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Official Review by Gary Herman, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Goodyear Ballpark is the home of Spring Training baseball for the Cincinnati Reds who joined the Cactus League in 2010 after leaving Sarasota, Florida where they trained for a number of years. The ballpark is also the spring home for the Cleveland Indians who moved there in 2009 from Winter Haven, Florida. The Indians previously trained in Arizona from 1947-1992. The ballpark holds up just over 10,000 people which includes 8,000 seats, 1,500 lawn seats, six suites and 500 premium seats on the party deck in right field.
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".
Since the surrounding area around the ballpark is a work in progress, eating at the ballpark may be your best option if you're hungry. With that being said, they offer a wide variety of food selections for you to choose from.
They have standard fare including ballpark staple hot dogs, but they have a diverse twist to them. They've created specialty versions that you can choose from at their Hot Dog Nation stand. For example, they have jumbo dogs for $5.25 that are topped with local toppings from different regions such as Arizona, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland and New York. They also have a cart that sells Skyline Coney Dogs for $4.25 and a Giant Dog that comes with Chili Cheese for $7.75.
In addition, they have other stands that serve burgers, grilled chicken and chicken tender baskets that come with fries that range from $7.75-$10. They also serve bratwurst and Italian sausage for $6.75. You can get tacos & burritos for $8. It's $10 to get chips and queso (cheese) with them. Nachos are $4. Pizza is another option, and you can get either cheese or pepperoni for $5.
If those aren't to your liking, you can try out their specialty items such as a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich for $8 or they have Beer Battered Arizona Honey Wheat Fish & Chips for $8. Another unique item is their sweet potato fries for $5.50.
If you're health conscious, they have a cart that sells a salad of the day along with a wrap of the day for $7 each.
As for beverages, they have premium and domestic beer on draft and/or in bottles. You will also find Coke products that range from $3.75-$5. In addition, they have Jamba Juice for $5.
Be sure to check out the special stands out in left field that make fresh cut potato chips, funnel cakes and kettle corn.
It was a nice relaxing experience. The crowd consisted of people of various ages, young and old. They were well behaved and they were knowledgeable. In particular, the people who were sitting right in front of me and around me we're talking baseball of different eras which made me feel like baseball was really back even if the game didn't count or mean anything in the standings so to speak.
Surprisingly there was no loud music blasting through the sound system during the game either which made the game even more enjoyable to watch.
This area of Arizona is under going a major development project. In due time the surrounding area by the ballpark will have restaurants, offices and a hotel/conference center as well as residential housing. At this point though, your best bet is to eat at the stadium, or drive far enough that it wouldn't really be considered to be a part of the Goodyear Ballpark "neighborhood."
People who attend Cincinnati Reds spring training games are very diverse. You get baseball fans of teams from all over the country. Here they have two teams, the Indians and Reds so people from Ohio can see their favorite team play. In addition, tourists like to come visit, soak in the sun and the scenery of the West.
The ballpark is located 20 miles west of downtown Phoenix on I-10, exit 127 Bullard Avenue. In order to get to the ballpark, you need to go two and a half miles south and the ballpark will be on your right side. You just pull right into the parking lot which costs $5 for cars and $10 for recreational vehicles.
Since the ballpark is located in the suburbs you need a car in order to get there which can be a drawback for someone who doesn't drive.
If you're spending time in the state of Arizona, you get instant gratification. The weather is always gorgeous during this time of the year so you don't have to worry about rain delays. Ticket prices are pretty reasonable for the experience you get. They range from $8 to $30 depending on where you want to sit.
There's a team store behind home plate so you can purchase souvenirs to remember your visit.
They also have a kid's zone by first base where kids can run amok before the game.
They have a designated driver program which is located at the guest services booth which also has free sheets of paper with the rosters of the players for the teams that are playing.
They have a special patio area called the right field pavilion where you can get all you can eat and watch the game for $30. Given the lack of eateries in the surrounding area, this may be a perfect way for families to cut cost and see the game together.
If for some reason you need to go back to your car for something, you can get your hand stamped so you can re enter the ballpark.
You can follow all of Gary Herman's journeys at Royalty Tours USA.
Photos courtesy of Graham Knight of Baseball Pilgrimages.
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