Updated: Jan 13
Summary. Scottsdale, Arizona, and the neighboring towns are the home of the Cactus League, one of Major League Baseball's Spring Training leagues. Spring training begins February and continues until the end of March. Located just ~20 minutes from Phoenix, access to the area is easy. For baseball fans, especially young ones, it's a super fun experience to come watch some games in sunny Arizona. The ballparks all have varying degrees of access to the players for autographs, but all offer an up-close-and-personal baseball game experience. The parks are much smaller than the Major League parks, making the overall experience more intimate, with many chances to see your favorite players in close-range. Arrive early to catch players walking between practice fields where many will stop and give autographs. Others, like at Scottsdale Stadium, will stop on their way out, either after the game or mid-game when the less experienced players are substituted into the game.
Tickets. Tickets typically go on sale in January but without a set date. If you're looking for a specific game and seating area, you'll want to watch for press releases that announce the day they are going on sale for your particular team or ball field. Spring training tickets are generally less expensive than regular season tickets.
Peoria Sports Complex: Located ~30 minutes from Scottsdale, this baseball stadium complex houses the Mariners and the Padres. It consists of the main stadium, which holds 12,000 fans, and 12 full-sized practice fields.
We arrived early to watch batting practice on the practice fields which are located immediately adjacent to the main field. As players walk between the main ballpark and the practice fields, you can catch some players' autographs. It was especially helpful to have Little League aged kids with us, but the players were gracious stayed for many autographs.
After batting practice, we made our way to our great seats on the 3rd baseline. Unfortunately, not long into the game we found that the hot Arizona sun was too punishing. We ended up seeking shade in the standing room only section on the first baseline. If you're heat sensitive, we recommend purchasing shaded seats - a tip we wish we knew in advance. Having nearly melted, we ended up leaving the game a little early to cool off at our Air BnB.
Scottsdale Stadium: The home of the San Francisco Giants since 1984, this stadium is owned by the City of Scottsdale. You may have gathered by the photos that this is "our team." The three Spring Training games we saw were all Giants games, of course!
For cheaper but fun tickets, buy lawn tickets. We brought a blanket to sit on and arrived early early to grab coveted shady spots.
Autographs of your favorite players can be obtained before the game but we had better luck getting the star players by waiting outside the Giants clubhouse at Gate B just after they were pulled from the game, which is not necessarily at the end of the game. At the time, the best autographs the boys were able to get were that of Hunter Pence and Joe Panik.
Camelback Ranch: This home of the White Sox and Dodgers is located in Glendale, ~30 minutes from Scottsdale. The grounds of this baseball complex are beautiful with a park-like setting, including over 5,000 plants and trees. The stadium is well-designed with full shade seats available, which we highly recommend. As this was our third game in three days, we did not stake out the place for autographs. However, we understand Camelback Ranch is just like the other fields where your best shot is to either arrive early and hang out at the practice fields or wait until the players come through the entrance at the third baseline.
Spring training was a super fun experience for our baseball crazy family. Even if you aren't hanging on every pitch, Spring Training is enjoyable. The stadiums are small, there's are a ton of opportunities to meet players, and who doesn't love indulging in some stadium food and a cold beer?
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