OT: Visiting Tigers Spring Training

Submitted by Unicycle Firefly on February 19th, 2019 at 12:39 PM

As we wait with bated breath to see if Pep Hamilton will land an XFL coaching gig, I thought I would create some warm-weather vibes by asking a quick baseball question.

I'm considering heading down to Florida for a few days next month to check out Tigers spring training, and I was wondering if anyone has made the trip and had any advice on must-see things with the Tigers' practices/games, or anything in the Lakeland area.  Thanks!

Comments

Jibbroni

February 19th, 2019 at 12:51 PM ^

Did a circuitous tour of southern Florida a couple of years ago.  Saw the team play at 3 different parks.  It was fun.  Gives you a sense of how much of a whirlwind baseball season can be.  The new venues each have their own nuances too.

outofbounds

February 19th, 2019 at 12:53 PM ^

Is your TripAdvisor.com broken or something?

Seriously though enjoy the weather and up close interaction.

Catch a game in Sarasota, Bradenton or Fort Myers and get some beach time. Beautiful white sandy beaches along gulf coast. 

UMFanatic96

February 19th, 2019 at 12:57 PM ^

Yeah I would recommend to try and catch them away from Lakeland. It's a nice area, but little to do around it. Try to catch a game in a city closer to other things. As they always are, the Chic-Fil-A near the Lakeland Stadium was very busy

CJRockford

February 19th, 2019 at 1:13 PM ^

I lived in Florida for 30 years before moving back to Michigan.  Lakeland pretty much sucks.  You'll go to the games and then leave.  I lived, and grew up in, Dunedin (which is just north of Clearwater Beach) on the Gulf of Mexico.  Dunedin is where the Blue Jays have Spring Training.  The Gulf Coast is super nice, so if I were you I'd stay somewhere no further east than Tampa.  That way you're equal distance between Lakeland and the Clearwater/Treasure Island/Maderia beach areas.

My favorite place at Tigers games are the lawn seats, you can stretch out plus a good chance to get a home run ball.  It's going to be hot, so prepare accordingly.  Another fun idea is travel with the Tigers for a couple games.  That way you can see them in places like Dunedin, Clearwater, Sarasota, etc.  I know a lot about the area, please feel free to reach out directly if you have any questions

raleighwood

February 19th, 2019 at 1:46 PM ^

I live in Florida (Jacksonville) but I'm going to see the Tigers play in Tampa (Yankees) and Lakeland (against the Braves) next month.  As others have said, there's not much going on in Lakeland but the game day environment is pretty good (they sell Coney dogs inside the stadium). 

The tickets might be pricier than you'd think.  I paid $35 for Lakeland and $65 for Tampa.  If you have more than a couple of people going, I'd advise getting tickets in advance.  I haven't seen a very good scalping scene outside of the stadium. 

Take your camera (everyone does these days).  I saw Willie Horton and Jim Leyland in Lakeland last year.  Also saw Alan Trammell a few years ago.  Enjoy!

markinmsp

February 19th, 2019 at 2:48 PM ^

 I'll also be @ those games (along with Phillies and Yankees @ Lakeland).

 If you see anyone with a Maize and Blue "Gehen Blau!" t-shirt, say Hi.  :)

 

 There used to be a fun bar/restaurant outside Tampa with good food and live music called "Skipper's Smokehouse". I'll probably check that out Friday after the Yankees game in Tampa.

 

LSAClassOf2000

February 19th, 2019 at 2:04 PM ^

I've made the trip to Tigers Spring Training a few times in my life, and the best thing about Lakeland, Florida is that about 40 miles from Tampa and not too far from other more desirable locations on the Gulf Coast.

yossarians tree

February 19th, 2019 at 2:13 PM ^

I've been to one spring training game in my life and it was a worthwhile experience just to see it. That said the games are very laid back and most of the stars that do play are out by the fifth inning. There is a long parade of starters walking out to the clubhouse and guys you've never heard of playing the rest of the game. If you like sunshine and baseball in general it is okay but I can't for the life of me understand people who go down for a whole week of spring training games.

I concur about the beaches to the west of Lakeland, especially Siesta Key beaches south of Sarasota. Absolutely beautiful sugar sand beaches and warm Gulf waters. They will likely be crowded which can be good and bad because many of those will be bikini-clad girls on spring break if that is your kind of thing!

lilpenny1316

February 19th, 2019 at 2:28 PM ^

If you have kids, I'd recommend Tigers @ Braves at the Disney complex.  You can go to one of the theme parks in the AM, catch a game in the afternoon, and head back to the parks afterwards.  

6th Blagdon

February 19th, 2019 at 3:30 PM ^

Done the trip several times and always enjoy it.  I'd suggest trying a long weekend where you can catch the Tigers twice at Joker Marchant and then take a day and catch a game at another local park.  Have done the Jays in Dunedin, Yankees at Tampa, Pirates in Bradenton, and Braves at Disney.  All very different feels.  Yankees place is like a mini Yankee stadium, nice park but you're dealing with tons of Yankee fans so keep that in mind.  Braves are a Disney production, and the Jays and Pirates are more basic little municipal stadiums.  

If you do the Tiger games spring for the BP ticket add on.  Gets you in the park an hour or two earlier than the general public.  Very relaxed atmosphere and fairly easy to snag a ball in bp.

Lakeland itself is pretty lacking in stuff to do like everyone else has mentioned.  Couple decent restaurants in the downtown area.  Recommend Harry's.

Moleskyn

February 19th, 2019 at 4:05 PM ^

I would highly recommend going. I haven't been able to make it back down since my son was born 3 years ago, but here are some tips based on my experiences:

  • Like others have said, try to arrange your timing to be able to see other games in the area. The three times I went, we arranged it to see a couple Tigers home games, as well as a couple away games. Off the top of my head, I remember the Jays, Yankees, Braves, Phillies, Pirates, and Mets all having stadiums not far from Lakeland. Dunedin (where the Jays play) is awful, would not recommend going there.
  • Not sure if they still do this, but as of about 3-4 years ago, you could pay an extra $5 (on top of your game ticket) to get in early to watch the Tigers take BP. Otherwise, the earliest you can enter is during the away team's BP (after the Tigers have already had their turn). This was fantastic, and our best way of getting home runs, etc. All told, I think we ended up walking away with 5 or 6 balls from one trip. Memorable ones were a a ground-rule double I caught hit by Miggy. My dad caught a HR hit by VMart. The pitchers were also doing their conditioning drills during this time, and you could interact with them along the left field wall as they caught their breath in between sprints.
  • During games, once they start emptying the benches around the 5th inning, take a walk behind the left field berm to the practice fields. Never know what you might see there. The last year I was there, Verlander was back there throwing live BP as he was rehabbing from an injury. I was literally 10 feet away from JV (behind a chain-link fence) watching him throw. He was super competitive even in that setting, cussing at guys (in a playful/competitive way) if they got a hit off of him.
  • Don't worry about splurging on good tix (unless you have the expendable income to do so). Their stadium is nice and there really isn't a bad seat. It's a minor-league stadium, so you will have good proximity to the field no matter where you are. And the left field berm is open seating, so you can always hang out there if you want.

Overall, I can't recommend it enough. I can't wait to take my sons there once they are a little older.

bluestaffah

February 19th, 2019 at 8:18 PM ^

Spring baseball is about the atmosphere and the tradition of a day game. The way the weather has been recently ( I live in Sarasota  ) the Grapefruit League experience will be top notch. Lakeland is not a great winter destination.  See the Tigers outside of their home park. Sarasota, Bradenton, Fort Myers, Port Charlotte,  Clearwater all have good parks with way more to do than in Lakeland. Port Charlotte may be a stretch there but the Ray's are something to watch.

As noted in another post, Venice, between Sarasota and Port Charlotte will have the Braves full time starting next spring. 

Have fun and Go Blue!

Torchlakeblue

February 19th, 2019 at 9:59 PM ^

This will be my first time visiting Arizona for spring training. Booked an air bnb downtown Scottsdale. Old town looks pretty cool. Anyone have any places to check out!?

Flying Dutchman

February 19th, 2019 at 11:01 PM ^

We went last year with the kids.  It was a decent experience.  Nice little park with decent beer selection.  We happened to pick a day that was hot as shit, but that wasn’t the Tigers fault.  

M and M Boys

February 20th, 2019 at 3:01 PM ^

Go to the Kennedy Space Center.....lots of launches these days and if you have a family they will remember the great visit.

Remember the Vets don't play much early...............