What’s not to love about Cactus League Spring Training in Arizona? Hope springs eternal as the boys of summer get in shape in the sunshine and fans get up close and personal with their favorite players.
The stats: 15 MLB teams play at 10 Arizona ballparks for more than 30 days beginning in late February and running through March. More good news: All the Cactus League baseball teams are now based in metro Phoenix, so you can follow your favorite hometown team (or teams) at games from Goodyear to Mesa, Surprise to Tempe.
Here are tips and helpful information to get you going on a grand slam Spring Training season.
Arizona Diamondbacks & Colorado Rockies Spring Training
Home field: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
The D-Backs and the Rockies share the newest ballpark in the Cactus League – and the first to be opened on American Indian land. The shady ballpark can seat up to 11,000 fans and features a 360-degree concourse with views of the McDowell Mountains.
Best seats on a budget: $8 lawn seats
Best seats if money is no object: $27 infield box seats
Best eats: Thin-crust pizza slices or tacos paired with margaritas
Insider tip: Arrive early to take advantage of the 144-acre site with pathways for strolling and to see players on the practice fields.
Chicago Cubs Spring Training
Home field: Hohokam Stadium, Mesa
Big, boisterous Windy City crowds fill this beloved 12,500-seat stadium, one of the biggest in the Cactus League. 2012 will be the Cubbies last season here, though. Next year, they move to a new ballpark, also in Mesa.
Best seats on a budget: $8 outfield berm seats
Best seats if money is no object: $28 seats in the first five rows behind the dugouts – bring a glove and stay alert
Best eats: Pork cutlet sandwiches and Italian ice, washed down with an Old Style beer
Insider tip: You might get picked to stand on the Cubs dugout and sing Take Me out to the Ball Game with the crowd.
Chicago White Sox & Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training
Home field: Camelback Ranch, Glendale
The Dodgers and the White Sox have equally swanky facilities, separated by a five-acre lake at this 13,000-seat ballpark, the largest in the Cactus League. Fans like the unobstructed sight lines, plus the ballpark’s angular, desert-inspired architecture.
Best seats on a budget: $8–$10 lawn seats
Best seats if money is no object: $39–$41 home plate box seats
Best eats: Dodger Dogs vs. Vienna Beef Chicago-style hot dogs
Insider tip: Follow the scent of citrus blossoms to the orange grove, a touch of Dodgertown in the desert.
Cincinnati Reds & Cleveland Indians Spring Training
Home field: Goodyear Ballpark, Goodyear
Goodyear becomes Ohio West as fans flock to this 10,300-seat stadium, with a recessed field that ensures great sight lines. The Kids’ Zone has interactive inflatables and a Wiffle Ball field.
Best seats on a budget: $8 berm seats
Best seats if money is no object: $750 gets you and up to 14 friends into an air-conditioned luxury suite, with food, soft drinks and other perks.
Best eats: For Reds fans, Skyline Chili dogs; for Indians fans, hot dogs with Bertman Ball Park Mustard
Insider tip: At the entry, snap photos of The Ziz, artist Donald Lipski’s homage to baseball and flight, or look for ballpark mascot Zizzy, whose costume echoes the 60-foot-tall sculpture.
Kansas City Royals & Texas Rangers Spring Training
Home field: Surprise Stadium, Surprise
This shady, 10,600-seat stadium has views of the rugged White Tank Mountains to the west and the Bradshaw Mountains to the north, plus concourse-level batting cages so you can watch both the game and players as they practice. The free carousel is popular with the wee ones.
Best seats on a budget: $8 lawn seats
Best seats if money is no object: $35 Home Run Party Tent seats, which include an all-you-can-eat buffet and a drink voucher
Best eats: Kansas City-style barbecue or one of the Asian fare selections, such as sushi
Insider tip: Fighter jets from nearby Luke Air Force Base frequently fly over the stadium, and on Sundays, different military branches take turns raising a flag during the opening ceremony.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Spring Training
Home field: Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe
Set along craggy buttes, this ballpark opened in 1968 and has about 9,600 seats. The Angels play on Gene Autry Field, named for the singing cowboy who was the first – and longtime – owner of the franchise.
Best seats on a budget: $12 lawn seats
Best seats if money is no object: $47 upper pavilion seats, which include a buffet and soft drinks
Best eats: Gourmet pizza slices and Italian ice
Insider tip: Arrive early to get good parking, watch players practice and snag autographs as players cross the parking lot from practice.
Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training
Home field: Maryvale Baseball Park, Phoenix
Brewers fans love this 10,000-seat ballpark because you can see the game from almost anywhere, including the concession stands. The stadium’s airy, modern design has won numerous architecture awards.
Best seats on a budget: $8 lawn seats
Best seats if money is no object: $22 box seats
Best eats: Wisconsin-style brats and beer
Insider tip: Keep your eyes peeled for the famous sausage races, when characters dressed as chorizo, bratwurst, hot dog, Polish and Italian sausages run down right field, then sign autographs.
Oakland Athletics Spring Training
Home field: Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Phoenix
The Oakland A’s have called 8,000-seat “Muni” stadium their Spring Training home since 1982, but the ballpark’s 1964 space-age design has been carefully preserved during more recent renovations.
Best seats on a budget: $12 outfield reserve are bleachers with seat backs
Best seats if money is no object: For $35 per guest, reserve the MVP or Cy Young suites or the roomy Patio Plaza, and enjoy the game with 11 to 49 of your friends
Best eats: Something from the Asian wok cart or a portobello mushroom sandwich
Insider tip: A history timeline embedded in the concourse walkway details Arizona Spring Training highlights, plus Muni moments, such as when Willie Mays hit the first Spring Training home run at the ballpark.
San Diego Padres & Seattle Mariners Spring Training
Home field: Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria
The 11,000-seat ballpark is popular with Padres and Mariners fans who come early to watch players on practice fields, then continue the party post-game at adjacent hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues.
Best seats on a budget: $7–$8 lawn seats or $35 Family Four-Pack Mondays, which includes four lawn seats plus food for four
Best seats if money is no object: $26–$28 infield box seats
Best eats: Half-pound, foot-long “Ruthian” hot dogs; gyros or fish tacos
Insider tip: Find your way to “Autograph Alley,” the ramp where the players walk into the ballpark and sign autographs before each Spring Training game.
San Francisco Giants Spring Training
Home field: Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale
The World Series-winning Giants strut their stuff at this 12,000-seat Old Town stadium. Spring Training has been a Scottsdale tradition since 1956, when teams such as the Orioles, Red Sox and Cubs played at the site’s original ballpark.
Best seats on a budget: $12–$15 lawn seats
Best seats if money is no object: $100–$125 will get you into Charro Lodge at right field and includes all food, beer and wine; proceeds benefit community programs
Best eats: Smoked-brisket or pulled-pork sandwiches, plus garlic fries
Insider tip: Watch the Giants work out on non-game days for free admission, or walk from the stadium to downtown Scottsdale’s fabled restaurants, galleries and shops.
For More Information
Get Cactus League Spring Training information and tickets at www.cactusleague.com.