By Molly Cerreta Smith
One of the greatest times of the year to be a valley resident, in my opinion, is during Spring Training! The amazing weather, the array of beautiful stadiums and the amount of sheer baseball talent that flocks to the valley throughout February and March in the name of Spring Training all add up to a great time, regardless of which team is up to bat. With convenient stadiums within reach in every area of the valley, there’s no excuse not to get out and catch a game during Spring Training.
Attending Spring Training games is one of my favorite pastimes, and I’m not alone in declaring my love for Spring Training. The City of Peoria’s Mayor Cathy Carlot calls spring training one of the City’s favorite seasons of the year.
“Now in our 27th year, Peoria is proud to be the spring training home of the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres. While we continue to host the best lawn seating experience in the Cactus League, over the years, Peoria has worked hard to elevate the fan experience through a series of upgrades and new amenities,” Mayor Carlot says. “This includes more shaded seats, a children’s splash and play zone–the first of its kind in the Valley, and a private, luxury room available for up to 200 guests that offers a VIP experience with a private patio overlooking the diamond.”
This year, baseball fans in the Peoria area can enjoy the action and excitement of watching pre-season baseball with multiple food and beverage options that range from a Burger Bar to various specialty items like the jalapeno-wrapped foot-long hot dog, mac n’ cheese hot dog, family-size souvenir helmet nachos, and street tacos.
Mayor Carlot adds, “With many unique amenities designed to keep the entire family entertained, this year we are also proud to continue our discount program for Peoria residents called Resident Rewards. This offer allows Peoria residents a chance to save 25% on tickets and receive free parking. Additional game promotions include events like Dog Days, Kids Days, Friday night happy hours, and Hometown Heroes to support our veterans and active military. And, as always, Autograph Alley and the practice fields are open for up close interactions with the players.”
The Peoria Sports Complex opened in 1994 and was the Cactus League’s first two-team facility. After an incredible partnership that spanned more than two decades with the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres, in 2013, the teams signed an agreement for another 20 years. This long-standing partnership is a tremendous point of pride for the City of Peoria, and a unique opportunity for families and friends to join together in celebration of America’s favorite pastime.
Over in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, the Scottsdale Stadium is a fan favorite. Due to the fact that it’s nestled so supremely in Old Town Scottsdale, baseball fans can also enjoy the best of the surrounding area including amazing hiking, bicycling, shopping, dining, arts and entertainment. Free three-hour parking is available and free Old Town trolley, which extends its route to Scottsdale Stadium starting 90 minutes before and ending 30 minutes after each game, is a great way to catch a game as well as a ride around exploring the sites of Old Town!
There is something to be said for the charm and history of Scottsdale Stadium, and according to Karen Churchard, Director of Tourism and Events for the City of Scottsdale, it still sits on the same corner where the original wooden bandbox was built in 1955.
As the location for the San Francisco Giants Spring Training “home,” Scottsdale Stadium and the City of Scottsdale itself has become a highly desirable tourist destination for baseball fans from far and wide with its great weather, outdoor recreational amenities and world-class resorts and spas. In fact, Spring Training serves as a powerful economic booster for the City.
According to the 2015 Cactus League Attendee Tracking Survey, the total economic impact of Spring Training at Scottsdale Stadium is nearly $28 million, which includes spending that occurs in Scottsdale by residents and out-of-town visitors attending the games. Estimated tax revenues to the City as a result of this spending is nearly $695,000.
This year, Scottsdale Stadium boasts a new and improved famed Charro Lodge, featuring an exclusive elevated experience on the second level, a new social bar located in the Corral, more permanently shaded structure and 20% more capacity. The private facility within the stadium offers fans a VIP experience and with the Charro Lodge pass includes general admission, complimentary food and beverages, patio-style seating with optimum views of not only the game but of the fabulous people watching for which Scottsdale Stadium is known. Many of the nearby restaurants and bars get in on the Spring Training action by offering specials during games as well as transportation via bus or otherwise to and from the games. Tickets for Scottsdale Stadium can be purchased at www.sfgiants.com
During Spring Training, the Arizona Diamondbacks share their home, Salt River Field at Talking Stick, with the Colorado Rockies. The stadium itself has become an integral part of the rapidly growing entertainment district that draws thousands to its multitude of attractions beyond just baseball. Salt River Field prides itself on building “the biggest and best spring training baseball facility in the country.” With a wide array of dining and drinking options, a beautiful layout and surrounding mountain views, it’s tough to argue that point.
From Camelback Ranch in Glendale to Tempe Diablo Stadium, there are opportunities from one end of the valley to the other in which to catch a game while enjoying a frosty brew and a classic ballpark dog (and some of the that wonderful people watching) under the glorious Arizona sun.