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Official Review by Michael Rusignuolo, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Since 2011, all of the Cactus League teams are now in the greater Phoenix area within 45 minutes drive of one another, but only one stadium is actually in the city of Phoenix itself: Maryvale Baseball Park. Through 1997, the Brewers had spent their last decade of spring trainings in Compadre Stadium to the southeast, but the city of Phoenix's Park and Recreation Department lured the Brew Crew to the northwest of downtown with their new 9,000-seat facility in 1998. In addition to the Brewers’ Cactus League activities, the MiLB Arizona League Brewers also moved in, and the city rents out the facility for concerts and other special events.
Maryvale Baseball Park isn't going to set the world on fire, but it is a solid minor league facility hampered by bad crowds, a bad location, and a lack of any extras at all.
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 Brewers' spring home doesn't wow you with selection of either food or drink, and specialties can be pricey, but it has the basics covered with some variety.
The main concession stands are found by first base, third base, and home plate. Not surprisingly, the sausage options are covered (hot dogs, brats, and Italian, $5) as well as other ballpark standards. There is a patio area by home plate that houses specialty concessions to mix it up. The Grand Slam Grill offers fresh-grilled baskets with chips and various sausages ($8) or burgers ($10). Hank's BBQ has baskets with chips of various BBQ meat sandwiches ($10), as well as a Sausage Race Sampler ($9). T.D.'s Chicken Coop serves up baskets with chips of various chicken dishes ($8-$10), as well as a Wisconsin Fish Fry (Fridays only for Lent, $12) and cheese curds ($6.75). And there's even something healthy with Nappa Noodles ($10).
The Brewers bring the suds, along with a number of other alcohol options. The main concessions serve up drinks, and special drink carts circle the park walkway. Drafts are $8, and premium drafts are $9 (ditto for cans), and Bombers run $11. Miller (obviously) is on tap, as well as Budweiser, Blue Moon, Pacifico, Leinenkugel, Modelo, Heineken, Corona, and Killian's. More drink options include $12 Bloody Marys, $11 Titos vodka drinks and margaritas, and $8 for Henry's Hard Soda, Mike's Hard Lemonade, and Jim Beam drinks. Non-alcoholic options are part of the Coca-Cola sphere of influence, with $4.50 for a regular soda and $6 for a jumbo souvenir soda.
Eat local is always the credo, so today will be your diet cheat day. Grab a brat ($5) or a whole Sausage Race Sampler ($9) if you're feeling particularly hungry. Get a side of cheese curds ($6.75) and a Milwaukee favorite Klement's Beef Stick ($1) on the side. And wash it all down with a Miller bomber or two ($11).
Maryvale Baseball Park isn't one of the new Cactus League super-parks that would be at home in the high minors, nor is it a historic park making bank off its legacy. It is unapologetically a very fine low minor league park that does not have the bells, whistles, or gravitas of some of the other entries in the league.
The park is a standard minor league design with the entrances opening onto a promenade that circles the park above the seating bowl and houses all of the concessions and merchandise stands. One of the most expansive lawn areas in the Cactus League dominates the outfield from just beyond first, around center, to just beyond third base. The press box and luxury boxes rise above the promenade, running from dugout to dugout behind home plate. Slated shade overhangs run from the dugouts to short right and left field to give some reprieve from the sun, and a simple old-school scoreboard sits in left center to keep the fans up to date while looking out to the tree-lined backdrop beyond center field.
Serving their Spring Training crowd well, Maryvale Baseball Park's training complex is right next to the park and easily accessible by fans. Crossing the main parking lot brings you right to the facilities, with satellite fields just beyond right field. Hang around to your heart's content and then head back to get into the game. Stay on the home team first base side to grab Brewers autographs as they make their way to the dugout before the game.
While Cactus League entertainment is generally more limited than its Florida counterpart, and Bernie the Brewer doesn't make the trip into the desert, the famous Sausage Race does, and some between-innings contests also help fill the time between commercial breaks.
If you're looking for some shade, the seats at the top rows behind home plate are the way to go, and, for some reason, the rows on the visitor's third base side get some sun relief in the later innings that the home first base side do not get. For a cheap afternoon, grab a lawn seat on either side of the start of the outfield that will sit you just beyond the bases, and the lawn seats aren't a big downgrade from the bleacher benches that serve as the outfield reserved seats.
Maryvale is one of the western-most neighborhoods of Phoenix, and until recently suffered from an (earned) rough reputation. Increased police scrutiny has helped to improve the area's profile and crash the once-dizzying crime rate, but it hasn't done much yet to improve entertainment opportunities directly around the park.
The Maryvale section isn't a hotbed of culinary activity, but there is a great selection of Mexican restaurants in the area, including Tortas Paquime, Garcia's Las Avenidas, Popo's Fiesta Del Sol, and Ta'Carbon Mexican Grill. Further to the north on 60 are Little Saigon, Haus Murphy's of Glendale (German beerhall), and Kiss the Cook (southern fare), while north on 101 by the University of Phoenix Stadium is Kabuki Japanese, the Yard House (sports bar), and BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse (pub grub). And, of course, downtown Phoenix is only 15 minutes away if none of that excites you.
No matter what the neighborhood, there is golf in Phoenix, with about a half-dozen courses near the park, and the Grand Canyon University Golf Course right around the corner. For shopping needs, the Desert Sky Mall is just to the west, and the Glendale 9 Drive-In to the north offers some retro-fun. But your best bet for close-by fun is the shopping, theater, and other entertainment at the Glendale Sports and Entertainment District to the northwest (by University of Phoenix Stadium), or heading to downtown Phoenix to the southeast.
While there aren't any hotels directly around the park, there are many in the surrounding western area of Phoenix. The closest is a group of nearly a dozen hotels directly to the south on I-10, ranging from mid-range (Americas Best Value Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Inn) to more budget offerings (Budget Inn, Travelers Inn, Value Place, Crosslands, Red Roof, Super 8, Comfort Inn, Accor Motel, Travelodge, Victory Inn, Premier Inn). More tony accommodations are a short drive to the northwest off 101 near the Arizona Cardinals training facilities at University of Phoenix Stadium (Hampton Inn, Staybridge Suites, Renaissance Phoenix, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites). For a more unique stay, try the seasonal Gaslight Inn off of 60 to the northeast, for a period-refurbished 1926 hotel with modern amenities.
The Brewers weren't drawing very big in their previous home at Compadre Stadium, and unfortunately for them, the move to Maryvale hasn't improved matters very much. They regularly finish in the bottom three of attendance, and there's no indication the needle is going to move any time soon.
The dedicated snowbirds that make it down, however, are as into the game as grabbing autographs, though the biggest noise is for the Sausage Race--but you can hardly blame fans for that.
Maryvale Baseball Park is a little under two miles from both the main artery of I-10 to the south and state route 60 to the east.
Valley Metro bus lines 41 and 51 ($2/trip, $4/day pass) will get you right to the park. Greyhound has a station to the northeast, and Sky Harbor International airport is about 20 minutes to the southeast.
Parking is a league-standard $5, and the main parking lot is right between the stadium and the minor league fields. This lot fills up fast, and overflow parking goes out into the unpaved field beyond the right field practice field area. Getting in and out is generally easy given the mostly light crowds, but night games or games against the big-draw teams can result in congestion getting out, especially on the overflow lots. The tailgating traditions of the team up north at Miller Park are definitely brought south, so be careful when driving around the lot.
The main entrance to the park (Gate A) is on the first base side by the main team store and parking lot. It will definitely get backed up, but the line moves once the gates open. A faster option (and in the shade for day games) is the third base entrance (Gate B), which has much shorter lines and opens at the same time as the main entrance. There is also a Gate C near Gate B that is only open for night or other heavily-attended games.
A main promenade circles the park at the top of the seating bowl. Although adequate, it can get congested, especially when the gates open or near popular concessions. But the staff do their best to keep the lines managed and the aisle clear.
With a light drawing team in a less than marquee location, you'd expect a team to double-down on value. And the Brewers definitely do in certain areas, but they curiously don't carry that policy to all areas.
Ticket prices are definitely on the low side for the Cactus League, with top seats under $30. Seats for the extensive lawn area start at $8, outfield reserved (bleacher) seats are $14, infield reserved seats are $18, field boxes (behind the dugouts and home plate) are $24, and the first row of seats in that section are Diamond Box at $27.
Food and drink prices are hit and miss. While there are a lot of standards at $5 or under, alcohol starts at $8 and goes up to $12, and the specialty foods average at about $9-$10. Parking is a league-average $5, but the program is a pricey (though charity-sponsoring) $5.
There are not many extras in the park, one way or the other. The main merchandise stand is by the main entrance in right field, and two smaller stands are in left field and by home plate. The staff, however, is quite friendly and helpful.
Maryvale Baseball Park is a fine minor league park, but it pales in comparison to the newer or historic parks in the Cactus League, and it isn't helped by light crowds and a nothing neighborhood.
Member Review by JasonBartel on Apr 13, 2014
The Milwaukee Brewers have been holding their annual Spring Training at Maryvale Baseball Park in Maryvale, AZ since 1998. Prior to moving here, the Brewers held Spring Training at Compadre Stadium in Chandler from 1986-1997.
The 56-acre facility includes five full practice fields, two practice infields, and the main stadium. The stadium seats roughly 10,000 people (7,000 grandstand and 3,000 lawn). During the rest of the year, the facility hosts many community events, and is also home to the AZL Brewers, who are the rookie-league affiliate of the Brew Crew.
One of the main issues with the stadium is where it is located, making it not a very attractive destination for baseball fans that visit the Phoenix area each March. While the Brewers website boasts that its easy access is one of the main drawing points, that’s not really the case at all.
Member Review by ryannorris on Apr 22, 2015
Maryvale has the most friendly staff and fans in the cactus league. It's certainly a scaled-down experience, consistent with what I believe spring training games were like 20 years ago before the proliferation of the over-the-top facilities dotting the Arizona valley now. I enjoyed my experience but could see how a busier day could be problematic with foot traffic. Note: tailgating and alcohol is allowed in the $5 parking lot.
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