Published February 2014

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Spring training brings MLB teams to Arizona for 67th Cactus League season

BYKara Philp
Longer days, warmer temperatures, and baseball — three signs spring has arrived in Arizona.
 
The Cactus League, comprised of 15 Major League Baseball teams (and countless fans), has convened across Arizona ballparks since 1947. And, each year there’s something new to see and experience — no matter which team you’re rooting for.
 
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale
The opening of Salt River Fields, in February 2011, marked the transition of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies from their former fields — Tucson Electric Park and Tucson's Hi Corbett Field respectively — to the Phoenix area. This complex is owned by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and is the first Major League Baseball Spring Training facility built on Native American land.
Home teams: Arizona Diamondbacks (schedule) and Colorado Rockies (schedule)
Year opened: 2011
Seating capacity: 11,000
Single-game tickets: $19 – $28
Grand-slam tip: Your best shot at scoring a player’s autograph is along the railing between sections 101 – 104 (Rockies) and 120 – 123 (D-backs), up to 40 minutes prior to game time or until the end of batting practice, whichever comes first. Additionally, the Diamondbacks hold autograph sessions at each of their home games on the left field concourse from 11:50 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. prior to day games and 5:45 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. prior to night games.
 
Surprise Stadium, Surprise
As part of the Surprise Recreation Campus, this ballpark was voted Best Spring Training Facility by USA Today in 2012.  The field, home to both the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers, was named after Billy Parker, the first Parks and Recreation director in Surprise and a professional baseball player with the Angels and Yankees.
Home teams: Kansas City Royals (schedule) and Texas Rangers (schedule)
Year opened: 2003
Seating capacity: 10,400 
Single-game tickets: $8 – $28
Grand-slam tip: Surprise Stadium’s practice fields are open to the public beginning at 10 a.m. daily from Feb. 17 to March 26. There is no cost for admission or parking on non-game days. Practice times vary.
 
Cubs Park, Mesa
This spring, the Chicago Cubs will break-in their newly constructed stadium. Already being referred to as “Wrigley West,” this ballpark will mark a new era for the first team to make Arizona its spring training home. The Cubs previously played at Hohokam Stadium and regularly led the Cactus League in attendance.
Home team: Chicago Cubs (schedule)
Year opened: 2014 
Seating capacity: 15,000 
Single-game tickets: $8 – $34
Grand-slam tip: Cubs fans will recognize various intentionally added touches are reminiscent of Wrigley Field — from the brick wall behind home plate to the green scoreboard.
 
Goodyear Ballpark, Goodyear
Spring training and player development home of both Ohio-based Major League Baseball teams — the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds — Goodyear Ballpark was voted "Best Place to See a Spring Training Game" by the Phoenix New Times in 2012. Beyond spring training, both teams use their respective facilities year-round, for extended spring training, rookie and fall instructional leagues, as well as player rehabilitation.
Home teams: Cleveland Indians (schedule) and Cincinnati Reds (schedule)
Year opened: 2009
Seating capacity: 10,311
Single-game tickets: $8 – $32
Grand-slam tip: Fans, young and old, are welcome to use the baseball diamond beyond the right field foul line during games — right next to where their favorite athletes are playing. And, once the spring training crowds are gone, fans can catch an Indians or Reds Arizona Rookie League game (late June – August). Games take place at 7 p.m. and are free.

Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe
Tempe Diablo Stadium was founded in 1968 and the Angels have held spring training here for 22 consecutive years. Want to be a part of baseball history? Order a personalized brick ($104 online), and have your name and message forever on display at the Tempe Diablo Stadium. Not a bad idea, considering that the Angels are on pace to call this field — dedicated as Gene Autry Field in 1999 in honor of the former Angels owner who passed away following the 1998 season — home for several years to come.
Home team: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (schedule)
Year opened: 1969 
Seating capacity: 9,315
Single-game tickets: $18.25 ­­– $55.75
Grand-slam tip: The Angels Spring Training Trolley allows fans to park at several Tempe locations and take a trolley ride to the game — for free. Because trollies pass on 20-minute intervals, plan to spend some time in the Mill Avenue District and at Tempe Town Lake before, or after, the game.
 
Arizona Diamondbacks players hold autograph sessions at each of their spring training home games
Arizona Diamondbacks players hold autograph sessions at each of their spring training home games
If You Go
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick
7555 North Pima Road, Scottsdale
480-270-5000 
 
Surprise Stadium
15850 N. Bullard Ave., Surprise
623-222-2222 
 
Cubs Park
2330 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Mesa
480-668-0500
 
Goodyear Ballpark
1933 South Ballpark Way, Goodyear
623-882-3120 
 
Tempe Diablo Stadium
2200 W. Alameda Drive, Tempe
480-350-5205 
 
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