Need a reason to attend a Spring Training game? You may not need convincing, but if you do here’s why you should hit some of the 10 ballparks and watch a few of the 15 Cactus League teams this month.
1. The sun is out and it’s March — near perfect weather
What better way to relax and enjoy the desert sun than to watch these games while the rest of the country digs out of snow and winter weather? March in Phoenix beats March in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas City, San Francisco, Seattle — you get the drift. As we like to say to our northern friends: “You can’t shovel sunshine,” but you certainly are welcome to try. Phoenicians already know to bring sunglasses along everywhere, so don’t forget those, or the sunscreen.
2. The stadiums are small enough to see teams and players up close
Go to the home stadium of one of these teams during a regular-season game and you get large facilities and crowds, but the Cactus League presents smaller venues. You can watch the players scoop a grounder, smack a line drive or sling a curve ball past a hitter, all with a great view and great sound effects. These games have an intimate charm to them, so relax and take it all in.
3. Enjoy the restaurants and attractions nearby
Why not make a day trip out of a Spring Training game, meet some old friends on the other side of town and check out some of the other cities? Many communities offer retail shopping, restaurants and tourist attractions near the Cactus League stadiums.
Salt River Fields, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, is across Loop 101 from the Talking Stick Resort. Scottsdale Stadium, home to the San Francisco Giants, has Old Town Scottsdale within walking distance. Sloan Park, home of the Chicago Cubs, is a stone’s throw from Mesa Riverview. Glendale Camelback Ranch is near the Westgate Entertainment District and historic downtown Glendale. There are also plenty of hiking trails on both sides of town and in Phoenix.
4. You can catch several games in one day
With the Cactus League schedule the way it is and the close proximity of the stadiums in the East Valley and West Valley, you can catch an early game in one park, then leave to watch another at another stadium. That convenience helps with split-squad games or if you want to catch a team from the other league (American or National) play.
5. Tickets are more affordable
For many of the games, the tickets cost significantly less than what fans will pay in the home stadium. The games are shorter, too. That leaves you with more cash to spend at the nearby retail stores, restaurants or breweries, or on another game.
So take in some sunshine, relax, enjoy a favorite beverage, some good eats and soak in the desert warmth. It’s a great time of year here in the Valley for fun, so get those tickets now for an upcoming game. Just remember, your team hasn’t lost a game yet and hope springs eternal.
– Suzanne Wilson, Phoenix.org