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Official Review by Jason Bartel, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Peoria Javelinas are one of six teams to play in the Arizona Fall League, who play for a little over a month in October and November in various spring training complexes in the Greater Phoenix Area. The Javelinas play at the Peoria Sports Complex, which is home to the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners in the spring, and the AZL Padres in the summer.
Peoria Sports Complex opened in 1994, and is still one of the nicer spring training complexes in the Cactus League. The Padres and Mariners are both currently leased to use it through the 2034 season. In 2012, the Javelinas are affiliated with the Padres and Mariners, as well as the Reds, Twins and Phillies, who all sent some of their most highly touted prospects to play in the Arizona Fall League.
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Peoria has only one concession stand open for AFL games right behind home plate. Since attendance for AFL games is very low compared to spring training, there is no issue with lines. There's nothing special about the food, typical ballpark food and pricing that anyone would expect at a baseball game ($3 hot dogs and sodas, $4 nachos).
Javelinas games are sort of unique when it comes to the baseball atmosphere. Since attendance is generally well below 1,000, it is a very peaceful baseball watching experience. The stadium itself is very easy on the eyes, and the field looks great. You can sit anywhere you want in the main stadium; the outfield lawn is closed off though. The sounds of the game seem to be magnified with no one in the seats. The cracks of the bat, players calling for fly balls, calls by the umpire, you can hear it all. It's a very different atmosphere than a typical professional game.
There's also the choice of sitting right next to the field and dugouts in the sun, or sitting a few rows higher up and staying in the shade, depending on your temperature preference. Most games start at 12:35 local, so the sun is definitely out the entire game. The heat doesn't get too bad though, but you are free to sit wherever and move around as much as you desire.
The scoreboard also shows the names, pictures, and the MLB affiliate of each player, which is great for learning the players' names and faces that will likely be in the majors in the near future.
Peoria Sports Complex is now connected to the Arrowhead Entertainment District, which offers tons of shopping and dining choices, all right across the street from the stadium. There is a mall, the Arrowhead Towne Center, as well as a lot of restaurants on the outside such as: Texas Roadhouse, Famous Dave's, P.F. Chang's, Cheesecake Factory, and many others. There is a Harkins Theatre just west of the main stadium parking lot, and an AMC in the mall. And finally, there is an ice skating rink, Polar Ice Peoria, just a couple blocks south on 83rd Ave.
Half of the people that show up to AFL games are scouts for all 30 MLB clubs, so there is definitely no cheering or much talking coming from behind home plate. There are very few true baseball fans at the game, and it is difficult to talk about the players because outside of one or two of the guys on the field, no one has heard of any of them. There is some chatter about spring training and the MLB postseason, but other than that it is very quiet.
Peoria Sports Complex is located just off of the Loop 101 Agua Fria Fwy at Bell Road. It is very easy to get to because it is so close to the highway. When you are on Bell, just make sure you turn south on 83rd Ave. so you can get to the parking lot that is behind home plate.
Parking is free, and there is plenty of space in the parking lot. There is only one men's and one women's bathroom open, and they are both right behind home plate. They are plenty big for the AFL crowds though and there are no lines. The only access issue I have is that to get out on to the concourse and to the seats, you have to walk a pretty good distance down the base line before there is a tunnel that takes you out to the field.
All single game tickets for the Arizona Fall League are $7. I think if the price was dropped a little bit, it would attract more people to the games. The food prices being dropped slightly would probably help this as well. Peoria does have 2 for 1 hot dogs on Tuesdays, and 2 for 1 tickets on Wednesdays. When you are going, you have to remember that it is a developmental league, so some player that you want to see might not play for very long, or even at all. AFL does a really good job of trying to give game notes for games a couple of days in advance on their website so you can better plan when you want to go.
There are programs available at all AFL games for $2, and a special scouts package available for an extra dollar. That will help if you are trying to learn your favorite MLB club's up and coming stars. They also have the names of the AFL Hall of Fame inductees from the team up on the outfield fence so you can get a sense of the talent that has come through that particular team during the AFL's 20 years. It's also pretty cool that you can sit among the scouts and hear what they have to say about certain players, or just about something going on in the world of baseball. Definitely a great place to go if you are a diehard baseball fan.
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16079 North Arrowhead Fountains Center Drive
Peoria, AZ 85382
16046 North Arrowhead Fountain Center Drive
Peoria, AZ 85345
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