IT’S SPRING TRAINING SEASON Your guide to Major League Baseball’s Grapefruit League in Florida

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Few things are as quintessentially American as baseball. And while most Northerners are still enduring snowstorms and icy road conditions, Floridians are catching a relaxing game or two at one of Major League Baseball’s thirteen Spring Training facilities peppered throughout the state. At the beginning of March, professional baseball teams from around the nation can be watched up close in personal on both coasts and in the middle of the Sunshine State as the MLB’s Grapefruit League gets under way. Whether you choose to visit your favorite team from childhood, or the team that just happens to play in your city, Spring Training is a great time for all. One of the best parts of attending a pre-season game is your proximity to the players, thanks to most Spring Training stadiums’ small size. Most are merely a quarter the size of typical MLB parks, and with only one level of seating the Grapefruit League stadiums provide an intimate experience for every fan. Much like the Major League stadiums, Spring Training facilities work hard to stand out from the crowd, so here are a few of our must-sees this season. Play ball!

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The old meets the new

JetBlue Stadium, Fort Myers

Boston Red Sox

With a white, wavy roof covering the seating along the first and third base lines, the exterior of JetBlue Stadium appears strikingly modern as you approach the gates. While the outer architecture screams “shiny and new,” fans may be slightly shocked to see what’s inside: a playing field that’s a near exact replica of good old Fenway park, from the outfield down to the dugout design. This bold union of stadium design spanning the decades may just inspire countless fathers and grandfathers to wax poetic to their younger generations about the classic Fenway games of yesteryear, all while making new Boston Red Sox memories in the seats of JetBlue Stadium. Serving the same food they do at Fenway, attendees can look forward to a good meal and that classic Boston fanfare – the 10,000 seats are usually full of those die-hard Red Sox fans Boston is known for.

Complete JetBlue Stadium schedule and ticket prices are now available online at Boston.RedSox.mlb.com/.

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The national fan favorite

Charlotte Sports Park, Port Charlotte

Tampa Bay Rays

Home to the Tampa Bay Rays each Spring, Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte has routinely received top honors in the annual 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards column featured inUSA Today. A nation of baseball fans agree – after a $27 million renovation in 2009, Port Charlotte’s new and improved stadium offers more perks than any other, including a baseball boardwalk lining the outfield, a brand-new luxury suite hotel, a tiki bar, and even a play area for the kids. Only an hour and a half south of Tropicana Field (the Rays’ regular season stadium in Tampa), Charlotte Sports Park gets extra points from hometown fans for its geographical convenience, while out-of-towners may enjoy the stadium’s close proximity to Charlotte Harbor and the Broad Peace River, offering a multitude of water sports to enjoy before or after gameday.

To purchase tickets and view a complete Charlotte Sports Park Spring Training schedule, visit RaysBaseball.com

The MLB teams you’ll see in Florida’s Grapefruit League

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The MLB teams you’ll see in Florida’s Grapefruit League

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The field that raises the bar

Bright House Field, Clearwater

Philadelphia Phillies

Bright House Field raised the bar for ballpark standards in the Grapefruit League; most notably, with a concourse that completely wraps around the stadium and is open to the playing field. Make a few new friends at the popular Frenchy’s Tiki Pavilion – complete with a full service bar – or check out some of the concession stands to enjoy an homage to the Phillies hometown, classic Philly cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. With a beautiful field and an attractive Spanish Mediterranean exterior, this stadium really has it all. View a complete schedule and buy tickets at Phillies.com.

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