Living and working at Walt Disney World Resort would be a dream for many Disney fans. But for this professional sports team, training at Walt Disney World has become their last resort.
Team Relocate to WDW for Training after Hurricane
In September of this year, Hurricane Ian devastated Florida’s gulf coast. Its damage has yet to be fully remedied, at when it came time for Spring training, the Tampa Bay Rays were left with no facility. With nowhere else to turn, the major league baseball team has made the decision to head to Lake Buena Vista to train at ‘the Most Magical Place on Earth.’
The Tampa Bay Rays were supposed to train in Charlotte County, Florida, at Charlotte Sports Park this season. Unfortunatly, the facility was badly damaged during Hurricane Ian, and the repairs were unable to be done in time for the Rays’ spring training. The Rays have packed their bags for the first time ever and are heading to Walt Disney World to train at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex.
The Disney Sports complex is no stranger to hosting MLB teams. In fact, current Rays catcher Christian Bethancourt trained at the ESPN complex for nine years while playing for the Atlanta Braves. Now, Bethancourt will now serve as a ‘tour guide’ for his new teammates as they explore the facility for the first time. Bethancourt is excited to return to Walt Disney World, explaining to MLB.com, “I was at this complex for like nin years, so I’m pretty familiar with it…This is like the first day of school for us.”
? Reporting for duty pic.twitter.com/nbxHGsy9v5
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) February 14, 2023
Tampa Bay Rays Are Thankful for Walt Disney World
After a season of uncertainty, the Rays are thankful to be able to train at the Disney sports facility. Ace left-hander Shane McClanahan says, “It’s cool to have this opportunity to come here and play baseball here… We’re lucky Disney took us in, and we’re going to make the best of the situation.”
The Tampa Bay Rays will train at the ESPN complex for the next two weeks. After that, they will relocate to Tropicana Field next month. The Rays make sure the reiterate that their thoughts and prayers are with the community of Port Charlotte and the rest of the Gulf coast as they continue to repair damage from the hurricane. President of baseball operations Erik Neander expresses, “As excited and thankful as we are to Disney and ESPN Wide World of Sports, we also haven’t forgotten why we’re here and we are continuing to think about Charlotte County and the surrounding areas that were affected by Hurricane Ian and continue to be affected by Hurricane Ian. That will remain in the front of our minds for the foreseeable future.”