NewsPinellas County


Tampa Bay area ready to welcome baseball back for spring training

Posted at 4:24 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-14 05:35:38-04

CLEARWATER — The sign outside of Lenny’s Restaurant says it all. “Phinally.” Finally, baseball is back.

Baseball is coming back to Clearwater, and spring training sites all around the Tampa Bay area. Loraine Bronson has been serving Philly fans at Lenny’s for two decades. And she has plenty of regulars.

“They’ve been coming down for 42 years. I’ve been waiting on them 22 years. So this is the go-to. Then they’ll go to the stadium. Sit at the tiki bar. Grab a Bloody Mary and Que sera, sera. And hopefully, make it to the 9th inning.” she said.

Lenny’s is just one block away from the Phillies spring training stadium.

“Spring Training is the best time of year for us. We love it. It’s busier than what our normal business is and we like that,” said Bronson.

While places like Lenny’s are always packed, the return of spring training is really important for people that work at stadiums like BayCare Ballpark.

“I felt bad for all the employees at the stadium. When I heard yesterday that it was coming back. We could get maybe two weeks of it. We are pretty darn happy about all that. We really really are and I’m fortunate and I’m glad that they are going to be getting a taste of it as well,” said Bronson.

This is the third straight year part of spring training was cut, the last two years COVID was to blame.

But tourism officials will take what they can get.

“You look at Spring Training and the visibility it brings to the communities. In our case specifically out of Toronto and the Philadelphia area for those fans to be able to come down and visit is great,” said Visit St. Pete Clearwater president Steve Hayes. And at Lenny’s they know how to cater to the crowd.

“Added cheesesteak to the menu, added scrapple to the menu, added Taylor pork roll, Taylor ham. A lot of the Philly plates that they love,” said Bronson.

Major league baseball and the players union did team up on a million-dollar fund to support workers impacted by canceled games. Now with a deal reached, the damage won’t be quite as bad as it could have been.