ST. PETERSBURG -- Unable to use the Charlotte Sports Park complex due to damage caused by Hurricane Ian, the Rays will hold the first phase of their Major League Spring Training camp at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex before hosting most of their Grapefruit League games at Tropicana Field.
The Rays’ Major League spring workouts, plus a Feb. 28 home game, will take place at the Disney complex in Lake Buena Vista. Tampa Bay’s Major League operations will move from the Walt Disney World Resort to Tropicana Field at the beginning of March, and the Rays will play the remainder of their spring home games at the Trop.
Ticket information for the Rays’ Spring Training games will be released in January. With the Rays relocating, there were minor changes made to the Grapefruit League schedule, which MLB announced on Wednesday:
- Tampa Bay’s home game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, Feb. 26, has been removed from the schedule.
- The Rays’ home game against the New York Yankees on Tues., Feb. 28, will now be played at The Stadium at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney.
- Team Puerto Rico’s scheduled exhibition game against the Rays on Thursday, March 9 will now be hosted by the Atlanta Braves at North Port. The Toronto Blue Jays will now play the Rays at Tropicana Field on that date.
Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Spring Training on Feb. 14, with early arrivals slated for Feb. 6. The Rays will operate their big league camp at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex from then until March 1. It will be a temporary return of sorts for Spring Training in downtown St. Petersburg -- the Rays played their spring home games at Al Lang Field from 1998-2008 before moving south to Port Charlotte.
The Rays’ Minor League camp will be based out of the Disney complex throughout Spring Training.
“We are thankful for Disney’s willingness and ability to accommodate our unexpected Spring Training needs,” Rays president Matt Silverman said in a statement. “ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will provide our players and coaches with first-class facilities for their annual ramp-up to the season.”
The Rays and Charlotte County announced on Dec. 1 that the club would not be able to hold Spring Training at Charlotte Sports Park. The facilities in Port Charlotte sustained heavy damage caused by Hurricane Ian, so officials from the team and county agreed to relocate the Rays’ Spring Training base while they clean up and repair the complex with plans to return in 2024.
The Braves used the Disney facility for 22 years, most recently in 2019, before moving their Spring Training operations to CoolToday Park in North Port. The multifield complex will give the Rays the space they need for their Spring Training workouts.
The Rays also have history at “The Stadium,” formerly known as Champion Stadium. Tampa Bay previously hosted six regular-season games at the Disney ballpark, sweeping a series against the Rangers in May 2007 then winning three games against the Blue Jays in April 2008.
“We are thrilled to be bringing Major League Baseball back to Walt Disney World Resort,” Faron Kelley, vice president of Disney Sports, said in a statement. “We’re always looking for top-tier events, like the Rays’ Spring Training, for our guests to enjoy at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.”