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Official Review by Jason Bartel, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Opened in 1998, Maryvale Baseball Park is the home of the AZL Brewers, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Rookie League affiliate. The stadium has been home to Brewers Spring Training and the AZL team since opening in Phoenix’s west side.
The stadium has a capacity of 7,000 plus seating in the outfield berm to allow for up to 10,000 people to attend Brewers spring training. When not in use for the Brewers, the facility hosts a lot of amateur baseball leagues, and is also available for rent to the community for various activities.
The entire complex spans 56 acres, including five practice fields, two practice infields, the main stadium, and 2,000 parking spaces. For AZL though, just the stadium and a very small chunk of parking spaces are needed.
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".
No food is served at Maryvale Baseball Park during the AZL season. However, you are more than welcome to bring in your own food and drink. There are several picnic tables in the outfield grass seating area, or you can just eat at your seat in the infield.
All Arizona League games typically start at 7 PM local time, so the sun and heat are not really an issue for the fans or the players. The one gate that is open is along the first base line, right next to where the main parking lot is.
With the very low attendance of AZL games, fans are welcome to go and sit wherever they want. The entire concourse is open for wandering around during the game, including the entire outfield walkway. The seats in the infield have backs but no cup holders. Beyond the bases, the seats are just typical bleacher seats. The lawn seating is much larger than most stadiums in the Phoenix area. The lawn begins at each bullpen and spans the entire outfield wall. Along the outfield, trees are planted to block out the surrounding area, and makes the ballpark feel very secluded even though it is right behind a shopping center.
The Brewers' dugout and bullpen are both on the third base side, with the visitors sitting on the first base side. The scoreboard is beyond the left field wall, and is almost fully functional during the AZL season. The one thing that is missing is the players' names being displayed, which is sort of disappointing since the Brewers do not have their names on the back of their jerseys. In between innings, there is music played, but no PA announcer during the game to announce who's hitting.
Maryvale Baseball Park is located in a residential neighborhood on the west side of Phoenix, so there's not a lot going on near the ballpark as far as entertainment is concerned. Right next to the stadium is a shopping center which includes a Wendy's, Panda Express, and Subway. China City Super Buffet is also nearby, as well as Peter Piper Pizza, Golden Nugget and Sizzler.
A few miles east of the area is Desert Sky Mall. It is the closest shopping mall to Maryvale. Next to the mall is a concert venue that is constantly changing names. In 2013 it was renamed Ak-Chin Pavilion. The Pavilion has a higher concert capacity than Jobing.com Arena and US Airways Center. It hosts huge acts every summer including Warped Tour, Keith Urban, John Mayer, Jason Aldean and a lot more.
The nearest hotels are south of the stadium near I-10. Most of the major hotel chains have a hotel at the 51st Ave. exit at I-10. Also close by is Grand Canyon University, which starting in 2013-14 will move up all of their sports to Division I. This will make Brewers Spring Training in March more interesting with GCU baseball going on at the same time, but won't really have an effect on the AZL Brewers.
Not very many people go to Arizona League games, and playing them in big stadiums like Maryvale makes it sort of an eerie experience if you've never gone before. There's definitely no chanting or a lot of fan noise during AZL games. It seemed like most of the "fans" there were family members of players or Major League scouts.
To get to Maryvale Ballpark, the easiest way is to take I-10 to 51st Ave. and go north. But if you're coming from the north, take either I-17 or Loop 101 Agua Fria Fwy and take the Indian School exit. The stadium is located near the corner of 51st Ave. and Indian School. It's about a two mile drive from I-10 to the stadium.
The parking lot for the Arizona League season is just off of 53rd Ave., which you have to get on at Indian School. Parking is free, and is just outside the one gate that is open during these games. The entire concourse is open to walk around, but the only bathrooms that are open are located right next to the entrance gate. Handicap access is very easy because the concourse is at ground level with all of the seating below it. There is no security or gate check, just walk right in.
There are Valley Metro bus stops at Indian School and 53rd Ave. All day passes for all Valley Metro buses and the light rail in Downtown Phoenix are $4.
The game is free, and parking is free. Plus you can bring your own dinner with you and eat it during the game. If you're in the area, and are looking for somewhere to hang out and watch a little baseball, then this is for you. There are six Arizona League games every night Monday-Saturday, so chances are if you're in the Phoenix area, there's a game close to you. And all AZL games are free.
This is a very basic baseball experience, nothing flashy going on, and the stadium is very basic as well.
If you're a Brewers fan and are planning on going to Phoenix to see their Spring Training facilities, do it during spring training and not for Arizona League. Arizona League is much more for the players than the fans, and is really not worth it unless you are a local who is looking for some pro ball that is not the Diamondbacks during the summer.
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