Last year, broke college student Nelson Baitzel solicited advice on how to experience spring training without spending money. A year later, he offers tips on how to stuff your bindle if you're heading down to Clearwater.
My roommate and I set out from Albright College in Reading and pulled an all-night drive to Florida. We lodged at Hillsborough River State Park, where they offer primitive camping for $4 a night. Campers must hike a mile each night to get to the site and there is no bathroom, running water or electricity. The park is about 40 minutes from Clearwater, but it's an easy drive.
We bought tickets for the whole week. Outfield seating is $4 to sit in the grass. A couple of times, we took over empty seats, and for our last game, an old lady offered us free tickets. Parking was not an issue, either. While the strip mall across from the park tried to charge for parking, the frisbee golf course offered plenty of room and was only a five minute walk away. This worked well; we usually played a quick round of golf after baseball. Once, I saw Randy Wolf jog by.
As for food, we emptied our cupboards before we left and took some extra food from the school cafeteria. That covered breakfast. Lunch was usually one item from the dollar menu. Dinner was usually at a Mexican restaurant called Chipotle, which offers huge burritos for $6. Our daily food allowance was $8, so we could save enough to stop at the World of Beers, which according to the owner, is the fourth largest beer distributor in the U.S.
We did the whole trip - seven days, four games and a legends’ game - for about $250 including gas, camping, golf, food, tickets and trips to the beach.
- Nelson Baitzel