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Official Review by Jason Bartel, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The AZL Dodgers are one of two teams in the Arizona League to play their home games at Camelback Ranch. They play on a back field just across the complex’s river from the AZL White Sox. When both teams are playing a home game on the same night, you can sit on a small little hill and take in both games.
The Dodgers and White Sox share the facility year-round, as both franchises use the main stadium for their Spring Training games. In the fall, the Glendale Desert Dogs, which are run by people from both teams, play in the stadium as well.
Camelback Ranch is the largest of all the baseball complexes in the Phoenix area, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way when you have two minor league teams playing games about 50 feet apart on a regular basis.
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No concessions are sold at AZL Dodgers games, but you can bring in your own food to enjoy while watching the game.
The Dodgers definitely win the prize for most picturesque AZL setting. Not only does a river complete with mini waterfalls run along the first base line, and there's a pond right behind home plate, but the outfield wall is lined with palm trees and such to give it a very Southern California feel. The different water features result in splash hit foul balls, which is certainly unique to this field.
The location of the field within the complex provides more options as far as where you can sit. Right behind home plate are concrete slabs set up in an amphitheater style. There are also grassy areas down each base line, and there are grassy hills farther behind home plate and the Dodger dugout thanks to the pond.
The Dodgers are in the first base dugout, which is what you'll approach first when walking up to the field. Fans enter through the gate nearest the White Sox clubhouse, and take the dirt path past the White Sox' fields to get to the Dodgers area on the other side of the stream. There is a basic scoreboard located beyond the left field fence.
There's no music or announcers, but the waterfalls provide a nice background noise, and the basic sights and sounds of baseball fill in the rest. This field is all about the scenery and the baseball.
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 game. Any price range, any atmosphere, and any type of food; you'll find it all here.
The Dodgers have the largest group of fans. I would partially attribute this to one of the players on the team, Alex Verdugo, being a Tucson kid who was drafted by the club in the 2014 draft straight out of high school. A pretty sizeable chunk of the fans seemed to be related to him in some way.
But there are a lot more fans than that as well. The Dodgers have a strong following in Phoenix, so it's no surprise that they actually draw fans out to Camelback Ranch for their games. Loud cheers echo through the facility after the rookie league team does something worthwhile. It's certainly the rowdiest bunch of fans in the AZL besides perhaps the Diamondbacks.
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 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 or barriers while driving through.
Parking is free, and there's tons of it. That's not an issue at all. The field is just a short walk down the dirt path and across the stream. The one bathroom is located along a small sidewalk that goes behind the team shop, which is located behind home plate of this field (center field of the main stadium).
This field is pretty great for AZL games. You've got the scenery, you've got a loud cheering section. You're able to talk to players and coaches during the game. And it's all free. Just bring along a small dinner with you, and it is near perfection.
This will get two extras for the scenery, and the splash landing foul balls. It's kind of entertaining to watch the kids that are at the game chase down foul balls, and then when they realize that those balls are under water. Can't say that about many other baseball fields, especially in Arizona.
The Dodgers moving to Arizona has worked out for them in Spring Training and their fans probably appreciate the opportunity to see future Dodgers up-close and personal at such a nice facility. While the AZL games don't have all the bells and whistles of games in March, you may not even notice with all the other little nuances going on during these games on a side field. Not playing in the stadium was definitely the right call by both the Dodgers and the White Sox.
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