This year’s Spring Training game lineup will showcase some of Major League Baseball’s marquee teams, including the reigning World Series Champion Boston Red Sox and National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
This year’s roster retains many of the players on the 2013 National League East champion squad, including a core of strong young players, first baseman Freddie Freeman, right fielder Jason Heyward, left fielder Justin Upton and shortstop Andrelton Simmons. The Braves’ pitching staff remains mostly unchanged (excluding the loss of Tim Hudson) from the league-leading ERA lineup of last year. The projected rotation includes Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood, with Craig Kimbrel, Jordan Walden and Luis Avilan in the bullpen.
Information on the Braves’ Spring Training season tickets, suite/hospitality, group tickets and mini-plans is available by calling our Premium Sales team at 407/939-GAME (4263) and online at www.espnwwos.com/atlantabraves. The popular mini-packs are now on sale, featuring four separate three-game options in 2014 and giving fans their first opportunity to purchase tickets to specific games on the Braves’ 2014 spring training schedule.
One of my favorite times of year is just about a week away! Although it may be snowing where you are, the lawns are neatly manicured, the lines are ready to be chalked, the sun is out, and it is almost baseball season! Pitchers and catchers begin reporting to Major League Baseball Spring Training locations in Florida and Arizona in the next few days. My favorite team, the Atlanta Braves, report on February 13th. That means the beginning of Spring Training is not far behind, starting for most teams on February 26th.
I cannot wait to get back to see my team at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports at Champion Stadium. I absolutely love Spring Training and the access it gives you to some of your favorite stars as well as giving you the opportunity to see the up and comers. You can read about some of my previous Spring Training experiences with the Atlanta Braves in particular as well as other teams here.
The great thing about living in Florida this time of year is the opportunity to catch the Atlanta Braves around at several different stadiums within a couple hours radius of my house. I’m hoping to catch at least one game at Walt Disney World since it is their home field. I am looking forward to the season even more now knowing two of our return players, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, have been locked into contracts for at least a couple of years each.
Tickets are available for purchase now to individual games or in what are called “mini plans” with blocks of three games bundled together. You can buy tickets through Ticketmaster online or by phone, or in person at the Champion Stadium Box Office from 9am to 5pm seven days a week. I like the relatively new feature on the website where you can pick out individual seats, which is handy if you are trying to meet up with friends for a game if they’ve already got tickets.
Have you been to an Atlanta Braves Spring Training game? Are you as excited as I am to get back to America’s pastime? Hope to see you there!
McKechnie Field in Bradenton is one of baseball’s best stadiums for spring training. It is quaint and has charm, even after its huge refurbishment completed earlier this year. The stadium has even been compared to the venerable Fenway Park in Boston. Home to spring training of the Pittsburgh Pirates, McKechnie Field was first built in 1923 and has been a part of the Grapefruit League for the Pirates since 1969.
Living in Bradenton, I’ve had the opportunity to catch many spring training games. McKechnie Field is a fantastic location that is literally a five minute drive from my house. On special nights there are sometimes fireworks, which I can see from my driveway about 20 blocks away. For the Pirates’ 40th Anniversary at McKechnie Field, lights were added to the stadium so night games could be played there finally. Baseball at night in Florida is great since it does tend to be pretty warm here.
In 2010, Minor League Baseball came to Bradenton in the form of the Bradenton Marauders, Pittsburgh’s single A team. The stadium seats about 8,500, which is a nice intimate feel where you can get seats very close to the field. This is a great feeling, especially during Spring Training when you can see some of your favorite players just feet away from you. In comparison to the Atlanta Braves’ location at Champion Stadium at Walt Disney World, McKechnie Field is about 1,000 seats smaller.
Accessibility is a key factor in getting to a game for me. I love baseball, and being able to decide last minute to catch a game and to pay less than $10 for a ticket day of game, is fantastic. You can even get advance tickets for about $6 which makes the games even that much more appealing. This weekend my mom and I were lucky enough to catch some great weather, which this time of year is a challenge. We decided last minute to go to the Marauder’s game since it was the last home game of the season.
I hadn’t been to McKechnie Field for a little over a year and a half and was very impressed with all of the new renovations. The concessions have been vastly improved as well as new restrooms added. In the outfield there is a great boardwalk section with tables and chairs along the outfield wall with great views. The food is relatively affordable and so are drinks as far as baseball food goes. Our tickets were about $17 for the two of us, mom had a bbq pulled pork sandwich, I had an Italian sausage and we split nachos for about another $17. Then we each had a 24 ounce premium draft beer for $6.50 each. That to me was a huge steal, especially since it was at the Kona bar where they had Koko Brown, Longboard Lager, Fire Rock Pale Ale and Big Wave Golden Ale on draft.
We had great seats about 7 or 8 rows behind the Marauder’s dugout just a little behind first base. The game was pretty slow at first, but the Marauders pulled out the win, with a rally in the bottom of the 8th to beat the Fort Myers Miracle 3-2. In each half inning there are great games to keep the fans involved, especially the kids. This includes things like hula hoop contest, frozen tshirt contest, dizzy bat run, and many more. The kids seem to be really interested in these and they are fun to keep the adults entertained too.
After the game there was a special fireworks show for the last game at McKechnie Field of the season. They will also do special nights throughout the summer where they do the fireworks, in addition to holidays like 4th of July. There are great areas for groups to reserve and quite a few were in use the other night. They were setup in roped off sections of the boardwalk area with buffet stations for dinner. This seemed like a fun way to experience the game with a group of friends.
All in all, McKechnie Field is a great place to experience baseball, whether for the Pirates during spring training or for the Marauders games that usually run from April through August. If you get an opportunity, I strongly encourage you to check out this great baseball stadium that is a fantastic place just minutes from the Gulf Beaches. Parking fees usually run from $5-10 in area parking lots around the stadium.
Have you been to McKechnie Field? Have you been to either spring training or a minor league game before? If not, you have a few months to plan before spring training rolls around in the end of February. Get planning!
Spring training is one of my absolute favorite things about living in Florida. I am fortunate enough to have over half a dozen Major League Baseball teams that have their spring training facilities within about an hour of where I live. For those who aren’t familiar, professional baseball teams are split into two leagues for preseason training: the Cactus League in Arizona and the Grapefruit League here in Florida.
The nearest stadium for me is the Pittsburgh Pirates home at McKechnie Field here in Bradenton, which is less than two miles from my house. This is probably one of the two stadiums where I have attended the most games in the past 15 years living in Florida. The other most visited field for me is Champion Stadium at ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World where my favorite team, the Atlanta Braves, have their home field. It is really nice having access to baseball so close to home. I was even able to meet my favorite player Chipper Jones just five minutes from my house during spring training!
Chipper Jones at Spring Training
One of the best things about spring training is the accessibility to the players. Often times the stadiums are smaller and more intimate than their regular season counterparts. This provides fans with closer seats to the field usually and more opportunities to meet and get autographs from your favorite players. Spring training is a great chance to travel around the state and experience different stadiums and also to get to see up and coming players before they make it to the big show.
Of the 15 teams that currently train in the Grapefruit League, I’ve been to five of the stadiums for spring training games over the years. Eventually, I would love to travel around to see games in each of the stadiums around the state since all are within a two to three hour drive from my home. This past weekend I was lucky enough to catch the Braves play the Mets at home in Lake Buena Vista, then saw the Nationals host the Astros in Viera. It was a fantastic weekend filled with great baseball and got me even more excited for regular season to start in a few weeks. I owe a big thank you to the Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism for hosting us at the Nationals game!
The Braves game was extra special as the weekend’s games were themed after Star Wars! I was so stoked when I first heard this announced and even started planning how I was going to incorporate both the Star Wars and Braves into my attire for the game. It was so cool how they brought in Star Wars characters at the beginning of the game like Chewbacca to cheer on the ceremonial first pitch. Darth Vader decided he needed to have a pep talk with the umps while Stormtroopers guarded the Braves dugout. The Disney characters even got into the spirit with Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy and Stormtrooper Donald all making appearances at the 7th inning stretch to lead the singalong of Take Me Out To The Ball Game while accompanied by the X Wing Fighter Pilot Saxophone Quarter. All in all it was definitely an enhanced experience that I’d love to see Disney Sports continue.
If you get an opportunity to head to Florida in the month of March, please come visit one of the great spring training facilities the Grapefruit League has to offer. Tickets are often very affordable, especially in comparison to regular season games. Who knows, if you’re lucky, you may even get to meet and get an autograph from your favorite player just minutes after you see him hit a home run. Have you been to spring training in Florida before? What are some of your favorite things about it?
This year the Atlanta Braves return to ESPN Wide World of Sports to play their Spring Training games in Champion Stadium for the 16th year. It’s a really great chance to see some of your favorite teams play some Spring Ball.
I grew up an Atlanta Brave’s fan, I even had a pretty sweet Dale Murphy poster in my room, and having their Spring Training games so close to me makes me giddy!
The Atlanta Braves have a full and awesome Spring Training Schedule this year, and even if the Atlanta Braves aren’t ‘your’ team chances are they might be visiting Champion Stadium for a game!
In addition to the regular Spring Training games, for the first time there will be themed games to help bring a little bit of pixie dust and magic to the following games:
Mar 10 – Princess & Pirate
Mar 15 – Star Wars
Mar 16 – Star Wars
Mar 21 – Princess & Pirate
Mar 23 – Salute To Our Troops
For these games, everyone is encouraged to dress up as their favorite characters!
When we visited Champion Stadium for the Brave’s first game of Spring Training, I was really excited to be able to be so close to the Brave’s Dugout! There are a ton of great ticket options available to see the games! Viewing the Champion Stadium seating chart is a great place to start with deciding on which ticket option is the best for your family. And during the game, there are a ton of fun games and trivia challenges that you can participate in to win tickets, fast passes, and other goodies!
I have to say that there is some pretty sweet Atlanta Braves Spring Training merchandise available at the games! I had to walk away quickly before I bought out the whole store!!! I love how the merchandise pays homage to Florida’s Spring Training history and is super fun!
Here are some things you might want to keep in mind as you make your way to Champion Stadium to see an Atlanta Brave’s Spring Training Game:
Make sure that you keep hydrated (and no beer doesn’t fully count), wear sunscreen, and dress appropriately, because you will be in the sun for quite some time!
Items NOT Allowed (NOTE: All bags will be inspected prior to entering the park)
no outside food or drinks
no lawn chairs
Smoking Policy: Smoking not allowed in seats or concourse area. Smoking is only allowed in designated smoking areas.
Children: All ages are welcome. Ages 0-2 admitted free on ticket holder’s lap (no ticket required). A ticket is required for all children 3 and older.
Box Office Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm and Sunday: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Will Call: Located at Guest Services (left-hand side of the main entrance). Opens 2 hour prior to the game. Customer must present the actual credit card used for the purchase, a photo ID and Ticketmaster order number in order to receive tickets.
Parking: General parking at ESPN Wide World of Sports is complimentary, however valet parking will be available for $20. I normally skip the valet parking, but I strongly encourage you to think about this option as parking can sometimes be hectic since ESPN WWoS stays busy!!!
I hope that you will travel out to ESPN Wide World of Sports to catch an Atlant Braves Spring Training game!!! I know that I will be back to take Zoe to her first Atlanta Braves Spring Training game!!!