While the Rays don't play in Tampa for spring training, fans can still catch the home team often. (Image via Shutterstock.com)

Major League Baseball (MLB) spring training is one of the best reasons to live in the Tampa region. Since 1913, when the Chicago Cubs arrived, professional baseball teams have traveled to Tampa in the spring to prepare for regular season play. Today, the New York Yankees attract fans to their stadium near Downtown Tampa, while the Toronto Blue Jays and the Philadelphia Phillies play right across the Bay in Dunedin and Clearwater.

With the stadiums so close together and games being played almost daily from late February to late March, Tampa residents and visitors can see a game every day. Check out one or all of these Grapefruit League spring training stadiums.

George M. Steinbrenner Field - Tampa

Named after the legendary owner, George M. Steinbrenner Field delights Yankees fans every spring. (Image via Jared442_80)

The Yankees might be one of the most celebrated teams in baseball, and their spring training stadium is named after one of the most recognizable baseball team owners in MLB. Built in 1996, Steinbrenner Field covers 31 acres and is used as a venue for concerts, events, and tournaments during the year. It holds more than 11,000 baseball fans and sits right across the street from Raymond James Stadium, where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play football.

2019 Game Schedule

The first spring training game at Steinbrenner Field will be on February 25, 2019, and a total of 17 games will be played before the regular season starts. Most games are in the afternoon at 1:05 p.m. Night games begin at 6:35 p.m., and there are a few of those throughout March. For the Yankees, the regular season starts on March 28, 2019, with a home opener in New York against the Baltimore Orioles.

How to Get There

Arriving at the stadium is surprisingly uncomplicated for being in the middle of Tampa. Plenty of parking is available across the street at the football stadium and in neighboring lots, and costs between $10 and $20, depending on the area of your seat. For driving to the game, Interstate 275 to Dale Mabry Highway (Route 92) is the main route.

How Much are Tickets?

Tickets are a little pricier than they are for other teams. Yankees spring training individual game tickets are between $30 and $55. The Pinstripe Pass is something to consider for fans on a budget. For $27, you get a ticket to sit in the outfield lawn and a free drink (domestic beer for visitors over 21 years of age or soft drinks for younger guests). Season tickets for spring training are available, and cost between $500 and $1,360.

Fun Ballpark Fare

There’s a team store at the stadium, and once you’re inside, you don’t want to leave, because re-entry is prohibited. Wings, burgers, and hot dogs are the most popular concession items, and there are now two clubs at the field where you can buy specialty cocktails like martinis and mojitos.

What to Do Before and After Games

Spring training season occurs during hockey season, so sports fans in Tampa can easily catch a Yankees game in the afternoon and then head over to Amelie Arena for a Tampa Bay Lightning game in the evening. Tampa offers plenty of activities for before or after your Yankees game. Stroll through the historic Ybor neighborhood where you can sample some authentic Cuban food, shop for souvenirs, or sip a cocktail while you people-watch.

Nearby 55+ Communities

The Tampa Bay area offers dozens of active adult communities that are worth a visit while you’re in town. The diversity of the area allows you to look at high-rise condos in St. Petersburg or acres of scenic land in the suburbs of Tampa. Valencia Lakes is in Wimauma, just south of Tampa and near Sun City Center, one of the most popular neighborhoods for 55+ living.

If you don’t want age restrictions, check out MiraBay in Apollo Beach, one of the most desirable communities in the area, and less than half an hour from downtown.

Dunedin Stadium - Dunedin

Dunedin has been the Dodgers spring training home since the 1970s. (Image via WEBN-TV)

The Blue Jays spring training camp at Dunedin Stadium is one of the most intimate places to watch baseball. The park only holds about 5,500 people, so fans get close to their favorite players and there’s not a bad seat to be found. The Toronto team has been playing in Dunedin since 1977, and in 2017 they signed an agreement for another 25 years at this stadium. The Blue Jays are the only MLB team never to have changed spring training facilities.

2019 Game Schedule

The team will play 16 home games at Dunedin Stadium during spring training, and most of them are afternoon games beginning at 1:05 p.m. or 1:07 p.m.

How to Get There

The stadium is on the corner of Douglas Avenue and Beltrees Street. Dunedin is a small coastal town and they’re proud of their spring training team, so you’ll see lots of signs leading you to the field. From Tampa, take one of the bridges across the Bay and look for U.S. 19. Parking is on Douglas Avenue and it fills up fast. Look for local lots, which will cost between $5 and $15.

How Much are Tickets?

Regular game tickets cost between $20 and $32, while premium game tickets go for $27 to $38. Buying a game pack for three, six, or nine games will provide some savings, and there are also season tickets available, which include early admission and member gifts. You’ll pay between $308 and $443 for those.

Fun Ballpark Fare

All the usual fan favorites are available at the concession stands, including hot dogs, ice cream, and french fries. For a drink and a break from the heat, check out the Craft Beer Lounge, an air-conditioned bar on the press box level.

What to Do Before and After Games

If you’re not in a hurry to get back to Tampa after the game, check out Honeymoon Island. Swim in the Gulf of Mexico, walk down the nature trail, and look for osprey carrying their catch of the day to nests perched high in the trees. Caladesi Island is just a boat ride away and offers quiet, scenic beaches, kayaking opportunities, and a hike through mangrove forests. Dunedin is close enough to Clearwater and Tampa that taking in a second spring training game is not out of the question.

Nearby 55+ Communities

Save some time in Dunedin to visit the area’s best 55+ communities. Heather Ridge has affordable condos and attached villas and a lot of community amenities. Residents enjoy playing shuffleboard together and hosting barbecues and social events. Royal Stewart Arms is a condo community for residents 55+ and is located on Honeymoon Island. Dunedin offers active adults affordable options for waterfront living.

Spectrum Field - Clearwater

Phillies fans enjoy a stadium in a prime location in Clearwater. (Image via P. Bauck)

Philadelphia Phillies spring training games are played at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. The Phillies have been training in this facility since 2004. They’ve been in Clearwater since 1948, however, playing in nearby Carpenter Field before the current stadium was built. Spectrum Field holds 8,800 fans. There’s a play area for kids, a tiki bar in left field, and plenty of places for picnics.

2019 Game Schedule

The spring training home opener for the Phillies is on February 23, 2019, against the Pittsburgh Pirates. All of the 17 home games will be played in the afternoon, beginning at 1:05 p.m. They fly home for their regular season home opener on March 28, 2019, against the Atlanta Braves.

How to Get There

Spectrum Field is on Old Coachman Road, visible from U.S. 19. Take the Courtney Campbell Causeway (Highway 60) bridge from Tampa to U.S. 19 and you’ll see the stadium on the right. Parking is near the west entrance on the grass and costs $10.

How Much are Tickets?

Ticket prices start at $14 and go up to $34 for club seats. You’re welcome to bring blankets, towels, and cushions for those $14 general admission seats on the grass, but chairs are not permitted. Phillies Alumni Day is on March 5, 2019, where baseball legends will be on hand to sign autographs and pose for photos.

Fun Ballpark Fare

There’s a Sea Dog Bar and a “Beers of the World” concession stand for baseball fans who also appreciate craft beer. Sample over 100 different brews. The Top Your Dog Hot Dog Cart offers customized hot dogs, while local Tampa eateries like Pete & Shorty’s and Westshore Pizza have concession stations at the ballpark.

What to Do Before and After Games

Since all the home games are in the afternoon, you’ll have plenty of time after the baseball game to head to Pier 60 for a sunset. Not only do you get to enjoy breathtaking views of the Gulf, you can fish from the 1,080 foot pier and visit the bait house for all your fishing needs.

In the evenings, there’s a sunset festival which includes street performers, food, and crafts. If you’re in town with the grandkids, swing by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and visit their most famous resident - Winter the Dolphin.

Nearby 55+ Communities

Four active adult communities in Clearwater embrace everything 55+ residents are looking for in a home. They’re all close to the beach, major shops, and popular restaurants. They’re also accessible to St. Petersburg and Tampa. Check out On Top of the World and its 96 condo buildings.

Village on the Green has resort-style amenities, a relaxing pool, and many different styles of homes, from single-family houses to attached villas. The Villas of Lake Arbor offers lakeside living, a fishing pier, and miles of trails and paths for walking and biking. Harbor Oaks Place is a smaller community, with only 70 residences.