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Official Review by Jason Bartel, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Peoria Sports Complex is probably the busiest out of all the various professional baseball complexes found throughout the Phoenix area. In addition to hosting both the AZL Padres and Mariners, both teams play their Spring Training games at the main stadium, and the Peoria Javelinas play in the stadium during Arizona Fall League play.
The complex is also home to international teams from Japan, Korea and China during the spring months.
In addition to the baseball, Peoria is home to Phoenix’s only professional soccer team, Arizona United SC. There are also concerts, car shows, and so much more going on at the complex throughout the year.
The AZL Padres play on the primary side field, which is located right next to the Padres’ clubhouse and training facilities. You’ll find it beyond the right field fence of the main stadium, and it is the best way to host Arizona League games.
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".
Peoria may be the only place that has concessions available during AZL games. On fields next to the Padres are youth teams and other things all the time, so a concession stand is open next to the left field foul pole of the Padres' field. The concession stand offers your basic baseball fare (hot dogs, nachos, soda, peanuts, candy), all for anywhere from $2-$4. The concession stand is also where the bathrooms are located.
There is also a snow cone truck parked next to the concession stand, offering frozen treats for those looking to cool off on a summer evening. Fans can also bring their own food with them to an AZL Padres game.
It's easiest to get to the field by walking through the Padres parking lot, which is right next to the team's main building. When you get to the field, there are two metal bleachers, one next to each dugout, and some grass seating area down the third base line just past the Padre bullpen. There you can set up a camping chair or something instead of sitting in the bleachers. The bigger bleachers on the third base side have a shade structure, which protects fans from the sun early in the game. Most AZL games start at 7 PM local, so the sun's not out for long.
The backstop is chain link, but all along the bottom behind home plate it is solid wall, so you can't see any game action from right behind home plate, which is sort of disappointing. The bleachers are right on top of the action though, and some of the players that aren't playing that night join the fans in the bleachers.
No scoreboard on this particular Peoria field. If you have a smartphone, I'd recommend pulling up the live gamecast on milb.com during the game so you at least know what inning the game is in. The Padres do have their last names on their jerseys, so fans are able to identify the players even without a scoreboard. No announcers and music too, obviously.
Peoria has so much to do. There are tons of restaurants, and one of the better bars, Salty Seńorita, is right next to the Padres' field. You can find the Peoria location's menu here.
But there's a lot to do all along 83rd Ave. and Bell. Just a few choices are Tilted Kilt, Elephant Bar, Cucina Tagliani, Famous Dave's, Texas Roadhouse, On the Border, Sweet Tomatoes, and so many more restaurants. And all of these restaurants are walkable to the field to watch the Padres after enjoying a nice dinner or happy hour.
Add to that a couple of movie theaters with the Harkins on 83rd Ave. and the AMC theaters on Bell in the Arrowhead Towne Center, and you've got yourself a full evening to go with the baseball. Every cuisine, every shop, every price level is found all within a mile of Peoria Sports Complex.
As far as hotels, Hampton Inn, Residence Inn, La Quinta, and Comfort Suites are all located in the immediate area as well.
Really, you can't go wrong by spending the day just in this area of Peoria before and after a Padres game.
There were more fans at the AZL Padres vs AZL Dodgers game I went to than I have seen at any other Arizona League game. It wasn't a ton of people, and it may have had to do with San Diego Padres player Yonder Alonso rehabbing that particular night, but it was impressive to see the turnout at Peoria. The fans that were there would cheer when the Padres did something, and even interact with the players that were sitting on the bench outside of the actual dugout.
Peoria Sports Complex is located just off the Loop 101 Agua Fria Fwy at the Bell Rd. exit. From there, just two blocks down 83rd Ave. brings you right to the stadium. To get back to the Padres field, you'll turn onto Paradise Lane off of 83rd, and that takes you right to all the parking lots.
You'll want to park close to the Padres' main building, as that's the easiest way to get to the field. Just walk through the Padres' parking lot and that'll take you right to the main set of bleachers. The bathrooms are located in the concession stand near the left field foul pole.
As is the case with all of the AZL games, everything is free. Except here, you can either bring your own food, or purchase cheap food at their concession stand. The seating area is perfect with the two sets of bleachers, but the inability to sit behind home plate, and the lack of a scoreboard are what hurt. But if you have your phone, you can at least counteract one of those two issues.
The extra goes to the area around Peoria Sports Complex. It's not overstating when saying that no matter what you're in the mood for, you'll find it within walking distance of the ballpark. There's even ice skating at AZ Ice Peoria.
While the on-field product for the Padres has suffered in recent years, it seems that the organization does fan experience at all levels the right way, even at the AZL level. Eugene, Fort Wayne, Lake Elsinore, San Antonio and now El Paso, are all great spots to see a game, and in its own way, Peoria is right up at the top as far as an AZL game goes. And of course Petco Park is one of the best in Major League Baseball.
Peoria is definitely the place to go during the summer if you're looking for a fun night and free baseball.
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8011 W Paradise Ln
Peoria, AZ 85382
8408 W Paradise Ln
Peoria, AZ 85382