Baseball isn't what it used to be. Ticket prices are extortion, parking rates are outright robbery, and the crowds are beyond control.
But there's still a way to enjoy America's Favorite Pastime for sensible prices and with a throwback atmosphere. Yes, at Little League, but you can also watch professional players for pennies at the annual spring training period.
WalletPop's Jason Cochran traveled to Orlando, where the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros train, to see what the experience is like and find out just how affordable it can be. His visit coincided with the relaunch of Walt Disney World's Wide World of Sports as an ESPN-branded facility, where Braves spectators may find themselves on ESPN's cameras in between their visits to the major theme parks of the area.
Held in February and March in Arizona (for the Cactus League) and Florida (for the Grapefruit League), the annual pre-season warm-up period can offer you seats incredibly near the action for as little as $15. For that price, which would barely get you nosebleed bleacher seats during the season, you could even get a chance to interact with the players, who don't tend to hunker in the dugouts like they do during the high-pressure season games.
All spring training tickets generally go on sale in early January. Pitchers and catchers show up first, in mid-February, and by March, the entire team has arrived. For the entire month, they play other Major League teams in training games, giving fans a chance to catch their favorite players for prices that are less than half those of season games, and twice as near the action.
Tickets are usually sold via each team's official web page, and the independent online compendium SpringTrainingOnline.com is one of the most well-known sources of information about the annual late-winter season.
Go for Less: Spring training at Walt Disney World