Spring Training On A College Budget

For those looking to see their favorite MLB teams match up preseason, there is a way to make a sunny trip to any Spring Training facility affordable.

By Kenzie Beach
News Producer

MESA, ARIZONA — With spring training held in both Florida and Arizona for major league baseball, there are many major universities in surrounding areas.

This time of year has great weather for both Arizona and Florida, and who doesn’t want to watch a ball game on a nice sunny day. This is not only an opportunity for new players to be given a shot on the roster but an environment that promotes fan and player interaction. There is a lot less pressure on big-league guys, so you often get to see more of a fun side among your favorite players.

The Cactus League in Arizona is home to the Diamondbacks, Cubs, White Sox, Reds, Indians, Rockies, Royals, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers, A’s, Padres, Giants, Mariners, and Rangers. With Pheonix being central to all of these teams, Arizona State University is only a 20-minute drive from most of these parks.

The Grapefruit League, in Florida, is home to the Braves, Orioles, Red Sox, Tigers, Astros, Marlins, Twins, Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals, Rays, Jays, and Nationals. Universities like the University of Florida or FSU are short drives from most of these parks. Even for SEC schools such as Alabama, the drive is doable. Coming from Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, or the Carolinas? From any of these states, the drive can be made to a Grapefruit League facility.

Here are some simple ways to make your next trip to Spring Training affordable on a college budget.

  1. Plan in advance

There are so many advantages to planning ahead. Not only do surrounding hotels and retails get completely booked, but some of the best deals are months in advance. Spring Training becomes a ritual in some families, as they plan a yearly trip down to get them excited for the season coming quickly while getting the chance to watch their favorite players.

Barb Witiker, a Chicago born and raised Cubs fanatic, said, “right when the new year rolls around the boys ask me how much longer till we head out to Arizona… they look forward to it.”

Witiker takes her two grandsons to Arizona to watch their Cubbies every year for their Spring Break. She also mentioned that once she returns home from their trip she goes ahead and books it for the following year.

People like Witiker are why you should be booking in advance. If you wait too long, it gives companies the opportunity to jack up prices due to there being limited availability.

2. Gather a group of your friends

There are many reasons you should grab a group of friends to join you on your trip. Part of your college experience is making memories, so what better way than a fun trip? The better half: with more people, the cost decreases. You are bringing the cost of gas down, the price of the place you stay, the cost of groceries, etc. All of these things are now being divided by five people, opposed to you footing the bill.

3. Airbnb

As opposed to taking the route of staying in a hotel, check out websites like https://www.airbnb.com. This time of year hotels are at their peak season, especially major hotels that surround ballparks. They know you want to be near your favorite team and people are willing to pay for the higher costs, so prices are increased.

By staying at an Airbnb you get so much more out of your spending. If you follow my first tip and travel with a group of five people, you must follow the 2nd tip. If not you will be stuck getting two hotel rooms.

Airbnb can hold way more people, and you also have access to so many more amenities, including a kitchen. This is a great way to save money. After the drive down with your friends, hit up the local grocery store and plan out some meals that you can make at your place. Divide up the grocery total between the five of you and you will all be saving money eating in for the week instead of throwing your money away eating out.

It is important to note that you must book your Airbnb in advance as well. This is the route most players take, as they do not want to be living in a hotel for their entire stay.

Airbnb Superhost, Christina owns many Airbnb properties in the Arizona area. She said she gives first priorities to players who booked with her last year before opening it up to the public. She enjoys building a relationship with them.