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Official Review by Jason Bartel, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The San Diego Padres have been holding Spring Training at Peoria Sports Complex for 20 years now. They have shared the facility with the Seattle Mariners every February and March since the complex was built in 1994. It was the very first complex to be shared by two Major League teams. That is now the norm in the Cactus League, with only a few clubs having their own facilities. Both the Padres and Mariners are leased to stay in Peoria through 2034.
The Padres also use the complex for year-round conditioning and rehab for all of the organization’s players, both major and minor-leaguers. The Padres rookie league team, the AZL Padres, also plays home games at Peoria Sports Complex in the summer, and an Arizona Fall League team, the Peoria Javelinas, uses it in October and November. The stadium seats 11,000+ for baseball.
The facility has 12 full-sized baseball practice fields for the Padres and Mariners to utilize throughout the year, and it is also used to host various local baseball tournaments. Concerts and trade shows are held on the grounds during the year as well.
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".
There is certainly no shortage of food options at Peoria. Even the regular concession stands have a huge variety of food at them. Home Plate Grill is located right behind home plate as the name suggests, and offers hot dogs, Pepsi products, Budweiser products, hamburgers, chips, fries, Philly cheesesteaks, and chicken fingers. There are also several regular concession stands near it that offer the more basic concessions. A hot dog meal, which includes chips and a drink, is just $5, probably the best value of all the items at the stadium.
Tents are set up along the outfield walkway as well as some spots in the infield where there are even more food options. Down the left field line, there is the "All You Can Eat Zone", where anyone can upgrade their tickets for $15 to be in the all-you-can-eat section. A really good value for those who come to the game starving.
Down the right field line, the Kona VIP Deck is set up, where there is a Kona bar, and shaded seating which is open to everyone. It's a good place to get out of the sun for a while if you are sitting on the lawn in the outfield.
Other options include a taco booth that has all kinds of tacos, a barbeque tent out in left-center field, and a fry bread stand in right-center field. There are also small concession tents and beer tents and carts throughout the rest of the concourse. No matter where you are, there is always food and drink nearby. Even the club seating and suites have their own snack bars up on the second level behind home plate.
Fans can also bring their own water into the stadium.
Spring Training games are always so relaxed, just a bunch of people taking in America's pastime.
Since the Padres and Mariners have similar colors, it makes it easy for Peoria to make the stadium feel like home for both teams. The Padres offices are the main backdrop when looking out past the outfield, as they are located just beyond the walkway in right field. Far off in the distance are some mountains, but Peoria is the more flat area of Phoenix. The infield bleachers face out to the north east, so if you're looking for shade during a day game, you will want to sit somewhere down the first base line, probably in the upper section.
The main gate to enter is right behind home plate, right where the parking lot and ticket office are located. You can't get out to the seating area from right behind home plate because it does have the main concession stand and restrooms right there. The seats themselves are comfortable, and some of them do have cup holders. Farther down the outfield lines are metal bleachers instead of the typical seats found in the rest of the main seating area.
The seating area doesn't really get too close to the field, giving the fielders tons of foul territory to make a play. When sitting out in the outfield lawn area, you can sit right up against the fence. The lawn is an almost universal feature at Cactus League stadiums, allowing fans the opportunity to lay out in the sun for a few hours for not too much money. There are suites and club level seating available if that's what you're looking for.
The Padres dugout and bullpen are both on the first base/right field side, while the visiting team uses the Mariners dugout and bullpen on the third base line. The left field bullpen has more lawn seating around it than the right field one does because the batting cage is stored next to the right field bullpen. The scoreboard is out in left field. It has a video board with player names and stats, as well as the baseball basics. The video board is nice for those Spring Training games where a whole bunch of guys are in the game that you've never heard of before.
There is some in-game entertainment, including a race between a corn dog, tater tot and soda sponsored by Sonic. Tons of ads along the outfield wall are a little distracting, but not too bad. Overall the park has a really good feel and look to it.
Peoria Sports Complex is located across 83rd Ave. from a decently sized shopping center, Arrowhead Fountain Center, which includes many restaurants, shops, and a Harkins Theatre. Some of the food options include Buca di Beppo, Cheesecake Factory, Elephant Bar, PF Chang's, and Abuelo's, among others.
Just south on 83rd Ave. is Polar Ice Peoria, an ice skating rink that has been around for a while. Going east on Bell there are more chain restaurants like Applebee's and Red Lobster. Just east of the stadium on Paradise is Salty Señorita. There are two Salty Señorita locations, the Peoria one, and one near the Giants Spring Training complex in Scottsdale. If you go to their website you can find out about deals they have associated with Cactus League games.
If you're looking for shopping options, Arrowhead Towne Center is for you, located on Bell Ave. just east of 83rd Ave.
I would say most fans that go to spring training know a lot about baseball, and are going to an exhibition baseball game just for fun and to see some of the game's best up close and personal. The Padres fans at Spring Training games are not a rowdy bunch by any means. A lot of people are just there for the experience and to take in the sights and sounds of baseball. They do average over 4,000 fans a game, which is a pretty good number considering there are up to 8 Cactus League games every day.
Peoria Sports Complex is just east of the Loop 101 Agua Fria Fwy in between the Thunderbird and Bell exits. The parking lot entrance is on 83rd Ave., which runs right next to the Loop 101. Parking costs $5, but it seemed like there was plenty of parking, and the parking lot is connected to the stadium. There is also some parking out beyond the outfield if you are coming from the east on surface streets. From 75th Ave., you take Paradise Ln., which is just south of Bell.
When you enter from behind home plate, you have to walk down either line a little bit to find a tunnel to the seating area. There is the outer concourse, which will take you to all the concession areas, or you can walk along the inner concourse, which goes all the way around the stadium. Both concourses lead out to the outfield walkway. The right field path has a bridge that goes over the batting cage storage area and team bus parking area.
It's really easy to get anywhere you want in the stadium. The concession lines stay pretty short for the most part, and nothing clogs up either walkway. Everything is very accessible. Getting into the stadium is nice and smooth, and moving around the stadium is the same way.
Tickets range anywhere from $7 for the outfield lawn to $28 for an infield box seat. All tickets that are in the main seating area with normal chairs cost at least $20. If you come on a day where there aren't too many people, it is pretty easy to move to a better seat.
Parking costs $5, which isn't too bad, and then the food prices are relatively cheap. The best food value is the hot dog meal, where you get a bag of chips and soda with your hot dog for $5. Most of the traditional ballpark items are fairly reasonable though, anywhere from $5-$8, and then the more unique foods being somewhere from $7-$9. I think Spring Training games are always the best to attend because it gives you the opportunity to see some of your favorite players up-close for a lot less than it would cost to go to a regular season game.
The food tents set up around the entire stadium get some extra points for Peoria. Everyone has the option to do the all-you-can-eat section in left field, as well as the ability to sit in the shaded Kona VIP Deck in right field. The fans in the outfield have it better as far as food choices go because the more exotic foods are all found out in the outfield somewhere.
There are two pitching stations set up for fans, where kids and adults alike can pay $1 for the chance to throw three pitches and have them read by a radar gun. Also, game programs and lineups are just $1, which is very helpful for the later innings when the prospects are getting into the game and the really high numbers on the jerseys start showing up.
The ability to see the Padres practice before their games is also an option, with the practice fields located almost right next to the stadium down the right field line. Overall, going to Peoria for the day to take in some Spring Training is just a great experience.
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8011 W Paradise Ln
Peoria, AZ 85382
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