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Cactus League
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

Cactus League: Which stadiums are worth seeing and which are not

Cactus League
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)

Cactus League: Which stadiums are worth seeing and which are not

Each spring half of baseball’s best head down to Arizona for the Cactus League Spring Training. This is one of the biggest events in Arizona every year and brings baseball fans from around the country to Phoenix to enjoy the warmth and enjoy some baseball. For the Cactus League, there are 10 stadiums spread throughout the Phoenix Valley with five stadiums playing host to two teams while the other five each are home to a single team. Each stadium is different and has something that makes it special and a good place to watch a game.

10. Tempe Diablo Stadium

The oldest Cactus League stadium is in need of something to catch up with the times. Tempe Diablo is the spring home of the Los Angeles Angels. This stadium opened 53 years ago in 1969 and has undergone minimal renovations in 2006 to make it what it is today, the worst stadium in the Cactus League. This stadium is weird as the lawn seating in the outfield only covers left field as the parking lot takes up the space behind right field. 

The location is one of the big pluses of the stadium as it is sitting right off of the highway in Tempe, AZ, and is only a 10-minute drive from downtown Phoenix. However, besides the convenience and the nice-looking entranceway behind home plate, there is not enough for this stadium to be one worth going to and still needs major updates to bring it up to the standard of other Cactus League stadiums.

9. Surprise Stadium 

The most notable thing against the Surprise Stadium is that it is by far the farthest stadium to get to. It is over a 40-minute drive from downtown Phoenix. That was not the only knock against the Cactus League home of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. Overall the stadium is just underwhelming and lacks character. This could have been any minor league or college stadium in the country. The surrounding area also does not have much going for it as there are a number of practice fields around but not much else. The only bright spot is that by being the most secluded and western stadium it allows for some beautiful sunsets for fans to observe at night games.

8. American Family Fields of Phoenix

Named the same as the professional stadium of the Milwaukee Brewers, American Family Fields of Phoenix is an interesting ballpark. Across the outfield, there is a walkway with trees lining it. When there, it had the feeling of walking through a park that happened to be next to a baseball field. There was a renovation in 2019 that had me wondering what the stadium was like before being updated as it was not overly impressive or memorable.

7. Hohokam Stadium

Now the home of the Oakland Athletics, Hohokam Stadium started out hosting the Chicago Cubs. Attendance records were being set at Hohokam, but it is clear that the Cubs have upgraded majorly by building Sloan Park. The patios down the first and third baselines were a nice touch and a great place to socialize and grab a bite or drink. I like the addition of the turf on the ground of the patios because it gives off a nice look.

I will say though that the stadium sort of just suddenly appears through the trees, which was interesting to see. Also, the lawn seating areas seemed much larger than in some other stadiums.

6. Peoria Sports Complex

The Peoria Sports Complex hosts both the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres and does so with some style. In left field, there is a nice pavilion that depending on the day could be covered with a tent or not. Also in the left field corner was a cool area for kids to mess around in. There was a miniature field for wiffleball and a playground that included a decently sized pirate ship. A big aspect of Spring Training for fans is the social and casual aspect. Unfortunately, there are not a ton of areas besides the lawn seating for that to happen. There is a terrace to go up to but it is not too big and could become crowded for a bigger game.

5. Scottsdale Stadium

Sitting in the center of Scottsdale there is not a lot to dislike about Scottsdale Stadium, the Cactus League home of the San Francisco Giants. Holding around 12,000 fans there is something for virtually everyone. In right field, there is the Charro Lodge that lets fans buy VIP tickets to sit in the shaded area with complimentary drinks and food. The food court behind home plate is also a very good part of the stadium and offers loads of different options. 

Scottsdale Stadium is the second oldest Cactus League stadium having opened in 1992. With the age, there definitely could be some things added to the stadium, but overall it is a good place to watch a game and very convenient to get to. 

4. Goodyear Ballpark

Home to both of Ohio’s teams, the Cleveland Guardians and Cincinnati Reds, Goodyear Ballpark is the most underrated stadium. While being a half-hour drive from downtown Phoenix it is worth going. Outside the stadium, there is not too much to see or do as the Phoenix Goodyear Airport is virtually across the street from the stadium. However, the entrance area is rather nice with palm trees and an abstract baseball statue, named the Ziz, filling up the space.

Inside the views are by far the best aspect with mountains sitting right to the West of the stadium. Palm trees also go across the outfield and give off a great springtime vibe, although it does look similar to the palm trees of Dodger Stadium.

3. Camelback Ranch-Glendale

The Camelback Ranch-Glendale embraces the natural color of Arizona with the red coloring of the stanchions and press box exteriors that comes from the red rocks that cover much of the state, especially as one goes north of Phoenix. The seats are also colored similarly to the sand and dirt that is seen almost everywhere in the desert. The surrounding area is also very nice with a total of 12 practice fields six for the two teams that Camelback Ranch-Glendale hosts, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. Separating the two teams’ sides is a big lake that people can fish in if their heart desires.

One of the cooler aspects of this stadium is the patio that sits above the Dodgers’ bullpen in left field. This is cool because the patio offers access to an all-you-can-eat buffet that fans can buy tickets to sit in. There is not a bad seat in this Cactus League stadium and the scoreboard in right field just brings it all together. This is one of the nicest looking Cactus League stadiums and well worth making the drive to.

2. Sloan Park

The biggest Cactus League stadium is Sloan Park, the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs. With a capacity hovering around 15,000 it is no surprise that this stadium is pretty impressive and one of the harder ones to get tickets to. Cubs fans swarm to Mesa, Arizona and that creates the best atmosphere of any Cactus League team. The area that Sloan Park is located on was once a golf course and now has six practice fields and a public park to go with the Cubs’ stadium.

If the Cubs were looking for a home away from home they have it here. While there may not be any green ivy on the outfield walls there are a few subtle nods to Wrigley Field. First Sloan Park has a sign that is smaller but identical to the sign that hangs out front of Wrigley. Another design aspect that was brought from Wrigley is the brick backstop that always has looked great. One more detail that has translated from Wrigley is the rooftop patio at Sloan Park that is supposed to resemble the rooftop seating outside of Wrigley.

1. Salt River Fields at Talking Stick

It is no surprise that the nicest stadium in all of spring training, not just the Cactus League, is where the hometown Arizona Diamondbacks play. Along with the Diamondbacks, Salt River Field has been the spring home of the Colorado Rockies since it was built in 2011. This stadium holds 11,000 fans but has an attendance record of 14,002 for a game between the Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs. Inside the stadium are two team shops one for the D-Backs and one for the Rockies along with a load of local and national foot stands. In the outfield, two lawns become the prime spot for catching the sun while laying back and relaxing.

The best part about this stadium is the view that can be seen from inside. When sitting behind home plate facing the outfield all one can see outside the stadium is the mountain ranges in the distance. This is a spectacular view especially when the mountains are occasionally dusted with snow. Salt River Fields is historic in that it was the first Spring Training stadium to be built of Native American land.

Looking at the entire Salt River Fields complex it is not a surprise that the Cactus League is based around there. Besides the main field, there are 12 practice fields for use as well as numerous office buildings that contain offices for every team and clubhouses. The most recent addition to the complex was a memorial garden dedicated to the USS Arizona, a ship that was sunk at Pearl Harbor in 1941. This was completed in 2020 and is free for anyone to go and see.

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