Spring training 2024 is right around the corner—are you going to be where the action is? You can be! If you love America’s pastime and are looking for related things to do in Longboat Key during your upcoming vacation, you’ll be thrilled to know that not one but two major league teams conduct their MLB spring training in nearby Bradenton and Sarasota.
Both the American League’s Baltimore Orioles and the National League’s Pittsburgh Pirates host exhibition games in this area of the Sunshine State from late February through late March. Tickets typically go on sale in early or mid-January. This is a very budget-friendly and exciting activity that is fun for the entire family.
So, book your vacation rentals in Longboat Key, check the spring training schedule, and get set to head over to the ballpark and take in all the fun at a live MLB exhibition game.
MLB Spring Training
Batter up! Major League Baseball’s spring training schedule begins with a game between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, February 22nd, 2024. More teams swing into action the next day, and on Saturday, February 24th, every team in the league will play.
Exhibition games continue through most of the following month, with spring training ending on March 26th. The MLB regular season begins on Thursday, March 28th. Spring training takes part between teams training in Florida, known as the Grapefruit League, and teams training in Arizona, called the Cactus League.
Spring training allows for rookie competition for roster spots, and veteran players are allowed to prepare for the season. The start of spring training can be traced back to 1888, when the Washington Nationals first held this training in Florida.
Baltimore Orioles Spring Training in Sarasota
The Baltimore Orioles have been conducting their spring training in Sarasota for the past 15 years. They began training in Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota in 2010. Sarasota is about 12 miles southeast of Longboat Key. The stadium underwent a total renovation that was completed in February 2011 to mark the beginning of spring training.
The $31.5 million renovation included the installation of seats taken from Camden Yards, home of the Orioles in Baltimore; a sunshade system resulting in twice the number of seats being shaded than before the renovation; three air-conditioned suites; food and beverage stand on two concourses; a large gift shop; and a café.
One hundred HDTVs throughout the site allow for viewing of the game even when you leave your seat, and a huge 17 ft. x 30 ft. HD LED video board in the stadium’s outfield means you never miss a play. Ed Smith Stadium seats 7,428 visitors. Parking is available on lots at and around the stadium for $12. There are more than 1,800 parking spots available on these lots.
The Orioles’ Grapefruit League games begin at 1:05 p.m. against the Boston Red Sox. The team is also set to play against the Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, and Detroit Tigers. Some dates highlight a special feature; for instance, on March 10th against the Blue Jays and March 17th against the Braves, Kids Run the Bases, and on March 22nd against the Pirates the first 4,000 fans to enter the stadium get a free Orioles baseball cap. There are also a few Seniors Stroll the Bases dates. Single-game tickets can be purchased for between $32 and $48.
The Orioles playing against the Pirates on Wednesday, March 6th, and Friday, March 22nd means you get to see both area teams, as the Pittsburgh Pirates is the other MLB team that holds their spring training games near Longboat Key.
Plan Your Visit
Ready to get your game on? Browse our entire inventory of Longboat Key vacation rentals to find your ideal accommodations!
Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training in Bradenton
LECOM Park in Bradenton, FL, about 15 miles northeast of Longboat Key, is home to spring training games for the Pittsburgh Pirates. LECOM Park was built in 1922, making it the oldest of all MLB spring training stadiums that still holds games today. The park has featured spring training games since 1923 and it became the home for the Pirates’ spring training games in 1969.
The Pirates partnered with Manatee County and the city of Bradenton in 2013 to complete a $10 million renovation of LECOM Park, which included a 19,000 sq. ft. boardwalk around the outfield, new concessions, upgraded reserved seating, and covered bleachers in left field. The site consistently tops the “Best of the Ballparks” list from Ballpark Digest and is considered one of the finest ballparks in the Grapefruit League. The park is on Ninth Street West in downtown Bradenton, not far from such attractions as Village of the Arts and Bishop Museum. The ballpark can seat 8,500 including the covered outfield bleachers.
There are a couple of parking options at LECOM Park. All lots are first-come, first-serve and have limited spaces. The Outfield Parking Lot from 9th Street West is $5/vehicle. A grass parking lot on 6th Street West can also be used. Parking is free for games on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday. Golf carts are available to take visitors right to the main entrance of the park.
You can cheer on the Bucs in their Grapefruit League games starting on Sunday, February 25th against the Orioles. The team will square off against the same teams that the Orioles play in their exhibition games, with the last spring training game held Monday, March 25th against the Blue Jays. The regular season for the Pirates begins at 4:10 p.m. on February 28th against the Marlins in Miami. The Pirates’ home opener is Friday, April 5th at 4:12 p.m. vs. the Orioles.
Where to Stay
There are so many reasons to visit Longboat Key! When searching for Longboat Key condo rentals, look no further than Diplomat Beach Resort. Our studio and one- to 2-bedroom accommodations are unbeatable in luxury, convenience, and comfort, ensuring the ultimate getaway.
Our Longboat Key oceanfront condos comfortably sleep up to 6 guests, depending on the size of the rental. You’ll also enjoy full kitchens with stainless steel appliances, central A/C, a balcony, and large flat-screen TVs. You might also find upgraded décor with comfy furniture, freshly painted walls in soft colors, and granite countertops in the kitchen and bath.
Diplomat Resort has a heated pool, lounge chairs, and quick access to the beach. Not to mention, all of our units are Gulf-facing, so you have ensured a fabulous view no matter which unit you choose. Contact us today to get started on your dream Longboat Key getaway!