MLB spring training starts March 18 in Fort Myers

Reporter: Dannielle Garcia Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Red Sox pitching practice at JetBlue Field. Credit: WINK News

Baseball is back: The MLB and its player association have reached a tentative collective bargaining agreement and all eyes are now on spring training in Southwest Florida, set to return by March 18.

The MLB and its players’ union agreed on a new five-year deal Thursday. Local businesses and vendors at JetBlue Field’s spring training facilities at 11500 Fenway S. Drive in Fort Myers say they’re thankful to be getting back to the boom in business they typically see during spring training. Many say they stock their inventory ahead of time to match the demand they usually see, so some games are better than none.

“I like watching it… I like watching baseball,” said Ryan Bowen, owner of Palm City Brewing Company. “Just from that aspect, I was excited. And obviously, it’s a nice shot in the arm for the business.”

“Not just [from] a business standpoint, but I’m a Rays fan,” said Bert Parsley, owner of the Twisted Fork restaurant in Port Charlotte. “It’s kind of cool seeing the team back and playing and… whenever we get lucky, occasionally players come over and eat, so it’s cool, for sure.”

The players could report to camp as early as Friday, and after a rough few years of canceled games and shortened seasons, locals are ready to see some games.

“We’ve been ready to go for, what, three weeks now?” said Jan and Bernie Zayac, owners of Nuts Galore. “It’s been just kind of a waiting game… checking email all the time. So, we’re ready to go; as soon as they say, ‘Come on down,’ we’ll be there.”

“I think people go to the Twins games and have us on draft and hopefully they like it, or hopefully they visit a local establishment and decide, ‘All right, this is really good and it’s local, let’s go see the tasting room,'” Bowen said. “And that’s the most important thing for us… is, you know, that’s the heartbeat of our brewery because that’s where our margins are better.”

A representative from the Boston Red Sox says the team is still waiting for confirmation from the MLB before making any public comments, but the team website says a new 2022 spring training schedule is currently being finalized.

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