2014 was the last season the Oakland Athletics held their Spring Training games at Phoenix Municipal Stadium (known as Phoenix Muni to locals) after spending over 30 years there. The Athletics will move their spring training games to HohoKam Stadium in Mesa, AZ in 2015.
Phoenix Muni opened its gates in 1964 for San Francisco Giants spring training games. Besides the Giants and the Athletics (beginning the 1982 season), it has also hosted the Phoenix Firebirds (former AAA team of the SF Giants). The ASU Sun Devils will begin play at this stadium in the 2015 season, moving from Packard Stadium.
It was renovated in 2003 which included more comfortable seating, better access to concessions and team shops, and created private indoor suites and a covered patio suite.
One point of note is when the New York Giants moved from the Polo Grounds in New York to San Francisco, they brought with them the light poles for Muni, and they still stand today.
Like its parent club, the Athletics spring training is more about the baseball than any other frills or gimmicks. It continues to be just basically baseball which, for this author, is quite refreshing.
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".
Your standard ballpark fare is here: dogs, burgers, peanuts, pizza, pretzels. A Division Champs Combo which includes a big dog, a beer/soda, and a small bag of peanuts is $13.75. Pepsi is the soda provider at Phoenix Muni.
Other options include BBQ pork sandwiches, nachos, pizza, foot long dogs, corn dog, nachos grande, and Asian noodles ranging from $3 - $8. Standard beer options include Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Coors Light, etc. There are two Angelo's Italian ice/gelato carts on the concourse.
There are several craft brew carts throughout the concourse so be sure to check those out if standard domestic beer is not your preference, though they can be pricey at $11.00.
Vendors parade the stadium stands and offer snacks such as churros, sno cones, ice cold beer, and lemonade among others.
Specialty items include Honeybear's BBQ sandwich $8 and Loco Patron Chicken Tacos $8. I was told Honeybear's BBQ sandwich is pretty bad (dry), at least at the game I attended. Perhaps it was just a bad batch.
The third base line concourse offers a nice spot to get some food and beverage with picnic tables in which to enjoy your nourishment. It has Blue Moon ($10.00) and Coors Light (other concessions are available as well).
It appears most concessions are cash only.
Since Phoenix Muni is one of the oldest ballparks in the Cactus League (Spring Training in AZ), it has lots of history. And that will continue when the ASU Sun Devils arrive in 2015.
Historical events are etched in the concourse floor. Most folks ignore them or don't realize they are there. Do take the time to stroll around the concourse and read the etched messages in the floor to learn about the history this stadium offers.
There are banners honoring individuals who have been recognized in the MLB Hall of Fame as well as the World Series championships of the Oakland Athletics. Will these be replaced by the many retired numbers of ASU ballplayers?
If you want to sit in the shade (recommended on those hot AZ spring days) choose upper box seats above row four for tickets. Most seats are the traditional plastic green fold down variety. Bleachers with backs are in the outfield.
The scoreboard is small and hard to read; it provides minimal information: balls, strikes, outs, hits, runs, errors. Bring binoculars if you care about reading the scoreboard. The music volume level is absolutely fine during the game allowing fans to talk with their neighbors vs. yelling at them.
The bullpens are on the field beyond the first and third bases.
There are beautiful geological formations of Papago Park beyond the left field.
Watching a game here is about baseball. Not the other stuff. That said, there are a few promotions and giveaways during the game.
There's still not much to see or do walking distance from the arena. There is the:
• Phoenix Zoo (about ˝ mile from stadium)
• Desert Botanical Gardens (about 1 mile from stadium)
Both are worthwhile visiting before or after the game (the zoo closes at 5pm so that might be a better pregame visit).
There are minimal local or chain restaurants within walking distance. There's a Ladybug Café, a Starbucks, a Filiberto's Mexican Restaurant, and Samis Gyros all ˝ mile from the stadium.
The Phoenix area does offer nine other spring training venues as well as a plethora of other attractions to see and do.
Downtown Tempe, AZ is only two or three miles from the stadium and there are plenty of entertainment and restaurant options there.
One just has to admire Athletic fans for following their team even though the current ownership does not appear interested in investing in the team or their regular season stadium.
The fans are engaged, respectful, energizing, easy to talk with and very knowledgeable of their team and the game. They are helpful when asking questions about the play at hand and/or Athletics information. And they are passionate even booing an appealed call that didn't go their favor.
Attending an Athletics game is worth it regardless of the venue in which the team is playing because of the fabulous fans.
If you have a fear of heights (like this author does) then you will have trouble. The parking lot is across a four-lane street. One must walk across a bridge to get to the stadium. If you do have a fear of heights, try the light rail or have a friend drop you off on the stadium side of the street. Handicapped parking is available on the stadium side of the venue so no difficulties for those folks.
There is a light rail station ˝ mile from the stadium - Valley Metro's Light Rail. There are bus routes available as well.
Plenty of bathrooms are available and they are clean with a minimal wait after the game. There is ample seat and leg room in the seating areas.
The concourse does get crowded during the game making strolling through them a chore. We'll see how that translates when ASU occupies the facility.
Tickets range from $12 - $24 for a spring training game. If you live in the area, the Oakland Athletics also offer some season ticket packages as well as 10-game packages.
The food prices seem high to me.
Getting to a stadium to see a game where the game is more the focus than the other promotions is always a plus. And watching the last season the Athletics played in the venue is worth the expense.
Do check out a game here when the ASU Sun Devils take the field in 2015.
Watching a game at Phoenix Muni is about the baseball being played on the field.
The definition of a fan is a person(s) who is enthusiastically devoted to something. I'll give the Athletic fans a few extra points as they are not only devoted they are passionate and they deserve some credit.
Also notable is the history that is displayed throughout the stadium, including the light poles from the Polo Grounds and the etchings on the floor of the concourse.
This is a final farewell to Phoenix Muni as a superb venue in which to watch an Athletics spring training game. It's a bit sad as it is a great ballpark.
A future review will see if the ASU Sun Devils provide the same presence and experience.
Phoenix Municipal Stadium (known as Phoenix Muni to locals) opened its gates in 1964 for a San Francisco Giants spring training game. It hosted the Phoenix Giants (former AAA team of the SF Giants), and is now the spring training facility for the Oakland Athletics as well as hosts the Phoenix Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League.
It was renovated in 2005 which included more comfortable seating, better access to concessions and team shops, and created private indoor suites and a covered patio suite.
Like its parent club, the Athletics, spring training is more about the baseball than any other frills or gimmicks. It is just basically baseball which, for this author, is quite refreshing.
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