Rites of Spring: Cactus League Baseball in Phoenix

Spring Training Peoria Sports Complex

Cactus League Spring Training = baseball paradise. Photo: Dave Maestas

Spring has not yet officially arrived in the desert, but all signs point to the end of winter. The suburban streets are heavy with the smell of orange blossoms, the freeways are crowded with out-of-state plates, and in every corner of the city, nine-to-fivers are buzzing about one thing: spring training baseball (and how to convince your boss to host the next team-building day at the ballpark).

Come springtime, Phoenix turns into a baseball paradise. There are 15 teams that train in Metro Phoenix as part of the Cactus League, including the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Anaheim Angels, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, Oakland A’s, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers.

That’s a lot of baseball.

San Francisco Giants Spring Training

The San Francisco Giants take on the Angels at Scottsdale Stadium. Photo: Dave Maestas

Spring training baseball is for the baseball purists who savor the smell of beer and peanuts in the air. Phoenix’s spring training ballparks are more intimate than MLB stadiums, and you can camp out on the lawn for less than $10 at some of the Cactus League ballparks.

Here are some tips to get the most out of your spring training experience in Phoenix.

  • Spring training games start around 1 o’clock in the afternoon, but try to arrive early. Parking can be hard to find in some of the older, more urban stadiums like Scottsdale Stadium, where parking spots are at a premium.
  • Tickets are usually available at the box office before the start of each game, but buy tickets ahead of time for weekend games, especially for popular teams like the Dodgers, Giants or Cubs.
  • Autograph hounds: spring training is wide open. Arrive a couple of hours early and scope out the practice fields, where major leaguers warm up before the game. Many players are happy to sign balls, cards and snap photos with fan. Click here for more tips on getting autographs during spring training.
  • Bring a sealed bottle of water, or a reusable water bottle that can be filled at water fountains inside the stadium. Also bring sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. If you’re sitting on the lawn, bring a towel too.
  • Where should you eat after the game? Check out Phoenix New Times’ exhaustive guide to post-ballgame food and drink destinations.
  • Get your bearings with this handy map of all the spring training facilities in the Phoenix Metro area.

 

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