Good Sam RV Travel Guide....
SPRING INTO BASEBALL 2016
Arizona's Cactus League caters to RVing baseball fans
Around March every year, legions of baseball fans motor to Arizona for baseball's annual rite of spring--Cactus League spring training. Since the late-1940s, when the Cleveland Indians and New York Giants (before becoming the San Francisco Giants) first went west to the warm desert sun, attending ballgames in the Cactus League has been a popular pastime--and RVers have become a vital strand in this colorful tapestry of baseball fandom. Today, with 15 Major League Baseball teams playing in 10 unique stadiums in central Arizona, the Cactus League is bigger than ever.
From late-February to early-April, game day experiences in the Cactus League can be quite different from regular season games. Though some teams and games do sell out, spring training generally means easier RV-friendly parking, smaller crowds, lower parking, ticket, and concessions prices. Visitors enjoy more player interaction, along with the kind of intimate baseball experience that fans won't experience in Major League games in the likes of venerable Yankee Stadium and other big league parks.
Baseball stadiums are concentrated in the Valley of the Sun, including the big towns of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Mesa. In contrast to many stadiums in Florida's Grapefruit League, the distances between Cactus League ballparks are typically short.
Most stadium complexes sit adjacent to practice fields, where die-hard fans can often catch veterans and future stars taking batting and infield practice. These fields remain a secret to most visitors, who typically only attend the games (most of which take place in the afternoon). A few of night games give savvy fans the opportunity to take in a day-night doubleheader.
Many Cactus League also host Minor League Baseball and Arizona Fall League games, so even after spring training has ended, fans can still enjoy action play in these world-class facilities. Both Minor League and Fall League games offer opportunities to see rising stars before they make it to the majors.
Of course, campgrounds abound all around the area, and Cactus League ballparks and teams are particularly welcoming to RVers. Along with easy RV parking at many stadium complexes, public transportation and frequent trolleys or other shuttles make it easy to reach stadiums near and far. See RV park listings for information about nearby RV parks.
Here's an overview of Arizona's 10 Cactus League stadiums and what to expect:
Maryvale Baseball Park
One of the oldest ballparks in the Cactus League, classic Maryvale Stadium is situated in a neighborhood where Brewers fans, brats, and beer are a spring staple. Intimate seating and a lush outfield berm means there's not a bad seat in the house--and the shaded concourse is the perfect place to head for a brat and brew. Reached by Valley Metro Light Rail Service, the stadium is close to bustling downtown Phoenix proper.
Chicago White Sox & Los Angeles Dodgers
Sprawling Camelback Ranch is situated just off Loop 101 from Glendale's popular Westgate Entertainment District. Opened in 2009, the two-team Sonoran Desert-inspired facility features 12 full practice fields and three half-fields, an orange grove, water features, a river, and a fully-stocked lake between the White Sox and Dodgers facilities. Fans will love the life-sized Tommy Lasorda bobblehead doll, the mini-version of the iconic DodgerVision scoreboard, and famed Dodger Dogs and Vienna Beef Chicago Dogs. Those attending practice in the morning will want to check out two specific practice fields, built to the same dimensions of Dodger Stadium and U.S. Cellular Field, respectively.
Cincinnati Reds & Cleveland Indians
The Reds and Indians both moved spring training from Florida to Arizona and they now share Cactus League games and practice at the modern Goodyear Ballpark complex. Each team has six full practice fields. Highlights of a Goodyear Ballpark game have to include the largest kids zone in the Cactus League, plus Skyline Chili and Bertman Ballpark Mustard as tasty nods to Cincinnati and Cleveland, respectively.
Peoria Sports Complex
San Diego Padres & Seattle Mariners
Built more than 20 years ago, the groundbreaking Peoria Sports Complex was Arizona's first two-team spring training facility. Several phases of improvements are ushering in a new era at this long-time favorite spring destination. Additional seating, a new team shop, a new patio area and pavilion have led to record-setting attendance, while improved food offerings led to a 33% increase in concessions sales in 2015--including more than 50,000 tasty sausages and hot dogs.
Kansas City Royals & Texas Rangers
Located less than 30 miles northwest of downtown Phoenix, Surprise Stadium helped lead the Cactus League into the early 21st century. Loyal Royals and Rangers fans love the open nature of the entire ballpark, including great site lines from any seat and a wide concourse, where barbeque is an obviously popular choice for fans from both cities.
San Francisco Giants
Located in the heart of downtown, the current Scottsdale Stadium has been the spring home of the San Francisco Giants since 1982. Baseball fans can take advantage of free downtown parking (lots fill up quickly), and free trolley and shuttle service make it easy to catch a Giants game. The always bustling Charro Lodge overlooks right field and serves up more than two-dozen varieties of beer, while a smoker cranks out pulled pork and brisket sandwiches. The stadium is also the home of the Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame and the Scottsdale Sports Hall of Fame.
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick
Arizona Diamondbacks & Colorado Rockies
One of the Cactus League's newest and largest complexes, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is the only spring training destination situated on Native American land. Noted for its attendance records, the ballpark features some of the most spectacular mountain backdrops in all of baseball. Game day highlights on hot days might include quaffing one of 20-plus craft beers from Arizona and Colorado breweries.
Tempe Diablo Stadium Complex
Los Angeles Angels
Located just blocks from two major freeways, and also accessible by shuttle from Tempe's downtown, Tempe Diablo Stadium sits in the shadow of stunning nearby mountains. The complex features varied practice fields anchored by the main stadium, which was named Gene Autry Field after the former Angels owner passed away in 1999. Tasty highlights include piled-high nachos served in a mini Angels batting helmet, microbrews in the Tempe Tap Room, and Angelo's Italian Ice.
The Chicago Cubs opened Sloan Park in 2014 to rave reviews, thanks to its Wrigley Field feel and modern amenities. Ballpark food is a tasty highlight here, thanks to Chicago-style deep dish pizza, Chicago dogs, food trucks, and more. Revel on the huge party deck or unroll a blanket on the sprawling outfield berm. After the game, Mesa Riverview Park, and an adjacent shopping and dining complex, await fans.
Built back in 1997 in the heart of Mesa, but undergoing major renovations before the 2015 spring training season, HoHoKam Stadium now features the largest HD scoreboard display in the Cactus League, plus all new seats and seating areas--including a berm. It remains a classic spring training venue, but with modern amenities--like Ike's Sandwiches (an Oakland-area favorite).
For Cactus League information visit, www.cactusleague.com