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Official Review by Jason Bartel, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Chicago White Sox moved their Spring Training from Tucson to Glendale in 2009 when Camelback Ranch opened its doors. They share this desert oasis with the LA Dodgers every March.
The stadium has 10,300 seats as well as room for approximately 3,000 fans in the outfield lawn area. But the stadium is just one part of the entire facility. Spanning 141 acres, Camelback Ranch is the largest complex in the Cactus League. Both the White Sox and Dodgers have their own clubhouses, as well as 12 total practice fields, and three practice infields.
Additionally, there is a five acre water feature which essentially divides the Dodger facilities from the White Sox ones. Just another thing that contributes to a great day of baseball at Camelback Ranch-Glendale.
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".
Having teams from Chicago and Los Angeles share a stadium certainly makes the food selection one of the best possible. Right away you'll notice that the main concession stands offer both Dodger Dogs and Chicago Dogs, along with Ditka sausage, bratwurst, and some other local tastes from both cities. If you're looking for a big, juicy burger, Baseline Burgers has you covered. They also offer chicken fingers and chili cheese fries.
Of course, Camelback Ranch also has plenty of Southwest cuisine available throughout the ballpark. The main Mexican stand is found down the third base line, which offers souvenir helmet nachos, street tacos, burritos, and of course margaritas.
In fact, the margaritas are from the local establishment 3 Amigos Cantina. They do a great job at Camelback Ranch, and have their own cart setup farther down the left field line for fans to enjoy.
Barro's Pizza is another local chain that has setup shop at CR-G. The pizza is found at concession stands throughout the park, and in addition to the typical cheese and pepperoni slices, they offer a "slice of the day," which adds a little more variety even if you go to Camelback Ranch several times in one Cactus League trip.
Just behind home plate on the third base side, Smoked BBQ offers all kinds of barbeque sandwiches as well as chips, peanuts, and beer to go with those sandwiches.
CR-G is a Pepsi facility, but also offers a ton of different types of beer. If you're looking for a lot of craft beers in one place, the Craft Beer Pavilion down the right field line is where you want to head. They always have at least eight different beers on tap, including some from Phoenix breweries like Four Peaks.
For $37, you can buy all-you-can-eat seats which are located above the left field bullpen. It might be a good deal if you're really hungry, and they also have shade which is nice on some of those warmer days.
Going to a game at Camelback Ranch is so much more than just going to a game. It's a full day's adventure around the entire complex.
When going to a White Sox spring training game, you'll want to park as far south as possible near that particular entrance (Black lots). The walkway over there will lead you behind the White Sox clubhouse to their practice fields, batting cages, and eventually, the center field gate to the stadium.
The White Sox players are very accessible around the practice fields, along the walkway they take to the stadium, and once they are actually on the field before the game. All fans have the ability to get right up on the backstop for batting practice, or even on some of the fields, camp out beyond the outfield wall to try and get some home run balls from those batting practice sessions.
As you go along the paths, you'll eventually hit the water feature, which separates the White Sox fields from the Dodger fields. It also leads right to the entrance gate to the stadium, and the ticket office is there as well.
When you enter through the center field gate, you immediately end up in the Center Field Courtyard. Here you'll find the main team shop, as well as some concession stands, and a radar gun setup where you can pay $2 to throw three pitches to determine how fast you can throw a baseball. You can't see any of the stadium or game from here though as it is behind the batters' eye.
When you do go around the concourse and see the stadium, you'll notice everything is tan to give it a very desert-y feel. Not only does that work with the surrounding area, but the sand-colored seats stay cooler in the sun, so when you sit down, it doesn't burn you like some other stadiums would.
The White Sox dugout is on the first base side, and their bullpen is beyond the right field wall. This works out for day games as most of the shade is on the first base side. The main scoreboard is also in right field. It shows the players who are batting, but does not show any video replays.
The sound system is consistent throughout the ballpark, which is a rarity in Cactus League parks. There are suites for fans that are in the market for that sort of thing. Also, one giveaway that happened was in the first inning when they did a hot dog giveaway. After a White Sox pitcher strikes a batter out, the PA plays an Austin Powers "yeah baby" after each one.
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 (anyone from Illinois).
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 after a day game, or a happy hour situation before a night game. Any price range, any atmosphere, and any type of food: you'll find it all here.
In March, it is completely possible to combine a White Sox game with a Coyotes game at Jobing.com Arena. It seems like the NHL schedules the Blackhawks in Glendale almost every March, which draws a huge Chicago contingent to Jobing that particular night.
For hotels, a Comfort Suites is located at the corner of the 101 and Camelback. That's the closest one, but there are more hotels closer to University of Phoenix Stadium and Jobing.com Arena.
It's interesting how well the Cubs draw compared to how the White Sox draw. Certainly for night games, Camelback Ranch is almost always sold out, but for day games, not so much. And there isn't a lot of noise coming from those fans that are there. There are a lot of people to just sit and talk baseball with, but not any kind of electricity in the air for the White Sox at Camelback Ranch.
The facility is located on Camelback Ranch 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.
There's no issue with car lines as the flow of traffic is adjusted on the road before and after games. Also, there are signs which clearly show which lane you want to be in depending on the parking lot you want to park in. For general parking for the White Sox game, take the first right available (Black lots).
Parking is free, and there's tons of it. That's not an issue at all. And there are gates and walkways leading from each parking lot. So whether you want to go straight to the stadium, or check out the rest of the facility, park in that particular lot.
The concession stands are built just slightly off the main concourse, making the food lines inconsequential when it comes to flow around the ballpark. Walking around the entire concourse at any time is never an issue. And there's plenty of handicap access throughout.
It's the most expensive ticket in the Cactus League, with lawn seats costing $11 for a weekday game, and even more for a weekend match up. Infield seating can get up to $40. And food isn't exactly cheap. The saving grace is the free parking, which a lot of places in the Cactus League don't offer anymore.
A huge extra is the free program that every fan gets upon entering the stadium. The program has the Spring roster, as well as a map of where all the concession stands are, and what each of those concession stands offer. It also has info on the surrounding area, White Sox regular season tickets information, and special coupons for local establishments.
The scenery of the entire complex deserves an extra point. Not only the river and lakes, but just the overall design, from the sand-colored seats and press box, to the trees and other desert plants found throughout the stadium and the whole campus.
The Center Field Courtyard deserves an extra. It's kind of like a secluded place within the ballpark, and can serve as a great meeting spot, or just a place to sit down and enjoy a relaxing lunch in the shade before watching the game.
One last extra for the variety and quality of food choices. You really can't go wrong with anything at Camelback Ranch.
The best thing about Camelback Ranch is its proximity to Jobing.com Arena, and how you can pull a day-night doubleheader with baseball and hockey without having to travel very far. But if you do go to either a White Sox or Dodgers Spring Training game, make sure to get there early and check out the entire complex. It really is spectacular.
Member Review by Norm
Located a mere five minutes from the University of Phoenix Stadium, the futuristic home of the Arizona Cardinals, and situated on 141 acres Camelback Ranch at Glendale (CR-G) rises from the western edge of the Phoenix Metropolitan area as almost one with the Earth. Owned and operated by the City of Glendale, CR-G was built as a testament to the Sonoran splendor of the American Southwest.
When HKS Sports Architects were given the charge to design a stadium in Glendale that would serve as the new spring training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox they set out to not only build an award-winning complex but to redefine the standard of spring training facilities. After all, everyone knew it would take a magnificent facility to replace the venerable Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida as the Dodgers spring home and the well-regarded Tucson Electric Park as the White Sox base of spring operations. I think it is safe to say, mission accomplished.
Since opening to a White Sox win over the Dodgers on March 1, 2009, CR-G has already played host to five of the ten largest crowds in Cactus League history. CR-G is equipped with 10,500 permanent seats and grass seating for over 3,000 and in no way would this stadium be considered "big-box". If you come here expecting a traditional brick stadium to rise from the desert then this stadium is not for you.
CR-G is a testament to minimalistic impact. The calmness of this facility is remarkable. From the asymmetrical angles and natural building materials present throughout, to the five-acre water feature just beyond the center field plaza which divides the campus into Dodgers and White Sox territory, Camelback Ranch is as one with the environment as a stadium can possibly be.
Member Review by Konan on Nov 12, 2013
Our group (Military Veterans) has attempted to reserve the Left Field "All You Can Eat Bullpen Patio" for the last 3 years for the annual Chicago White Sox/Cubs Game. The first year they said we had to have 25 or 50 people, even though the website says only 15. The next year, four (4) months prior to the game, we call and tell them we would like to reserve 25, and are told not a problem. Within an hour after we initially spoke we get called back and are informed that someone else has already reserved it. This year, within 24 hours of schedule release, and after the Sales Account Manager from last year (2013) told us we had first dibbs on this year (2014), we now get told that even though we are the first to contact them, that we were told by the account manager that we had them for sure in 2014, we are now told that some non-profit organization, the same that took it last year+, gets first dibbs on it again this year, and of course they want it. However, the non-profit organization does not have the money yet, even though we have all our now! You can take the White Sox out of the corruption in Chicago, but you can't take the corruption, lies, and misleading bull-crap out of the White Sox/Dodgers and this ball field. Baseball is about the little people, not corporate America who most likely is owned by foreigners. Try and remember who comes to the games, buys the tickets, the hot dogs, banners, hats, etc., which keeps these teams in business. Put corporate America and the Profit/Non-profit Execs in the glass boxes where they belong, and if there are no glass boxes have the intestinal fortitude to tell them sorry, our seats are for the fans not some company boondoogle!
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9824 W Camelback Rd
Glendale, AZ 85305