After plenty of chats with the pros in baseball who should know, here’s what we can pass along about Spring Training 2021 and planning under unique circumstances. We’ve put together this list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to begin the discussions.
Will there be spring training 2021?
As of now, yes, with facility managers and MLB teams planning on it. Schedules have been released.
Are the dates set for Spring Training 2021?
Yes. Detroit and Boston will host traditional college games on Feb. 26, with the rest of the Grapefruit and Cactus League launching on Feb. 27. Pitchers and catchers will begin reporting on Feb. 26-17. The last day of Grapefruit and Cactus League games is March 28, followed by two days of exhibition games. The regular season launched April 1.
Picking dates within those time frames for a trip shouldn’t be too risky based on the above dates. Generally speaking, MLB teams don’t spend more than a few days away from their home fields once games begin. If you pick four days to head to spring training, chances are very good you’ll have a home game for at least one of those days—and chances are good any away games will be played a short distance away. But check out the schedules: You can plan away.
What will Spring Training 2021 look like?
That’s the million-dollar question. If spring training were to be held today under Florida guidelines, based on what NFL teams are allowed by the state, you’d be looking at a 20 percent capacity in outdoor venues with mandatory mask usage in crowds and plenty of social distancing enforced, including ticketless entry and cashless concessions, which many operators had been moving toward anyway. (In fact, expect ticketless entry and cashless concessions no matter what.) Many newer spring-training ballparks feature wraparound concourses, large berms and expansive group areas, all the better for enforcing social distancing. We have a rough idea of what the New York Yankees are planning thanks to a budget set with Hillsborough County; expect most MLB teams to set up operations the same way.
What you think Spring Training 2021 will look like depends on how you view future management of the coronavirus pandemic and whether you assume present trends in Florida and Arizona will continue. As of today the numbers in those two states are in serious decline, though positivity rates are still higher than desired. Will things be better by the beginning of February? Answering that question is something you’ll need to decide on your own, but with so many travel-related costs now easily changeable or not subject to those pesky change fees (thanks, United and Delta!), the worst-case scenario is that you make some plans and then either cancel or adjust them as you get closer to early February.