stadium and more.
• The creature-comfort thing extends to ballpark design as well — particularly at JetBlue Park, which comes complete with a Green Monster (and yes, has seating at the top of the wall) and is part of a complex known as “Fenway South.” The Yankees’ Steinbrenner Field has the familiar frieze that distinguishes Yankee Stadium, and the Phillies’ Spectrum Field was built with the same dimensions as Citizens Bank Park (the two parks opened the same year, 2004).
Things to do
If you do wind up in the Tampa area, there’s plenty to do, from hanging out along the Gulf Coast beaches to visiting Ybor City and Busch Gardens. For a more thorough rundown, check out our Tampa city guide.
For those whose travels will take them to Port St. Lucie, Jupiter or West Palm Beach, consider going a little farther south down I-95 to check out the Miami area. See our Miami city guide for all the happenings there.
If you’re planning to see the Braves in Kissimmee, or simply intend to pass through, check out all the amusement parks the Orlando area has to offer. There’s Walt Disney World, of course, but also Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld, Legoland Florida and more. You can find a full list of Orlando-area amusement parks here.
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to see other sports during your Grapefruit League sojourn. Consider checking out the NHL’s Lightning at Amalie Arena in Tampa, the NBA’s Magic at Amway Center in Orlando, the NHL’s Panthers at BB&T Center in Sunrise (west of Fort Lauderdale), or the NBA’s Heat at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.
The NCAA men’s basketball tournament will also be crashing the spring training party in 2017. Catch first- and second-round games at Orlando’s Amway Center on March 16 and 18, respectively.