The inaugural Innings Festival Florida is on the horizon, coming to the grounds of Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium on March 19-20.
Green Day and The Lumineers headline the festival that also appeals to baseball enthusiasts, with appearances from Major League Baseball legends including Ozzie Smith and Gary Sheffield. Fans can swing or catch a ball with the players, getting tips from them and, for many, fulfilling bucket list items.
Musically, the festival is diverse. The lineup also includes Incubus, 311, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Goo Goo Dolls and Skip Marley, playing across three stages. The schedule has been planned so there is no overlap, meaning guests won’t have to choose between watching favorite bands.
The cross-section of baseball and music happens with a live taping of Off the Mound featuring Ryan Dempster, an onsite talk show featuring MLB players and musicians. MLB players will flex their musical muscles during the “All Star Baseball Jam,” hosted by former MLB pitcher Jake Peavy.
A variety of local food vendors and family activities round out the festival. Guests can bring an empty water bottle to fill at free water stations throughout the festival.
The Innings Festival was founded by Tim Sweetwood in Arizona in 2018. It’s produced by C3 Presents, where Sweetwood is a producer and develops festivals. C3 Presents also produces powerhouse music festival Lollapalooza.
The festival was conceived in conjunction with Arizona’s MLB Cactus League spring training and Florida’s Grapefruit League spring training. The first three weeks of spring training games were canceled, due to the lockout and lack of agreement between Major League Baseball owners and players. Still, Innings Festival Arizona happened Feb. 26-27 in Tempe.
The Tampa Bay Times caught up with Sweetwood to chat. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What sparked the idea to combine baseball and music?
It’s a natural fit in many ways. If you look at the sport itself, then you know how players have walk-up songs. And sports individuals in general are inspired by music and musicians are inspired by everybody ... But it was also tied to the fact that these spring training camps go on in Arizona and Florida. And people have traveled all over the country to come in town ... It was also the combination of, go to a baseball game and then find some entertainment after the games.
Did the first three weeks of spring training games being canceled this year have any effect on attendance at Innings Festival Arizona?
It did not affect us negatively at all. It had a positive impact. We had our best sales ever in Arizona, and we’re having some nice sales in Florida as well. There was a lot of people that still traveled to town in Arizona, and were looking for something to do. We actually had people showing up earlier to the festival than we ever had before. So it didn’t really hurt us, and then, at the end of the day, it’s truly a music festival with a baseball theme and player appearances ... The music is the biggest driver there.
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The musical lineup is eclectic. Is offering a variety of genres beneficial?
When I curate these festivals, I’m trying to, of course, get ticket buyers there and get some big acts that can draw some people in, but also trying to give people a chance to see something they may have not seen. And then I’m also a big believer that so many people out there are fans of all genres of music. So, you’re a fan of The Lumineers but then you’re going to go check out Skip Marley because you know the name Marley and you know it’s going to be a cool reggae set.
Why bring Innings Festival to Tampa?
I’ve had my eye on Tampa for a while. It’s fairly centralized, in the state of Florida, and then it also had the most teams ... And then I chose the Raymond James Stadium grounds because I’ve got a relationship with the Tampa Sports Authority. And what I like about them is they’re very used to events large and small as they help host concerts there.
If you go
Innings Festival Florida. March 19-20. Tickets are on sale at inningsfestival.com/florida. General admission prices are $99 for one day, $145 for two. VIP packages are available. Raymond James Stadium grounds, 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa.