Peoria, Arizona, location of the Peoria Sports Complex – the Spring Training home for the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres. The complex is owned by the City of Peoria and sits on 145 acres near Bell Road and AZ101. The stadium seats 11,333, has 12 practice fields, 2 team clubhouses, and 1 visitor’s clubhouse. Attendance for Spring Training has averaged about 230,000 and another 300,000 fill the complex for other events throughout the year including Arizona Summer League, Arizona Instructional League baseball, Arizona Fall League, and the Arizona Baseball Academy to name a few.
In 1993, the City of Peoria finalized a two-year negotiation between the Mariners and Padres to begin construction on the Peoria Sports Complex. It was the first Spring Training facility in MLB to be shared by two teams and has since served as a model for others. Construction was completed and the first Spring Training games were played there in 1994, March 2 – Padres vs. Mariners. Each team signed a 20 year lease initially and negotiated a lease renewal through 2033. As a part of the renewal agreement, extensive renovations will take place to both clubhouses as well as the stadium. Both teams use the complex year round for player development.
Of course, Spring Training also means an opportunity for fans to get up close to Major League players and those who will be stars in the future. Saying hello – getting a hat or a ball signed – having one of the players recognize you from before – it’s all part of what makes Spring Training fantacular! Some of the newer facilities have been built to keep fans at a distance and I truly believe that is a mistake because this is a time to be part of the experience. But that is certai0nly not the case with the Peoria Sports Complex … it is truly one of the most fan-friendly ballparks in the Cactus League system. In addition to filling your autograph book you should plan to fill your stomach as well! The food selections are outstanding … tri tip, shrimp or fish tacos, freshly grilled teriyaki bowls, Greek Gyros, BBQ, special kids meals, and much more.
Notes – I love my team and I would go to Peoria every year to see them regardless; however, I have been to every ballpark in the Cactus League and this particular complex remains my favorite because of the overall atmosphere and experience. When you leave the complex you have more food choices than you can handle … from fast food to complete dining … and there is a shopping mall across the street as well in case there is something you need to buy. With an AL and NL team calling Peoria home, you are sure to find a match up that you want to see – and why not see it at the most fan-friendly ballpark – that’s what Spring Training is all about!
The Baseball PHD has been visiting the Peoria Sports Complex since 2008. This year she visited on two consecutive days:
- Friday, Mar 8, 2013 – Athletics @ Mariners: A’s 12, Mariners 1 – game called in the top of the 4th due to rain
- Saturday, Mar 9, 2013 – Rangers @ Padres: Rangers 5, Padres 2 with 3,489 in attendance
Mesa, Arizona, 10 miles east of Phoenix and location of the Hohokam Stadium (also known as Dwight W. Patterson Field) is the Spring Training home for the Chicago Cubs. Mesa has hosted the Cubs since 1952 and Hohokam Stadium, which opened in 1997, also serves as the home for the Mesa Solar Sox team of the Arizona Fall League. There is a supplemental training facility about a half-mile away – Fitch Park – that includes four practice fields and a practice infield. Extensive seating and a large berm area provides a capacity of 13,074 and they sell out quite frequently! The berm area is spacious and with many more amenities than other stadiums. For a view of the Superstition Mountains, be sure to sit in the 200-level sections (third base side).
The stadium is named after the Mesa HoHoKams, an influential local civic organization that has been the booster of Spring Training baseball in Mesa since 1951. However, the origin of the name actually dates back to the Hohokam Indians who occupied that area until the mid-1400’s. Mesa boasts over 90 years of baseball beginning in 1921 with Rendezvous Park. Spring Training arrived in Mesa in 1950 with a minor league team and then the Cubs in 1952.
What is it about Cubs fans? Regardless of the venue, regardless of the record, they are out in full force and supporting their team vigorously. It must be something in the agony of defeat that pulls together a culture that remains loyal in that long-time quest for a championship. The Chicago Cubs (notably, their fans!), have set many Spring Training attendance records … 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2009 major league record culminating with 203,105 in 2009 through 19 home games. The newer Salt River Fields has recently broken the record.
Notes – Although all indications were that you could not enter the ballpark for BP, I arrived just after 10:00 AM and was told it was open. Sure enough, the Cubs were taking BP – there was hardly anyone in the stadium and it was great to have easy access to all parts of the stadium except the berm area – it remained closed until the end of BP. Similar to many Spring Training facilities, the Fergie Jenkins Foundation ensured there were several retired MLB players available to sign autographs for charity. In that same area, behind the left field line bleachers, there was a trailer serving Iowa breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches – had to have one – glad I did!
Point of Interest – This is the last year to see the Chicago Cubs call Hohokam their Spring Training home. Their new Spring Training facility is currently under construction and scheduled to be completed in December 2013. It will be 3.3 miles west of Hohokam Park at the crossroads of the AZ101 and AZ202 loops. I look forward to visiting it after it is opened.
The Athletics are Coming! The following statement was posted March 5, 2013 on the Athletic’s Facebook page:
The Oakland Athletics and the City of Mesa have reached a 20-year agreement for the team to train in the East Valley city, beginning in February 2015. The A’s, who also hold two five-year options that could extend the contract to 30 years, will conduct workouts at Fitch Park and play their Spring Training games at Hohokam Stadium, the current home of the Chicago Cubs. Fitch Park and Hohokam Stadium are scheduled to undergo $20 million in renovations next year.
As you can see, Hohokam Stadium provides everything you need to enjoy a baseball game and I encourage you to put this destination on your list!
The Baseball PHD visited Hohokam Stadium on Thursday, Feb 28, 2013 … The Cubs hosted the Athletics and the home team was victorious with a 5-3 score and 4,037 fans in attendance.Ballpark address: 1235 North Center Street Mesa, AZ 85201