A Sports Fan’s Guide to Attending Games with Tots

Attending sporting events with little kids takes a lot more preparation and effort compared to leaving them with a sitter. But games can be really memorable experiences to share as a family, and for that reason, I think the extra work is worth it! (Really, that can be said for everything once you have kids, right?!)

We’ve successfully gone to a Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Yankees baseball game, two Tampa Bay Storm arena football games, a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game and a few University of South Florida football games. We’ve UNsuccessfully gone to a PGA tour event. I don’t recommend that until your child is at least 4. The key to a good experience is reading the stadium or arena’s policies in advance and lowering your expectations a bit 😉

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Luke & mama at a Bucs game

Here are a few questions to answer before you show up:

  • Does your baby need a ticket? You might be surprised to learn that at some events, even babies under 2 years old require a ticket.
  • Can you bring your diaper bag, snacks and stroller? Or do you need to downsize your bag to a smaller clutch or use a clear tote? Are baby bottles permitted? How stroller-friendly is it? From our experience, most places are very accommodating for families and allow you to bring in whatever you need. Umbrella strollers that can be folded up and put under your seat are typically allowed while other larger strollers, can be checked.
  • Are there adequate quiet areas & changing tables? Will you need to get away from the action for a bit to feed your baby? What if dad is taking a trip to a game with his son who’s still in diapers? Often there aren’t changing tables in men’s bathrooms. Fortunately more and more public places are offering comfortable places for parents to feed their babies, in addition to family bathrooms fully equipped with a changing table.
  • Will it be too loud? If you want to go to the Swamp for any Florida – SEC team match up, you probably want to leave the baby at home. But most smaller scale events are probably OK for tots, in my opinion. If you’re worried, get them some headphones.
  • How long is the game? Some kids are able to sit still for extended periods, many are not. That being said, you probably won’t stay the whole game. Aim for half, and anything additional you get in will be a bonus.
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Luke with his Rays hat and sunglasses giveaways

With baseball season in full swing, it might be time to take the kids to their first baseball game. The Tampa Bay Rays offer Family Friendly Days every Sunday home game where kids can take home fun giveaways like bobble heads. The Trop is pretty fun for kids with the stingray tank and game area, and it’s air conditioned. And don’t forget about minor league games. This might even be an even more family-friendly option since there are stadiums all around the Bay Area, the games are cheaper, and they typically offer many of the same kid-friendly benefits like running the bases after the game.

What are some other sporting events that are fun to do with kids? And what other factors should parents consider when bringing their kids?

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