Savvy Fans Get Spring Training Travel Victories
NEWARK, Calif. (TheStreet) -- Major League Baseball fans don't mark the changing seasons with the shadows of overfed Pennsylvania rodents, but with trucks full of equipment, cheap games in warm climates and players with high uniform numbers and loftier dreams.
They also know to book their spring trips to Arizona or Florida after the last out of the World Series, get out of paying for hotels while getting deals on flights and how to get the most autographs with the least amount of child-elbowing.
|New York Yankees starting pitcher Bartolo Colon throws a warm-up pitch during a spring training game Saturday in Tampa, Fla. Spring training travel has gotten more complicated and expensive over the years, especially for a team as popular as the Yankees.|
This is the first week of spring training ballgames, and while some teams have tickets and travel packages left (ranging from $7 for the Kansas City Royals' lowest-priced seats to $47 for the top New York Yankees ticket), most have been sold out before their cold-weather town's first snow fell. The Boston Red Sox's spring training packages went on sale in August, and trips to their spring match-up with the New York Yankees has been sold out since January. Sports Marketing USA, which has an agreement with MLB to provide spring training travel packages for 21 teams including the Yankees, New York Mets, the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Philadelphia Phillies and World Series champion San Francisco Giants, sold out all its tours before most team packed up their equipment on Truck Day."Twenty-five years ago, you could go to Scottsdale Stadium and buy a ticket for five bucks and sit anywhere you'd like, but that's just not the case anymore," says Lisa Goularte, vice president of sales and marketing for Sports Marketing USA. "You have to plan in advance, and fans that are savvy know you have to book it early to get the hotels you want and games you want." Sports Marketing USA was founded in 1991 by providing spring training travel packages for the Oakland A's. Its basic formula has remained the same: Give fans a weekend with their team, a hotel room and rental car during their stay, an opportunity to meet players and coaches and the option of extending their vacation if they want to see the Grand Canyon if they're watching the Cactus League in Arizona or Key West and Walt Disney World (DIS) if their Grapefruit League franchise spends its spring in Florida.
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