Review by Mike
Steinbrenner Field is the Spring Training home of the New York Yankees and the home of the Tampa Tarpons of the Florida State League. Even in Spring Training, the Yankees are still the Yankees. Everything has to be bigger and more impressive than everyone else. Steinbrenner Field feels like a corporate office with seats and a field more than a baseball stadium.
To begin with, it seats 11,000… 11,000! For Spring Training and Florida State League! If you’re looking for that intimate pre-season experience, don’t come here. This place is bigger than most AAA stadiums. While most spring training ballparks have a few suites surrounding the press box, Steinbrenner Field has a two-story office building with plate glass windows facing the field. Above that there is a nice roof that extends out far enough to provide shade from the late afternoon sun.
There are some nice touches here, like the frieze along the edge of the roof to match the one at Yankee Stadium. The grounds crew does the YMCA dance while dragging the field in the 6th inning. The giant letters between the roof and the top row down each foul line that spell out “YANKEES” is just the kind of bombast one would expect. Frankly, I would have been disappointed had the Yankees played in a cozy, understated ballpark.
The food selection was excellent, with all sorts of things I’ve never seen at a ballpark. I had the beef bulgogi, which was very good. We enjoyed our food while watching the game from the top of the outfield fence, which is lined with seats and a long counter. It was an excellent view and very comfortable.
The scoreboard was the largest, of course, that we saw during our Spring Training trip, but that’s not a complaint. The 360-degree concourse allowed for plenty of room to move around and a tiered bar/café beyond the right field fence, with suspended sunshades, looked like another excellent spot to enjoy the game.
Parking was provided at neighboring Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL Buccaneers. This is where the normal folks had to park, a good 15-minute hike from the stadium, while the beautiful people got to park right next to the ballpark and also enjoy Monument Park, which we missed while be funneled into the venue via a footbridge over the highway.
Overall, Steinbrenner Field was about what I expected; over-the-top, kind of dark, very expensive and way too big for Spring Training, but at least the Yankees have some fun and lean into their image as the evil empire, even going so far as to play the Darth Vader Theme while announcing their starting lineup. Every story needs a villain, and the Yankees thoroughly embrace the role.