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Official Review by Jason Bartel, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
If you’re looking for baseball at any time of year, chances are Camelback Ranch – Glendale will be able to provide you with your hardball needs. In March, both the L.A. Dodgers and Chicago White Sox call the facility home, and in the fall, the Arizona Fall League’s Glendale Desert Dogs moved in before the 2013 season.
Well, in the summer, two teams also call the vast area of Camelback Ranch home. Both the White Sox and Dodgers field Arizona League teams. The AZL White Sox play most of their games on their primary practice field, which is located just south of the main stadium.
The entire complex is the largest of all the baseball facilities in the Valley of the Sun, spanning 141 acres. The defining feature is the stocked pond and stream, which are located right next to the field that the AZL White Sox play their games.
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No concessions are sold on the grounds during AZL play. You can bring in your own food though.
The atmosphere at an AZL White Sox game is intimate, but not too intimate. The field that they play on has amphitheater style seating behind home plate, with concrete slabs that fans can use as seats, or you can sit on the grass close to the White Sox dugout, or you can bring your own chair, which is what most people do. The seating area has a canopy over it, so when the sun is still out in the early innings, you're protected. Most games start at 7 PM local, so there's not a lot of time you have to deal with the sun.
The White Sox sit along the third base line. There is some grassy area to sit, but you'll need to make sure you don't interfere with the various trainers and other staff members as they are driving around on carts throughout the night. The field also has a basic scoreboard in left field, which gives the line score, as well as the count.
Scouts and players that aren't playing sit behind home plate, so if you're interested, there are radar guns all over the place that you can spy on to see what the pitcher's velocity looks like. The back stop is chain link, so there's not exactly an unobstructed view of the field, but it's not like it's totally blocked out either. One thing that does stick out is the amount of foul territory on the field. That can't help some of the batting averages.
The complex itself is not located in a bustling neighborhood. On the way to the stadium along Camelback Road from the Loop 101 Fwy there are a couple of fast food restaurants, but not much else. There is an In-N-Out Burger on the east side of the 101 on Camelback, which is definitely a must for those out-of-town fans that don't usually get to enjoy it.
Located just a couple miles north on the Loop 101 is the main entertainment district in Glendale, the Westgate Entertainment District. This is probably where you'll want to grab dinner or happy hour before a night game. Any price range, any atmosphere, and any type of food: you'll find it all here.
The only White Sox fans I noticed at the game against the AZL DBacks were either wives or girlfriends of players, no actual White Sox fans. But the Diamondbacks have a little bit of a cult following that go to all of their games, and they had themselves a nice cheering section.
The facility is located on Camelback Road, about two miles west of the Loop 101 Agua Fria Freeway. You'll think you want to turn on 107th Ave, but you have to go to the light at Ball Park Blvd, which is just a little farther west than 107th.
You'll want to park in the first parking lot you can turn into, as that's where the White Sox facilities are. For some reason, a couple workers block off the road right before the parking lot entrance, so make sure not to run into their cars while driving through.
Parking is free, and there's tons of it. That's not an issue at all. The field is almost right next to the parking lot, just a short walk down the dirt path. The one bathroom is located along a small sidewalk that goes behind the team shop just a short walk past the field along the dirt path.
Everything is free. There's no extra frills everywhere like there is during Spring Training, but that's ok. AZL games are just the guts of the game for the people who attend, and that can be pretty entertaining just in itself.
The field is right next to the stream and lake, which if you need to go for a quick stroll during the game, it is the perfect place to do it with the little waterfalls providing a nice background noise.
Arizona League games are great in the simplicity in them, as long as you know what you're getting into before you go. No food, no bathrooms, no fancy giveaways. Just the game, and young players trying to make a name for themselves at the professional level.
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