Atlanta Braves and Spring Training at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports


It is that time of year again, and all my thoughts turn to spring training baseball. Since I live in the Atlanta area, my thoughts turn to Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports. The Atlanta Braves have had their spring training base at Disney since 1998. The Braves trained in West Palm Beach from 1962 until their move to the Disney facility.

There are mixed emotions about the Braves’ plans to build and move to a new stadium in Cobb County for the 2017 season. Now the Braves are looking into what they will do when their lease runs out at Disney’s Champion Field in 2017. A number of teams training in central Florida are moving to new locations.

Mar 11, 2014; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Fans enter through the gates at ESPN

If the Braves do move, they will be giving up a 9,500 seat stadium that has many of the amenities of a major league stadium. They would also forgo the draw from the thousands of daily visitors to Disney World.

In addition to the stadium, the complex has four professional size ball fields plus a practice infield. There are also batting and hitting tunnels, pitching machines, and bullpens. Two of the fields are set up for practice or play at night.

Braves President John Schuerholz has stated that the Braves are only looking at their options for 2017, and he and the people at Disney will be discussing those options as they would involve the current site. Part of the problem for the Braves is the fact the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals are looking to move their training sites out of the area to West Palm Beach. This would leave only the Detroit Tigers close to the Braves.

I hope the Braves will stay at Disney for their spring training games. It is a great place to visit in the spring, and I guess I will need to figure out a way to get down there pretty soon.

Mar 6, 2015; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Alex Wood (40) throws during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Disney facility is located in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. In doing research of the complex, I found that Lake Buena Vista is a city totally owned by Disney, and the official population is only 10 people. This may explain why the location is sometimes listed as Kissimmee, Florida.

To me the idea of a spring trip to Disney World which included taking in a few spring games at Champion Field is a real winner. I would be able to enjoy the sights of the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom and see baseball in the relaxed atmosphere of spring training.

If you are interested in staying near the complex, you might check out Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort. The All-Star Sports Resort is one of Disney’s more budget friendly resorts, but it does not lack in amenities. There is a large swimming pool with a surfboard motif, the End Zone food court where you can pick up a quick meal or snack and on many nights you can enjoy a Disney movie being screened at the Surfboard Bay Pool.

You do not have to visit the ESPN Wide World of Sports just for spring training. The facility is open year round and hosts many events. You can enjoy basketball at the HP Field House, which is home to the Orlando Classic annual college basketball tournament held over the Thanksgiving weekend.

You can see soccer tournaments at Hess Sports Fields. There is a softball complex and a tennis complex. There is also an area for track and field events.

Mar 6, 2015; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; The Atlanta Braves scoreboard featuring a new countdown clock during the inning of a spring training baseball game at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball gets a lot of action at the Disney Sports complex. Everything from groups 8 years old and under up to college age groups can find tournaments and events for play on the Disney Fields. Check Disney World’s listings for all of the events throughout the year at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports.

So now that spring is just around the corner and baseball fever is about to begin, I suggest a trip to the Disney ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. Where better to get your fix and cure for spring training baseball?

Next: Take a Spring Training Vacation

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