It’s that time of year again and the first signs of the new season have just arrived, temperatures are a little warmer, days are a little longer and Major League Baseball spring training has officially kicked off in the Sunshine State.
Major league baseball teams began traveling to Florida for spring training nearly 100 years ago. Northern teams saw Florida as the perfect place to escape frigid winter temperatures and get in shape by practicing and playing exhibition games in the warm sub-tropical sun.
And for die-hard Florida sports fans craving a healthy dose of baseball after the long winter break, spring training is just what the doctor ordered. Between March and April, teams will play a total of 236 spring training exhibition games beneath the palm trees of 14 different central and south Florida locations, attracting baseball fans from all over the country. In fact, in 10 of the last 12 seasons, Major League spring training has brought more than 1.5 million fans to Florida.
Spring training games offer fans a different type of baseball experience than some are accustomed to. Most of the state-of-the-art spring-training ballparks hold less than 10,000 people, with many of the seats so close to the action that fans can hear the on-field chatter. Even tickets and game-day essentials like beer and hotdogs carry a much lighter price tag than during the regular season. Spring training is also one of the best times for fans to get a chance to interact with players in a laid-back, intimate atmosphere.
The 2012 spring training season may prove to be one of the most exciting in recent years, especially since the home town teams, the Tampa Bay Rays and the newly named Miami Marlins, spent the off-season making big changes in preparation for the new season.
There is renewed enthusiasm surrounding the former World Series Champion Marlins ball club, who will not only be playing in a new $515 million dollar stadium, sporting new uniforms, but also spent big-bucks during the off-season to acquire all-stars Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell, in order to strengthen the team’s roster. The Fish will play a full roster of exhibition games, starting with a March 5 match against the World Series champs, the St. Louis Cardinals, at Robert Dean Stadium in Jupiter.
The Rays also have high expectations for the 2012 season. The team is looking to continue the momentum of their 2011 playoff success, believing that a strong start in spring training will result in a strong finish during the regular season that could lead them all the way to the World Series. For the most part, the Rays will be sticking with the same line up as last year, which boasts an exceptional pitching staff, including rookie phenom Matt Moore. The Rays were to take the field for the first time against the Minnesota Twins March 3 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte.
Spring training provides a sporting experience like none other and fun for the whole family. Find more information about the 2012 Florida Spring Training season and the 15 teams holding their spring training in Florida. Fans can view 2012 schedule team schedules, ticket and stadium information and even order a complimentary copy of the 2012 Florida Spring Training Guide online.