A Poor Man’s Guide to Phillies Spring Training

Posted by Tony Galante

Clearwater-fl

Heading south for Phillies Spring Training is a pilgrimage everyone should make at one point or another (if not every single year).  However, if you were to fly down there or hop on one of the official Phillies travel deals, the only benefit you’ll truly get is handicapped parking because you are going to have pay an arm and a leg to get there. 

Listen, I don’t make a lot of money yet and I've managed to make it to Phillies Spring Training every year now for six years.  So to every borderline alcoholic who has never been: follow my lead.

Times, they are a changing.  My first trip was on a whim.  We got in our car and we drove.  No hotel reservations, no game tickets, no idea, no nothing.  That’s not going to fly these days. Nowadays, you will need to plan out your Spring Training adventure well in advance. 

DRIVE!  Who doesn't love a good old fashioned road trip? I know.  I know.  Philly to Clearwater is an 18 hour drive.  Boo hoo.  Do you know what it costs to drive to Florida?  It costs about 125 bucks in gas and maybe 25 bucks in tolls.  Split that four ways and it’s forty bucks a person. 

Care to take a guess as to flying?  Each way?  Anywhere from 150-400 dollars plus PER PERSON!  Now times that by four people and then factor in the return flight.   Plus you can’t see South of the Border, and its hundreds and hundreds of billboards, as you cross the North and South Carolina borders from an airplane. 

For an added bonus, stopping at various local eateries, waffle houses, and for some real fun, grab a cheap motel room in some backwards hick town.  We chose Jacksonville.

Next up: Don’t stay on the beach!  We’ve gotten a week’s worth of a hotel stay for what one nigh in a fancy shmancy joint on the water would cost.  The super 8 is clean, dirt cheap, it has apool and it even has an I-Hop that is open 24 hours a day right in the parking lot! What more could anyone ask for? 

Is it the nicest place in the area?  No.  Can you walk to the ball park from there?  Yes.  Ask anyone who has ever been there what a mess traffic can be over the bridge that leads to Clearwater Beach.  You DO NOT want to have to cross that multiple times a day.

Now, you are finally at beautiful Brighthouse Networks Field. (It will always be Brighthouse Networks just like the WWE will always be the WWF and Channel 10 is CBS and Channel 3 is still NBC.  Am I the only one who is still screwed up by that switch?!?) And since you walked, you’ve already saved on parking, not to mention no chance of any felony drunk driving charges if you’re not driving! 

Years ago, much like here in Philly, you could simply walk up to the ticket window and buy tickets for that days game.  This is no longer the case.  The price you pay to be a fan of the WFC.  When you purchase your tickets, do NOT buy actual seats.  BUY BERM SEATING.  It is cheap and a really is a fun place to sit in the outfield fighting for homerun balls.  Plus, it’s a general admission ticket, which means you can spend your time anywhere in the ballpark you so choose (Read: if you are early/lucky enough, you can just grab a seat at the tiki bar in the outfield).

So now you have finally gotten to Clearwater.  You are all checked in at the Super 8.  The game ended two hours ago and you are about ready to leave the tiki bar.  You have a nice day load going and are looking to keep it up. 

But where to now?  Stay tuned for a poor man’s guide of what to do when the game ends and the night begins in Clearwater, Florida.