One of the great joys of an immersive spring training experience is including college baseball in the mix. This year, thanks to COVID-19, heading to a college baseball game may be a challenge.
Spring-training veterans know that adding a college game to the mix will lead to plenty of day-night doubleheaders: most MLB spring-training games are played during the day, while most college games are played at night.
The same factors that limit attendance at MLB spring training games are also impacting college baseball games, with many programs limiting capacities for a variety of factors, including local health guidelines and regional conference rules. So yes, there are college games to attend, and yes, you’ll need to do some research before attending.
In Phoenix, for instance, venerable Phoenix Municipal Stadium is closed to fans for Arizona State University Sun Devils games. This isn’t a local policy–after all, MLB teams are admitting fans for spring-training games–but rather a PAC-12 policy. This may change any minute, however; there’s talk in PAC-12 circles that conference prohibitions against fans in the stands for outdoor events may be lifted if local health authorities consent.
“We’re working hard on it right now,” Ray Anderson, ASU Vice President for Athletics, told the Arizona Republic late last week. “The Pac-12 athletic directors have really coalesced around the idea that those who can do it,” would be allowed to do so based on local health authority restrictions. “I’m optimistic we’re going to get there. It may take another week or so.
“One of the advantages we have here is we have the precedent of spring training. We’ve got the blueprint for what the state has allowed so we hope to be able to mirror what’s happening at spring training in terms of capacity.”
Grand Canyon University, however, is indeed allowing fans in a limited fashion to GCU Ballpark. Located in Phoenix near American Family Fields of Phoenix, GCU Ballpark is a delightful venue and definitely worth a visit. Be sure to hit a night game: sunsets viewed from GCU Ballpark can be spectacular.
In Florida, fans at a college ballpark is a hit-and-miss experience. Tampa’s USF Baseball Stadium, for instance, is closed to fans due to local restrictions. (That’s USF Baseball Stadium at the top of the page.) UCF’s John Euliano Park in Orlando, on the other hand, is open to fans, as is Gainesville’s sparkling new Florida Ballpark on the University of Florida campus. Smaller regional schools like the University of Tampa and Rollins College, alas, have already canceled games.
The lesson? Yes, it’s possible to add a college game to your travels, but do some homework before setting out for the ballpark.