Ranking MLB Spring Training Sites
There is something magical about Major League Baseball spring training. Call it a mix of hope and longing for days gone by that happens every February when all 30 teams report to their respective facilities across the Grapefruit League in Florida and the Cactus League in Arizona.
Dating back over 110 years, teams began heading to the warmer climates of Florida and then Arizona to go through their training paces to get ready for the haul of 162 regular-season games. And fans have followed them in droves. For some, it's a yearly ritual to follow the teams. For others, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see the very best baseball players in the world.
These are the best MLB spring training sites based on a mix of location, quality of baseball and overall experience.
19. Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona (Cactus League)
Teams: Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers
Stadium: Camelback Ranch Glendale (13,000)
Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Stadium: American Family Fields of Phoenix (10,000)
Bottom line: It's always strange to us when there are actual cities that are home to an MLB team, like Phoenix, that are also home to MLB spring training sites for other teams.
We're not totally sure what the draw of going on a spring training trip to Phoenix is if you're a fan of either of the teams that are playing there — the Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Because if you're going to break off that money to see either team, you might as well go see them in their actual cities.
It's not like you're going to get some one-of-a-kind spring training experience in one of the largest cities in the U.S. We'd rather try and catch a Suns game, to be honest.
18. Lakeland, Florida (Grapefruit League)
Team: Detroit Tigers
Stadium: Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium (8,000)
Bottom line: We're going to double down on why Lakeland is a bad spot to go visit for spring training. First, you're pretty much landlocked. Second, you're going to see some downright bad baseball with the Detroit Tigers, who finished 30 games under .500 in 2022 and are +12500 longshots to win the World Series in 2023.
One weird thing about Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium is that the Publix chain of grocery stores, which is headquartered in Lakeland, bought the naming rights to the stadium in 2017. Now, the stadium is painted in the same muted, off-yellow color as the Publix grocery stores that are on seemingly every block in Florida.
You know what's not awesome? Going to a baseball stadium that gives off the ambience of a grocery store. Hard pass.
17. Peoria, Arizona (Cactus League)
Teams: San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners
Stadium: Peoria Sports Complex (12,339)
Bottom line: Both the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners call the Peoria Sports Complex home for spring training, and both get major bonus points for being teams on the rise and featuring some of the brightest young stars in the majors.
Just like another spring training location in the Cactus League in Mesa, Peoria bleeds into Phoenix to the point of confusion for visitors to the area. In those three locations alone — Phoenix, Peoria and Mesa — there are seven different MLB teams hosting their spring training.
Doesn't make for a very unique experience, does it?
16. Mesa, Arizona (Cactus League)
Team: Chicago Cubs
Stadium: Sloan Park (15,000)
Team: Oakland Athletics
Stadium: Hohokam Stadium (10,500)
Bottom line: You will get 2-for-1 as far as MLB teams in Mesa with the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland Athletics. The A's occupy Hohokam Stadium, which was the old spring training ballpark of the Cubs. Not that you'll want to go there.
The real draw in Mesa is the Cubs and gorgeous Sloan Park, which opened in 2014 and is the largest spring training ballpark in MLB at 15,000 capacity seating. Sloan Park — it was Cubs Park until the naming rights were sold — does a pretty decent job of giving fans the mini-Wrigley Field experience.
The one drawback of coming to Mesa is that it can get pretty confusing once you're in the urban sprawl of Phoenix. It's not distinguishable like Tempe, which is home to Arizona State, and can be kind of overwhelming to navigate.
But hey, go Cubbies amirite?
15. Port Charlotte, Florida (Grapefruit League)
Team: Tampa Bay Rays
Stadium: Charlotte Spears Park (7,670)
Bottom line: Things move a little slower in Port Charlotte, which is home to one of the largest retirement communities in the U.S. But it is still unincorporated despite having a population of over 60,000. And over half of those people are 60 years old or older.
That's not a knock on senior communities. It could be a pretty cool experience. There's just not much of a fanbase for the Tampa Bay Rays outside of Tampa, where you can make an argument there's more New York Yankees fans than fans of the actual MLB franchise located in the city.
The Rays are the second franchise to call Port Charlotte home for spring training. The Texas Rangers were there from 1998 to 2022 before hopping over to the Cactus League, and the Rays have been there since 2009.
14. Clearwater, Florida (Grapefruit League)
Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Stadium: BayCare Ballpark (8,500)
Bottom line: The Philadelphia Phillies have stayed loyal to Clearwater as their spring training destination since the late 1940s. BayCare Ballpark, opened in 2004, is their third stadium in Clearwater since they first started playing there.
Clearwater is a cool spot to watch spring training because you are just a hop away from Clearwater Beach but also you're not located in the heart of the whole Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater metroplex. So you can avoid the bustle if you're so inclined.
No need to be coy about what the big draw is here. There's the chance you might get to see Philadelphia Phillies superstar and future Hall of Famer Bryce Harper.
13. Sarasota, Florida (Grapefruit League)
Team: Baltimore Orioles
Stadium: Ed Smith Stadium (8,500)
Bottom line: The Baltimore Orioles returned to Sarasota in 2010 after 20 years of spring training in Fort Lauderdale and St. Petersburg, but it's done little to jump-start a franchise that hasn't won in the postseason since 1983.
Sarasota lured the Orioles back to town with approximately $30 million in renovations to Ed Smith Stadium that have made it look pretty sharp. The entrance looks pretty much what we want our spring training stadiums to look like, and there are some pretty exquisite touches. For example, the three air-conditioned suites in the stadium are suites 66, 70 and 83, which correspond with the Orioles' three World Series championships, and the seats are all refurbished seats from Camden Yards in Baltimore.
While there is plenty to do in Sarasota, the thing about coming to watch spring training here that's so appealing right now is the product on the field seems to be getting exponentially better thanks in large part to featuring one of MLB's best young stars on the roster in 24-year-old catcher Adley Rutschman.
12. Tampa, Florida (Grapefruit League)
Team: New York Yankees
Stadium: George M. Steinbrenner Field (11,026)
Bottom line: The history of spring training in Florida begins in Tampa, where the Chicago Cubs became the first team to move spring training to the state in 1913.
Six different MLB teams called Tampa home for spring training through the late 1950s. Then the New York Yankees brought it back in the mid-1990s and have been here ever since. One cool thing about George M. Steinbrenner Field — formerly known as Legends Field — is the 11,000-seat ballpark was built to mimic the dimensions of Yankee Stadium.
So you're getting the full experience when you come here. Staying in Tampa is going to cost you an arm and a leg. But it's the Yankees so what did you expect?
11. Surprise, Arizona (Cactus League)
Teams: Kansas City Royals, Texas Rangers
Stadium: Surprise Stadium (10,500)
Bottom line: Surprise Stadium celebrated its 20th year as home to a pair of American League teams in 2022 — the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers — and is part of the bigger Surprise Recreation Complex.
One of the things that might be appealing to seeing spring training games in Surprise is the recreation complex itself, which also includes one of the better tennis and pickleball facilities in the U.S. with the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex.
Hey, some people like to work out on vacation. This could be a pretty cool trip if you're into tennis or pickleball or both. But hopefully, it's just tennis as pickleball enthusiasts have become pretty insufferable in the past few years.
10. Port St. Lucie, Florida (Grapefruit League)
Team: New York Mets
Stadium: Clover Park (7,160)
Bottom line: Port St. Lucie's Clover Park is one of the more basic spring training sites — almost minimalist in its structure and framework. And that's why it's amazing. If you're a New York Mets fan, you'll feel like you've stepped into a little, special part of the team's universe once you roll into this stadium.
Opened in 1988 at a cost of $11 million, which is just $25 million in today's money and a pittance compared to other spring training sites, you are going to get an added experience here with the addition of new concession stands and new outfield bleachers for seating in 2020.
Another thing about Port St. Lucie for visiting fans from the East Coast is that it's a golfer's paradise and home to the PGA Village golf complex. So dust that frost off the clubs sitting in your garage before you head south. And expect some amazing weather with average temperatures in late February and through the middle of March usually in the low-to-mid 80s.
9. West Palm Beach, Florida (Grapefruit League)
Teams: Houston Astros, Washington Nationals
Stadium: FitTeam Ballpark of the Palm Beaches (7,858)
Bottom line: West Palm Beach — Palm Beach — is dope. You get to be close to Miami without actually being in Miami, and the ballpark that houses the defending world champion Houston Astros and Washington Nationals is only six years old. Brand-new by any definition of an arena in any sport.
Call me a child all you want, but I'm going to make sure I hit the Astros' spring training games for the baseball aspect of things. I'm also going to make sure I hit the Nats' games to catch the spring training version of the famous Presidents Race they run at games in Washington, D.C. with "retired" presidents Calvin "Cal" Coolidge, Herbert "Herbie" Hoover and William Howard "Bill" Taft.
8. Bradenton, Florida (Grapefruit League)
Team: Pittsburgh Pirates
Stadium: LECOM Park (8,500)
Bottom line: The Pittsburgh Pirates are essentially the plague when it comes to baseball fandom. They're on track to lose over 100 games in a row for the third consecutive season in 2023, haven't made the playoffs since 2015 and haven't won a postseason series since they last won the World Series in 1979.
But Bradenton is one of the more historic MLB spring training sites, with five other teams there dating back to 1923, and the city has been home to the Pirates since the late 1960s. While the baseball is bad, the beaches sure aren't, and we're going to give some preference to the spring training towns located on the Gulf of Mexico side. Because of that beautiful, white sand.
And don't forget to hit the bars and pubs on 12th Street. What an experience.
7. Goodyear, Arizona (Cactus League)
Teams: Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Guardians
Stadium: Goodyear Ballpark (10,311)
Bottom line: The Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Guardians packed up and left the Grapefruit League in Florida to combine forces at Goodyear Ballpark, which was part of a $108 million baseball complex opened for the two franchises in 2009.
The Guardians were in the Cactus League and located in Tucson before leaving for a 15-year stint in Florida. It's easy to give Goodyear extra points as a spring training location because so much of the city's identity is wrapped up in being the home to MLB teams for spring training.
That's something that definitely adds to the fan experience.
6. Jupiter, Florida (Grapefruit League)
Teams: Miami Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals
Stadium: Roger Dean Stadium (6,871)
Bottom line: Much like Fort Myers with the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins, Jupiter features one team with some serious panache (the St. Louis Cardinals) and one team most MLB fans could care less about (the Miami Marlins).
While they share a stadium, you can count on the Cardinals being the major draw to Jupiter and Roger Dean Stadium. For good reason. They're the better franchise, traditionally and currently.
There's nothing really special about Roger Dean Stadium, but there is something special about Jupiter, which features some of the best beaches in the U.S. So it's a whole vibe.
5. Fort Myers, Florida (Grapefruit League)
Team: Boston Red Sox
Stadium: JetBlue Park at Fenway South (10,823)
Team: Minnesota Twins
Stadium: Hammond Stadium (9,300)
Bottom line: Fort Myers might have two teams — the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins — but as far as baseball is concerned, the Twins might as well not exist. Fans coming to Fort Myers for spring training are going to lean heavily toward seeing the Red Sox, one of the most valuable and popular teams in all of pro sports.
JetBluePark at Fenway South, replete with its own miniature Green Monster, is going to be a memorable experience for any baseball fan. But the bigger problem is with the franchise itself, which traded away perhaps the best player in the majors three years ago — outfielder Mookie Betts.
It's a deal that gets even more objectionable by the year. Who does that?
4. Tempe, Arizona (Cactus League)
Team: Los Angeles Angels
Stadium: Tempe Diablo Stadium (9,558)
Bottom line: It's tough to not have a good time in Tempe, which is home to Arizona State and thought of as one of the better college towns in the whole country.
Tempe's history with MLB spring training dates back to the late 1960s, when Tempe Diablo Stadium first opened in 1969 and was home to the Seattle Pilots, who became the Milwaukee Brewers. Then it was home to the Seattle Mariners from 1977 until 1993, when the Los Angeles Angels became the main tenant.
For such an old stadium, Tempe Diablo Stadium has retained much of its ambience, which is good for the fans. And Tempe is pretty awesome. Don't be scared to catch some MLB spring training during the day, then head over to Mullett Arena and catch an NHL game featuring the Arizona Coyotes.
3. North Port, Florida (Grapefruit League)
Team: Atlanta Braves
Stadium: CoolTodayPark (8,000)
Bottom line: The Atlanta Braves got a major upgrade when they moved spring training from right outside of Orlando to North Port — complete with a $140 million stadium, CoolToday Park, which opened in 2019.
We're going to give some preference in the Grapefruit League to spring training locales located on the Gulf of Mexico side. The Braves get a little bonus because they've been one of the better teams in the majors over the last five years, including a World Series championship in 2021.
If you actually make it to North Port and work up an appetite watching the Braves, you could do a lot worse than making it to Que Rico Colombian restaurant.
2. Scottsdale, Arizona (Cactus League)
Team: San Francisco Giants
Stadium: Scottsdale Stadium (12,000)
Teams: Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs
Stadium: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick (11,000)
Bottom line: Forgive me for my love of Scottsdale, which is unabiding and true and dates back over a decade. This wonderful little hamlet in the desert is great any time of year. But I can't think of a better sports fan experience than hitting some MLB spring training games in February and March, then making a run at the Scottsdale nightlife.
The Giants have called Scottsdale home since 1984, and they are one of three MLB teams to call the Scottsdale area home. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies are located at the extremely postmodern-looking Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, which is adjacent to Scottsdale.
1. Dunedin, Florida (Grapefruit League)
Team: Toronto Blue Jays
Stadium: TD Ballpark (8,500)
Bottom line: The Toronto Blue Jays have had one home for spring training. Since the franchise began play in 1977, they've been in Dunedin.
There's nothing we don't love about TD Ballpark — formerly Dunedin Stadium — because it does what the best spring training sites do for their fans. That is to give them what feels like a miniaturized version of the actual MLB experience. What's interesting about that is that TD Ballpark was actually an MLB ballpark for the Blue Jays for the first 21 games of the 2021 season while the pandemic forced the team out of Canada.
Dunedin is also located smack dab on the Gulf of Mexico and features some of the most amazing beaches in the world. You can't go wrong here as far as a spring training experience.