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Friday, March 3, 2006
Updated: March 10, 2:15 PM ET
Grapefruit League Overview

By Bill Evans
Special to ESPN SportsTravel

Evidence points to the first spring training taking place as early as 1870. The institution grew as barnstorming became a integral element of marketing the game. Gather. Spend a few days getting in shape. Begin the long train ride home, stopping each day long enough to play a local semi-pro team.

By the turn of the century, the venerable "Grapefruit League" was born, allowing teams to play exhibition games against one another to prepare for the rigorous season. By the mid '20s, nearly every major league team made its spring home in Florida.

The tradition of moving to Florida upon maturation is one still carried on by many senior citizens to this day. Undoubtedly, you will find many of them, and their young progeny, soaking up the sun at one of 17 facilities that currently host Grapefruit League action (the Cardinals and Marlins share a facility).

Among the 18 teams training in Florida is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have eschewed geography to continue their association with Vero Beach. "Dodgertown" will host its 58th consecutive spring training in 2006.

See below for information on each of the Grapefruit facilities. Action began on Feb. 28 and concludes on April 1.

• Spring training schedule
• Grapefruit League sample itineraries: four games in four days

Western Florida
Boston Red SoxFort Myers
Cincinnati RedsSarasota
Minnesota TwinsFort Myers
New York YankeesTampa
Philadelphia PhilliesClearwater
Pittsburgh Pirates Bradenton
Tampa Bay Devil RaysSt. Petersburg
Toronto Blue JaysDunedin
Central Florida
Atlanta BravesDisney
Cleveland IndiansWinter Haven
Detroit TigersLakeland
Houston AstrosKissimmee
Eastern Florida
Baltimore OriolesFort Lauderdale
Florida MarlinsJupiter
Los Angeles DodgersVero Beach
New York MetsPort St. Lucie
St. Louis CardinalsJupiter
Washington NationalsViera

Atlanta Braves
Lake Buena Vista (since 1997)

Home Field
The Ballpark (formerly Cracker Jack Park) (9,500)
700 S. Victory Lane
Lake Buena Vista, FL 34747

Directions (from Orlando)
Take Interstate 4 West to Hwy. 192.
Follow signs toward Disney World.
Stadium is on the campus of Disney's Wide World of Sports.

Price range: $13.50-22
Online or 407-839-3900

Did You Know?
The Braves move to the Disney campus in 1997 ended a 35-year association with West Palm Beach.

Baltimore Orioles
Fort Lauderdale (since 1996)

Home Field
Fort Lauderdale Stadium (8,340)
1301 NW 55th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309

Directions (from I-95)
Take Exit 32 (Commercial Boulevard).
Travel west, mile to N.W. 12th Avenue, also known as Oriole Boulevard.
Turn right. Fort Lauderdale Stadium is the second stadium on your left-hand side.

Price range: $4-18
Online or 954-523-3309

Did You Know?
Baltimore's spring home, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, was the home of the Yankees from 1962-1995.

Boston Red Sox
Fort Myers (since 1993)

Home Field
City of Palms Park (7,290)
2201 Edison Ave.
Fort Myers, FL 33901

Directions (from the south)
Take I-75 North to Colonial Boulevard (Exit 22).
Travel west on Colonial for four miles.
Travel north on U.S. 41 for 2.4 miles.
Make third right onto Edison Avenue.

Price range: $10-44
Online or 617-482-4SOX

Did You Know?
Boston's arrival in Fort Myers in 1993 marked a seismic shift in spring locales, uprooting the Sox from Winter Haven, where they were a spring fixture from 1966-92.

Cincinnati Reds
Sarasota (since 1998)

Home Field
Ed Smith Stadium (7,500)
2700 12th Street
Sarasota, FL 34237

Directions (from Tampa)
Go south on I-75 to University Parkway.
Go west on University to Tuttle.
Turn left and proceed south on Tuttle.
Stadium is at intersection of 12th and Tuttle.

Price range: $5-14
Online or 877-647-REDS

Did You Know?
With the exception of three WWII seasons (1943-45), the Reds have spent every spring in Florida since 1923.

Cleveland Indians
Winter Haven (since 1993)

Home Field
Chain of Lakes Park (7,000)
500 Cletus Allen Drive
Winter Haven, FL 33880

Directions (from Orlando)
Take I-4 West to Exit 55 (U.S. 27).
Take U.S. 27 South for 22 miles.
Turn right onto S.R. 540. Follow 540 for 8 miles.
Park is on the left behind Orange Dome.

Price range: $4-20
Online or 866-48-TRIBE

Did You Know?
After residing in Tucson, Ariz. from 1947-92, the Indians intended on moving to Homestead, Fla., for the 1993 season. The devastation of Hurricane Andrew led the club to Winter Haven, which had been vacated by the Red Sox the previous season.

Detroit Tigers
Lakeland (since 1934)

Home Field
Joker Marchant Stadium (8,000)
2301 Lake Hills Blvd.
Lakeland, FL 33804

Directions (from I-4)
Take Exit 33 off I-4 onto Hwy. 33 South.
Tiger Town and the ballpark are approximately 2 miles on the left.

Price range: $9-18
Online or 407-839-3900

Did You Know?
The Tigers have been in Lakeland since 1934, making "Tiger Town" one of the most historic spring training venues. Joker Marchant Stadium, the team's home since 1966, is built on the site of a World War II flight school.

Florida Marlins
Jupiter (since 2003)

Home Field
Roger Dean Stadium (7,000)
4751 Main Street
Jupiter, FL 33458

Directions (from I-95)
Exit at Donald Ross Road (Exit 83) and travel east one mile to Central Boulevard.
At the light, make a left and follow Central to Frederick Small.
Make a left onto Frederick Small and the stadium will be on your left.

Price range: $8-23
Online or 561-775-1818

Did You Know?
The Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals are co-inhabitants of Roger Dean Stadium, named for a West Palm car dealer. The Marlins have had three spring training homes during their brief existence.

Houston Astros
Kissimmee (since 1985)

Home Field
Osceola County Stadium (5,225)
1000 Bill Beck Blvd.
Kissimmee, FL 34744

Directions (from Orlando)
Take turnpike south to Exit 244, turn right on U.S. 192.
Drive 1 mile to Bill Beck Blvd., turn right.
Take Bill Beck Blvd. for 7/10 mile, turn left into parking lot.

Price range: $15-18
Online or 407-839-3900

Did You Know?
For 20 years prior to their move to Kissimmee, the Astros trained in Cocoa Beach. Osceola County Stadium, the smallest in the Grapefruit League, underwent an $18 million renovation prior to the 2003 season.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Vero Beach (since 1949)

Home Field
Holman Stadium (6,474)
4001 26th Street
Vero Beach, FL 32961

Directions (from I-95)
Take the Vero Beach exit (147).
Head east on Route 60 to 43rd Avenue; turn left.
Continue to 26th Street.
Dodgertown and the stadium will be on your right.

Price range: $8-18
Online or 866-DODGERS

Did You Know?
Historic "Dodgertown," privately owned by the team, includes 27 holes of golf, a residential development and 70 acres of citrus groves. Modest Holman Stadium has no dugouts.

Minnesota Twins
Fort Myers (since 1991)

Home Field
Hammond Stadium (7,500)
14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway
Fort Myers, FL 33912

Directions (from I-75)
Take Exit 131 (Daniels Road).
Travel west two miles to Six Mile Cypress Parkway.
Travel south for 1/2 mile; complex is on the right.

Price range: $18-20
Online or 800-33-TWINS

Did You Know?
Except for the WWII years (1943-45), the Twins made Orlando their spring home from 1936-1990. Fort Myers was a good-luck charm. The Twins won the World Series following their first spring training in their current home.

New York Mets
Port St. Lucie (since 1988)

Home Field
Tradition Field (7,800)
525 NW Peacock Blvd.
Port St. Lucie, FL 34986

Directions (from I-95)
Take Exit 121 (Old 63-C)/St. Lucie West Blvd.
Go east and make a left (north) on Peacock Blvd.
Stadium is one mile ahead on right.

Price range: $6-25
Online or 772-871-2115

Did You Know?
To keep bats -- at least the ones that fly -- from inhabiting Tradition Field, the stadium was "bat-proofed" and The St. Lucie Bat House was erected nearby to house thousands of displaced animals.

New York Yankees
Tampa (since 1996)

Home Field
Legends Field (10,200)
1 Steinbrenner Drive
Tampa, FL 33614

Directions (from Tampa airport)
Proceed out the Airport exit to Spruce Street.
Go approximately 2 miles, make a left on North Dale Mabry (U.S. 92)
After about a mile, Legends Field will be on your left.

Price range: $15-21
Online or 813-879-2244

Did You Know?
Legends Field carries the same outfield dimensions at Yankee Stadium and has a monument park behind the outfield wall.

Philadelphia Phillies
Clearwater (since 1948)

Home Field
Bright House Networks Field (7,000)
601 Old Coachman Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

Directions (from Tampa)
Take Highway 60 (Courtney Campbell Causeway) West.
Cross over Highway 19 and go to the next stoplight (Old Coachman Road).
Turn right (North) at Old Coachman Road.
Go North through the Drew Street intersection.
Stadium will be on the right.

Price range: $9-25
Online or 727-467-4457

Did You Know?
A tiki bar and a Philly cheesesteak concession are among the amenities at Bright House Network Field.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Bradenton (since 1969)

Home Field
McKechnie Field (6,602)
1611 9th Street West
Bradenton, FL 34205

Directions (from St. Petersburg)
Go over Skyway Bridge to Exit 5 (U.S. 19 South).
Continue on 41 South (Bradenton/Sarasota).
Make a right turn onto 17th Avenue West and continue to McKechnie Field.

Price range: $6-11
Online or 800-955-5566

Did You Know?
Unlike most spring venues, McKechnie Field is a stand-alone facility. The team trains at Pirate City, 5 miles away.

St. Louis Cardinals
Jupiter (since 1998)

Home Field
Roger Dean Stadium (7,000)
4751 Main Street
Jupiter, FL 33458

Directions (from I-95)
Exit at Donald Ross Road (Exit 83) and travel east one mile to Central Boulevard.
At the light, make a left and follow Central to Frederick Small.
Make a left onto Frederick Small and the stadium will be on your left.

Price range: $7-23
Online or 561-966-3309

Did You Know?
The Cardinals first came to Florida in 1914. In 1938, they began a 60-year association with St. Petersburg that ended with the construction of Roger Dean Stadium in 1998.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays
St. Petersburg (since 1998)

Home Field
Progress Energy Park (6,759)
1800 2nd Avenue SE
St. Petersburg, FL 33710

Directions (from I-275)
From either direction, take the exit to downtown St. Petersburg.
Follow the signs to Al Lang Field.

Price range: $7-19
Online or 727-898-RAYS

Did You Know?
Historic Al Lang Field has housed the Philadelphia Nationals, the Boston Braves, the New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals. When Tampa arrived, they became the first team since 1919 to train in their home city.

Toronto Blue Jays
Dunedin (since 1977)

Home Field
Knology Park (6,106)
311 Douglas Avenue at Beltress St.
Dunedin, FL 34698

Directions (from Tampa)
Take State Road 60 across Tampa Bay.
Turn right on McMullen Booth Road.
Turn left on Sunset Point Road and cross U.S. 19.
Turn right on Douglas Avenue. Parking is at the second stoplight.

Price range: $13-24
Online or 727-733-0429

Did You Know?
Dunedin has been the Blue Jays home for the entirety of the team's existence. In homage to their home city, the Blue Jays play both national anthems before each game, and offer Labatt Blue.

Washington Nationals
Viera (since 2003)

Home Field
Space Coast Stadium (8,100)
5800 Stadium Parkway
Melbourne, FL 32940

Directions (from Daytona Beach)
Exit I-95 at Exit 195 (cloverleaf).
Turn left (west) on Stadium Parkway.
Space Coast Stadium is two miles ahead on the right.

Price range: $7-20
Online or 888-632-NATS

Did You Know?
Space Coast Stadium was built for the Marlins in 1994, but the Marlins and Expos switched venues in 2003. When Jeffrey Loria sold the Expos and bought the Marlins, he retained the spring rights to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.

Bill Evans is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee.