Day 2: Visiting Braves and Astros Spring Camps
Day two of my exclusive Legends on Deck Grapefruit League Spring Training venture, has me traveling to the Orlando/Kissimmee area to visit the spring training homes of the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves.
Made my first stop in Kissimmee to visit the Houston Astros, which is actually located in the Osceola County Stadium. An excellent experience for Astros fans and their families. Plenty of player/fan interaction, as players comfortably move from field to field conversing with the fans. Bring your bats, balls, cards and memorabilia to get signed, because there are plenty of opportunities for autographs. Free and convenient parking is just outside the fields making it an easy walk no matter what condition you are in. The four fields provide an excellent opportunity to see your Astros players up close and personal. There is a concession stand, restrooms, and picnic tables in the center of all the action. Its not spread out which is convenient for the fan that just wants to sit at the picnic tables and observe all the fun.
Next stop was the Atlanta Braves, who are a half hour drive north from the Astros Camp. So I am not a fan of the Disney experience at all. In fact I avoid it at all costs. Long lines, endless walking, and more lines….
The Braves Facility is located inside the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (Rumor has it they may be relocating next year to the Port St Lucie area, where the New York Mets have their spring camp). After a brief car wait to park, I arrived, but about a 1/4 of a mile to the entrance. They had several events going on and there was a huge flow of people coming and going. Parking was free, but I would have paid $20 for a close spot if that was an option.
I felt like I was at Disney, and not Spring Training. As you get through the main entrance, the stadium and fields are to the right of the complex. Food and drinks (including adult beverages) are not a problem as everything is very accessible. The ESPN Grill restaurant is basically attached to the Stadium. There is a clubhouse shop to purchase all your fan gear right before the entrance to the stadium. To my delight, after maneuvering through the crowded mass, I entered the stadium and there were a hand full of dedicated Braves fans watching. The Stadium is absolutely gorgeous, and the ESPN theme makes it that much more entertaining.
It has a very good fan player interaction during batting practice, and many players were signing on the first base side and mingling with the fans, both young and old. If you have kids, and they are bored stick them in the outfield grass were they are almost sure to retrieve a home run ball, or position them to the far right field fowl area, but bring a glove.
Next up: Day 3, as I visit the Phillies and Yankee Spring Camps