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MLB Spring Training facilities welcome back limited fans

In a typical year, March is a time when Major League Baseball’s Spring Training venues are packed with fans eager to get a preview of the upcoming season. Many venues have limited in-person attendance this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — but the fans are a welcome sign for the teams and players, including at the five locations with Delaware North operations.

camelback_ranch1-2096865Camelback Ranch in Phoenix hosted 2,347 fans for an exhibition game earlier this week between the White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers. Delaware North has provided hospitality and retail services at the ballpark, which serves as the Spring Training home of both the White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers, since the ballpark opened in 2009. The crowd was small and socially distanced, but, according to White Sox Manager Tony La Russa, “Seeing people in the stands instead of cardboard cutouts was a sight for sore eyes.”

At Scottsdale Stadium in Scottsdale, Ariz., Spring Training home to the San Francisco Giants, Delaware North Chef Thorne Watkins oversees the team dining operation for the players, coaches and team personnel.

thorne_watkins1-7628636Watkins, who is usually the food and beverage manager for Delaware North at the University of Houston’s athletics facilities, begins each day at Spring Training at 4 a.m., working hand-in-glove with the Giants’ director of performance nutrition on menu planning in addition to purchasing and receiving all products required and scheduling all team dining associates. Even with fewer associates than usual this year due to strict COVID-19 restrictions, Watkins and his team still manage to serve more than 300 meals per day, seven days a week, throughout camp.

Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Fla., Spring Training home for the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins, this week hosted 1,500 fans for a game, or about 21% of the ballpark’s full capacity. The Detroit Tigers hosted about 2,000 fans at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla., for a game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Delaware North also is the hospitality provider at American Family Fields of Phoenix, the Spring Training home of the Milwaukee Brewers. 

Above: Delaware North has provided hospitality services for Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers fans at Camelback Ranch since 2009.
Below: Chef Thorne Watkins oversees more than 300 daily meals for players, coaches and team personnel at Scottsdale Stadium.