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Official Review by Ryan Norris, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Camelback Ranch opened in 2009 and is owned and operated by the city of Glendale, AZ. The Los Angeles Dodgers moved their spring operation there upon its opening from their longtime home of Vero Beach, Fl.
Camelback also includes 13 full baseball fields and 3 half fields.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food and beverage selection is sufficient for spring training game but does seem a little lacking compared to the quality of the other aspects of the venue.
Dodger Dogs ($5) and Chicago-style dogs are available alongside nachos (chips, cheese and jalapenos only), burgers, pizza and soft pretzels ($5). The quality of these items seem a bit lower than the quality at other cactus league venues. The unique options don't stretch much farther than a pan-fried noodle tent that typically has lines lasting several innings.
With the Dodgers' fan base having a heavily-Latino influence, Camelback Ranch caters its beer and alcohol selection to them. Mexican beer is readily available and the most popular seem to be the 24 ounce cans of Corona or Montejo as well as frozen margaritas. The Montejo Patio Bar is located in the right field corner and you'll find a full liquor bar, Montejo beer and selections from Chicago-based Good Island. A 20 ounce Honker's Ale will run you $9.
Camelback Ranch offers one of the best atmospheres in the cactus league. Between the natural views of the mountains beyond right field and the man-mad lake separating the two teams' facilities, this ballpark offers plenty of beauty.
One oddity is the lack of much sun protection but that is combated by the light-colored seats which don't absorb as much heat. The seating stretches most of the way down each foul line with grass berms in the left and right field corners as well as lift and right-centerfield. Due to the small overhang, you do see many folks congregated in the shaded areas.
The size of the video board could leave a little to be desired but I enjoy the unique layout of it and how it doesn't cover up too much of the awesome view.
There is nothing really to do in the immediate neighborhood surrounding the ballpark. The majority of the neighborhood is large, residential track homes. It's kind of strange to have these all-encompassing, lush neighborhood parks, butting right up against the expansive desert beyond it. Across the river from Camelback Ranch is, quite literally, the Glendale landfill. The approach from the Loop-101 down Camelback Rd has a few fast food options but nothing beyond that.
Your best bet for pre or post-game entertainment is to head to the Westgate Entertainment District about three miles away. Westgate offers all sorts of dining and shopping options as well as 20 screen cinema. This is also the location of University of Phoenix Stadium and Gila River Arena so you may be able to catch a Coyotes game during the month of March. Do note that getting to Camelback Ranch requires a drive from Westgate.
Westgate offers mostly chain restaurants such as Yard House, Margaritaville, Buffalo Wild Wings and Calico Jack's in an upscale environment. There are a lot of beautiful water fountains and outdoor seating alongside upscale condos and hotel options like The Renaissance and the Hampton Inn & Suites. Also of note is the shuttle transports shoppers between Westgate and the nearby Tanger Outlets.
The Dodgers fan base really shows up for spring training in Glendale. Just a five hour drive from central Los Angeles, fans can make a trip to spring training in any length without spending too much time on the road or in the air. Though the Dodgers are relatively new to Arizona, the move has been embraced by their fans.
A Dodgers game at Camelback Ranch is unlike most of the sleepy atmospheres around the cactus league. Granted, it'll be different from a game at Dodgers Stadium, but it certainly has a bit more intensity than other parks around. It's a bit of party with a crowded 13,000 seat stadium and all the fans were engaged with the action or their neighbors.
Be sure to get to the park early! There is one main road from the Loop-101 freeway and it gets packed. For a night game around game time expect to make the mile long drive in at least a half hour. The parking lots, which are expansive, have very few entrances. Parking is free so there are no transactions to be made upon entry and it still takes an eternity. My recommendation is to show up early and take advantage of the free parking and enjoy a beverage or sandwich prior to heading in.
The walk from the parking lots is a little long but is quite enjoyable along a river with lots of Dodgers memorabilia. Most people seem to enter through the center field gate and the staff does a decent job of getting folks in quickly. I'd recommend doing most your walking, if your seat location allows, in the outfield concourse as it flows much better. The infield concourse is packed with people sitting on the ground in the shade and concession lines that pretty much run into each other. The layout for the concession area doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The restrooms lines are significantly better than the concessions; no issue there.
The nice thing about spring training games is the opportunity to throw down a picnic blanket and enjoy the game on the grass. It's a little too crowded to enjoy this option here as the green grass is hard to come by.
All in all, get there early, and plan your concession runs accordingly. If possible, enjoy lunch in the parking lot prior to heading in.
I enjoyed the baseline reserved seating for $17. Sections 105 and 125 are closest to the infield box. Even if you are pinching pennies, I'd recommend staying away from the lawn seating just because it'll so much more enjoyable to have an assigned seat at Camelback. The seat location and price is probably a tad higher than other cactus league venues but the venue is one of the best atmospheres in the desert and I deem the experience well worth it.
The food quality versus how expensive it is probably would drop this down but the free parking evens it out in my mind. You can take the $5 you're saving on parking and throw it toward a Dodger Dog.
Both the Dodgers and the White Sox do an excellent job of honoring their storied franchise. If you enter through the center field gate, you'll walk through a beautiful park along a river. The river is lined with signage acknowledging all of the Dodgers all-stars over the years, organized by position.
Also along the walk, you'll come across oversized baseballs with retired numbers, Cy Young awards and MVPs inscribed on them. These are much like the ones you'll find in Los Angeles at Dodgers Stadium.
An extra point should be awarded for the entire complex, complete with a lake and other water features, impressive architecture and replica home fields for each team.
The Center Field Courtyard is the saving grace in a lot of ways for the accessibility of this stadium. If you're meeting friends, it's a good meeting place with its picnic tables and slightly less crowded concession stands.
Make sure you take the photo opportunity with the over-sized Tommy Lasorda bobblehead outside the center field gate.
I really like the natural and man-made beauty of this venue. It's unique in a lot of ways in that it offers free parking, mountain views, and sand-colored seats. Do make sure you arrive early as it's best to spend an extra hour in the park than in traffic.
Member Review by JasonBartel on Apr 20, 2012
Camelback Ranch is one of the newest spring training complexes in the Cactus League, playing host to the LA Dodgers as well as the Chicago White Sox. Located in Glendale, it is an absolutely amazing place to hang out for the day and take in some baseball. It is conveniently near the Westgate City Center, Jobing.com Arena, and University of Phoenix Stadium just off the Loop 101.
The entire facility has 13 full baseball fields, along with 3 half fields, a fully stocked pond located in between the Dodgers and White Sox facilities, as well as many walking paths for visitors to get around the entire facility and check out their favorite players doing various drills before the game. The scenery and views from everywhere on the grounds are absolutely breathtaking. The stadium has the largest capacity in the Cactus League with a capacity of 13,000.
Member Review by paul on Apr 17, 2014
Camelback Ranch is a great facility, and Dodgers followers make the trip to Arizona each March.
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