Chronological Tour: Stop 135

Spring Home of the Yankees

Exterior of Legends Field, from the west, Aug-1998.

A good look at the seating bowl.

Since this photo was taken, Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL Buccaneers, was built across the street.

Quick Facts: Rating: 4 baseballs
Whatever King George wants, King George gets. When principal owner George M. Steinbrenner III of the New York Yankees wanted to relocate the club’s spring training base from the sea coast to his home town, it happened. A park worthy of Triple-A ball rose right across the street from Tampa Stadium, “the Big Sombrero”, within shouting distance of Tampa International Airport.

The park’s capacity was designed so that transplanted New Yorkers could see their heroes in Grapefruit League action. While I’ve never been to spring training, I did attend an August 1998 Florida State League game here.

Alas, the park appeared to be overkill for the level of play of summer ball, a problem shared by the entire Florida State League. I paid an unusually low $3 for a general admission ticket, but was only the 36th person to do so that day. At no point during the twilight-night doubleheader did the head count in the stands exceed 250. In addition, the public address system was balky, shifting from full power to a whisper and back of its own free will.

There’s no question, though, that Steinbrenner constructed a spring training showplace, which was his aim. There’s enough room for you if you go down to Florida in March – you and the luxury-box-demanding fans. For the rest of the season, there’s room enough to stretch out and perhaps snag an easy souvenir foul ball.

Legends Field – officially renamed George M. Steinbrenner Field in March 2008 – is worth a look. When you look at it is up to you.

Following spring training in 2016, much of the stadium received a major renovation. While the Tampa Yankees continued to play there, parts of the ballpark and surrounding grounds were blocked off as part of an overhaul, financed partly by the Yankees and partly by the City of Tampa, that was ready for spring training in 2017.

As part of a recent wave of differentiating Minor League teams from their parent franchises for marketing purposes, the Florida State League Yankees affiliate rebranded as the Tarpons for 2018. A previous FSL club called the Tarpons had played in Tampa from 1957-87. The tarpon is a large fish common to the Tampa Bay area; there is a city called Tarpon Springs along the Gulf Coast northwest of Tampa.

Game # Date League Level Result
323 Sat 8-Aug-1998 Florida State A Vero Beach 2, TAMPA 0, 2d
1496 Wed 24-Aug-2016 Florida State A TAMPA 3, Dunedin 0
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This page updated 11-Dec-2017