Baseball players aren’t much different than Grandma and Grandpa, who flock to warmer climes in winter. These youthful, athletic snowbirds build nests in destinations such as Scottsdale and the Tampa Bay Area each February and March for spring training. The annual camps and pre-season games are a major tourist draw, giving fans an up-close-and-personal experience with their favorite superstar players.
If you hold a meeting in a spring training city, here are six ways to hit your event out of the ballpark.
1. Take Them Out to the Ballgame
Florida is a hub for MLB teams, including the Toronto Blue Jays at Dunedin’s Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field in Clearwater and New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. Group tickets are available to games, and meeting professionals can book behind-the-scenes stadium tours. Additionally, George M. Steinbrenner Field has more than 60,000 sq. ft. of event space in a ballroom, terraces, plaza, suites, cabanas, concourse and more for trade shows, conferences and social functions.
In Arizona, Scottsdale Stadium is the spring training home of the San Francisco Giants. Offering breathtaking views of the McDowell Mountains, the press box and patio are great event spaces for meetings and receptions. A new team store added 2,600 sq. ft. of meeting space to the venue. The stadium is available for rental from April 15-December 31.
The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies call Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, also in Scottsdale, their training destination. Located on 140 acres of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, it has expansive space to accommodate up to 600 guests on its 460,000-square-foot field or in its parking lots, banquet rooms, suites, dining room or locker room.
2. Buy Peanuts & Cracker Jacks
Throw a tailgate party at your meeting. Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia has created a spring training menu inspired by popular stadium foods, such as hot dogs, chicken wings, corn on the cob and pulled pork. They can also devise offerings based on a specific team’s hometown cuisine.
Ice-cold beer, ice-cold beer! Nothing sounds more like a baseball game than a vendor’s shouts echoing through the stands. At The Boulders Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, it’ll sound more like a donkey. Meet Mija and Burrito, the Boulder’s Beer Burros, who carry coolers full of…yes, ice-cold beer. They’re also more than happy to pose for a selfie with fans.
3. Cover Your Bases in Decor
A design specialist at Omni Scottsdale can work with a meeting professional to execute a baseball-themed event with furniture. Think diamond-shaped seating arrangement. Or, what about stadium seats as chairs? Food can be served in baseball caps, and napkins can be made to resemble bases.
4. Divide Day into Nine Innings
Why not schedule your meeting day into nine segments? It’s kind of like the changing of periods in high school.
5. Let’s Play Ball
Draft your meeting recruits for your own Cactus League-style wiffle ball game at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale. Kierland Ballpark is available for private rental for a team-building game or homerun derby. To give it a nostalgic ballpark feel, it has a retro scoreboard and bleachers for fans to root from the stands.
6. Seventh-Inning Stretch
To avoid an afternoon slump at your meeting, encourage attendees to get on their feet and stretch midway through the day. Adding a spirited “Chicken Dance” or “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” will get the blood flowing and keep them alert until the very end—especially if accompanied by Cracker Jack and bags of peanuts. It’s also great to reward tired bodies with a massage, just like many baseball players do after a game. Stretch and condition those muscles with a soothing treatment at Joya Spa at Omni Scottsdale. They also offer Quench Therapy administered intravenously, including an athlete-specific remedy that consists of amino acids, minerals and B vitamins to help optimize performance and reduce soreness.