The Arizona Diamondbacks have called Salt River Fields at Talking Stick their Spring Training home since 2011. They share the facility with the Colorado Rockies. When the Chicago White Sox moved from Tucson Electric Park (now Kino Stadium) to Camelback Ranch in 2009, it left the Diamondbacks and Rockies as the only teams remaining in Tucson. This forced the D-backs and Rockies to start looking for new homes, and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community gave them the best deal with a 20-year lease. The Rockies played their final season in Tucson in 2010 at Hi Corbett Field, which has now been taken over by the University of Arizona.
Salt River Fields is one of, if not the best Cactus League facility, as well as the only one built on a Native American Reservation. The capacity for the stadium is 12,800, and it has been sold out nearly every day over its history. The complex boasts 12 full-size practice fields (six for each team), state-of-the-art clubhouses and workout facilities for the teams, and is also one of the most fan-friendly stadiums in the Cactus League. It also plays home to the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the AZL Diamondbacks, and many events throughout the year.
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".
Salt River Fields has all kinds of cuisine that you could possibly want. Down the first base line is probably the most popular of all the food stands. Salty Senorita is almost its own restaurant, complete with seating with shade, and a place to stand and watch the game. The Salty Senorita sells two taco combo plates for $8, and also sells margaritas and Mexican beers.
Along the concourse you'll find: Crust (Italian food), Home Plate Hot Dogs (specialty hot dogs), 101 Cattle Co. (Grill), The Show (Traditional concessions), and Sonoran BBQ. All the meals at these are right around $8-$9, and they're all found along the main concourse near home plate.
Crust also has several stands set up along the rest of the concourse, where they sell pizza, garlic knots, and sangria.
At the general concession stands, you have your hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken strips. For meals including fries, these run around $10, and then Pepsi products are about $4-$5. Beers throughout the stadium range from $7-$12 with a couple of local brew tents set up from both Arizona and Colorado. The Colorado one is set up on the first base line, and the Arizona one is on the third base line.
In center field, there is a generic concession stand called Verde Grill, a Crust, and a Cold Stone Creamery. If you've never tried Cold Stone Creamery, you have to get some. They've got some specialty types of ice cream that are unbelievable. Again, all these stands are reasonably priced with nothing costing more than $9.
Along the main concourse you'll also find stands offering Asian food, desserts, and of course, all types of alcohol. Down the left field line you'll find the Budweiser Bow Tie, which is essentially a little beer garden area for fans that has picnic tables and a shaded area so you can escape the sun and still watch the game.
In addition to the typical concourse concession stands, there are three "party decks" up along the press box and suite level. Right above the press box is the Pepsi Patio, which gives fans a great view of the East Valley, as well as their very own concession stand. Down the first base line is the Coors Light Cold Zone, and the third base line has the Miller Lite Taste Zone. These give fans traditional seating, as well as a standing area bar. Both are very unique additions to the typical suites, which Talking Stick does have several of. But the party decks give fans a great view and a great time. The Pepsi Patio costs $20, while the other two cost $21.
Most places that offer the variety of food seen at Salt River Fields charge an arm and a leg for all of it. Well here, very few of the meal deals go up into the double digits.
No food is permitted from outside the stadium, but you can bring in sealed bottles of water and coolers.
Everything about the experience of the ballpark is fantastic. It's obvious that when they designed the stadium, fan comfort was the number one priority.
When looking out past the outfield, you get the landscape of the East Valley, which is much nicer than the West Valley with its rolling hills and untouched desert. From higher up in the seating area, you can see the traffic on the Loop 101, but it's not too obvious. The stadium itself has a very desert-y feel to it. All the walls are tan, and the seating area is a dark green. In both corners there are cactus gardens, as well as a cactus garden in the batters eye in center field. There is even more desert landscaping placed in between the clubhouses and concourse in the outfield. The stadium sort of blends in with its surroundings. There's also a three acre lake at the facility that is stocked with fish.
There are several ways to enter the stadium. Entrance gates are found behind home plate, beyond center field, and down the left and right field lines. All of the entrances are near a parking lot, but if you are coming to a Diamondbacks game, you might be better off coming in on the third base side and parking in a parking lot on the northwest side of the complex. All of the D-backs' practice fields and batting cages are on the north side of the complex, and are easily accessed from the parking lots on the north and west sides. All fans can go check out a D-back workout before a game. The major league fields are right next to the stadium, with the minor league fields a little farther away. There are batting cages and pitching mounds all over the place on the Diamondback side, which really allows for up-close viewing of all the players.
All of the Diamondback facilities are on the third base side, including their dugout, their bullpen, their practice fields, batting cages, and their main clubhouse and workout rooms. Both clubhouses are very prominent parts of the stadium architecture, with the Rockies down the right field line and the Diamondbacks down the left field line. Each team also has its own team shop attached to these buildings, and a joint team shop in center field next to that entrance and ticket booth.
The bullpens are both in foul territory, so there is maximum room for lawn seating at SRF. The stadium is sunk into the ground too, which makes room for tons of fans who want to sit in the outfield. The main seating area is split up into two parts, a lower and an upper bowl. These seats are very comfortable, have tons of legroom, and all have cup holders. Also, the seats get right down to field level, giving you a different view of the game if you are lucky enough to get a front row seat.
If you're looking to stay out of the sun, higher up along the first base side is probably better for you. But the stadium does have an enormous shade structure built along the top of it which helps provide shade to a lot of the seating areas. The facility also has free sunscreen dispensers around the outfield concourse.
The scoreboard is in left field. It's interesting. It's one big TV screen, giving you the line score, the current batting lineups for both teams constantly, as well as last year's regular season stats for the batter and pitcher. There's a lot going on, and some of the text is a little too small to see clearly if you are sitting behind home plate. But the screen itself is very clear, and you can even see it when the sun is shining directly on it. It also shows video at certain points during the game.
Salt River Fields is located right next to The Pavilions at Talking Stick, which is a shopping center that has a couple of chain restaurants and stores in it, and also has Ultra Star Cinemas. Filiberto's is great if you're looking for some good, cheap Mexican food. You could also check out YC's Mongolian Grill if you're in the mood for some Asian food.
New to the area is a Buffalo Wild Wings, located at the corner of Pima and Indian Bend. I'm a big fan of BWW, and that addition really adds to the options that are available in the immediate area.
Across the Loop 101 from the baseball complex is Talking Stick Resort and Casino. The resort features a hotel, as well as a spa and a golf course, which everyone can make an entire day out of. On the north side of the stadium, you can find Ventura Grill, which has happy hour M-F from 3-6, and live music on Friday nights.
Just north of the resort and casino is Butterfly Wonderland which is America's largest butterfly atrium. It has a 3D Theater, various insect displays, and a small aquatic animal area as well. So if you're looking for something a little different, it would be worth checking out.
For Spring Training, the City of Scottsdale offers a free trolley service, which has several stops in between the stadium and Downtown Scottsdale. This makes it fairly easy for fans to check out Old Town and a baseball game at Talking Stick in the same day without having to worry about traffic and parking.
Obviously the Diamondbacks should draw well, because they're playing about 20 miles from Chase Field. But the quality of the park keeps bringing the Arizona faithful out to Spring Training year-in and year-out. Every player gets a huge ovation before every at bat. Even former Diamondbacks get nice cheers from the crowd. Normal chants and things that you would hear at a regular season game are always heard during Spring Training. There are a select number of teams that have a home field advantage in Cactus League play, and the Diamondbacks are certainly one of those teams.
Not only are the fans friendly and knowledgeable, but so is the staff. Everyone is so helpful, and always has a smile on their face. That really adds to the overall experience as well.
The Salt River Fields complex is located just west of the Loop 101 Pima Fwy at the Indian Bend Rd. Exit. You could also take the Pima Rd. or Via de Ventura exits if you are coming from the north.
There are plenty of parking lots at the facility. There is a parking lot right off of Pima Rd. just north of Indian Bend, or you could park at either the Diamondbacks or Rockies facility, or even drive all the way around the complex and park past center field. All of these parking lots cost $5, it just depends on where you're sitting to figure out where you should park. For Diamondback games, the north parking lot or the main parking lot is ideal if you do go early and get the chance to see the team take batting practice and warm up on the practice fields before the game. All of the D-back facilities are on the north half, but parking at the movie theatre or Target at the Pavilions is also an option, and free. The movie theatre is literally right across the street, so it's not too long of a walk.
There is a free spring training trolley that the City of Scottsdale offers. It connects to Downtown Scottsdale, but also runs its own route from the Scottsdale Resort and Chaparral Suites Resort all the way up to The Pavilions and stadium, as well as continuing on to the Talking Stick Resort and Golf Club.
The ease of moving around the stadium during a game is great. The main concourse runs above all of the seating areas, and goes completely around the stadium. In the infield there's also a lower concourse which splits up the two levels of seating. The lower concourse also takes you out to the cactus gardens down each line, as well as the Salty Senorita on the first base line and the Budweiser Bow Tie on the third base side.
The concourses don't get filled up by concession stand lines or restroom lines because they all have their own separate standing area away from where everyone else is walking. Just another little added thing in the design that keeps the feel of the stadium more open and free. The main concourse is also opened up to the playing field, so you'll never miss any of the action while walking around.
Also setup along the concourse and down each baseline are small ledges for people to stand and eat right along the seating area. Something so small can make such a huge difference.
Single game spring training tickets at Salt River Fields cost anywhere from $9-$28, but no matter where you sit, Salt River Fields is a great experience. The entire complex is one of those things you have to experience if you are a baseball fan, and the $5 parking with a $10 ticket and reasonably priced food is well worth the money. The entire complex is that good, not just the stadium. If you're coming to Arizona for Spring Training, Salt River Fields is a must.
Prior to the game, the Diamondbacks come down the third base line and sign autographs for fans that are down there waiting for them. They also stop and sign autographs when they are done with their workouts on the major league practice fields in the morning. And everyone can go down and try and get autographs, not just people with tickets for that area.
The practice fields and batting cages being so accessible is another bonus point. If you're going to go to an MLB game that doesn't actually count with a lot of minor leaguers in the game in the late-innings, make the game into an entire day event. It's interesting to check out what the best guys do to improve their craft.
The separate team shops in each outfield corner are a nice bonus too. A lot of teams that share facilities cram all of their merchandise into one little room behind home plate. The Rockies and Diamondbacks have a great set up with their clubhouses having that little extension, giving them each their own retail space. If you're going to a Diamondback game to cheer for the D-backs, you don't want to have to go through a bunch of Rockies merchandise too. You don't have to here. There's also a specific Salt River Fields at Talking Stick merchandise table set up directly behind home plate.
In addition to these outfield team shops, fans can find free sunscreen. Given the lack of shade options in the seating area, the free sunscreen can certainly be of great need to some of the patrons.
The Party decks and Pepsi Patio are a nice extra too. For not a lot of money, you get great seats, and essentially your own private amenities. That seems like the best way to take in a Diamondback game in March.
One last extra for the overall decoration of the stadium and the area around it. The fully stocked pond, the desert theme both inside and outside of the park. The cactus gardens in the park really add a nice touch to the feel of the stadium, and the overall look. And they're just part of the handicap ramp to get from the upper to the lower concourse, so it's not like they're taking away from potential seating.
Since it opened, Salt River Fields has been my favorite park to visit in all of Arizona, and it ranks right up there with some of the best stadium experiences in the world. I don't think there's one thing that you could find wrong in the game day experience. It's unbelievable how fan-friendly everything is, how affordable it is, and how much fun it is to spend the day with the Diamondbacks or with the Rockies.
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is the new (in 2011) spring training facility for both the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Prior to the 2011 season, both teams had facilities in Tucson, AZ. The move north by these teams brings the entire Cactus League to the Phoenix, AZ area.
“Salt River Fields” alerts baseball fans that they are visiting the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
”Fields” refers to the 12 practice fields located within the facility and also the Community’s rich agricultural history.
”Talking Stick” is a historical reference to the traditional Pima calendar stick on which carvers recorded historical events and milestones.
9120 E Indian Bend Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85250
9090 E Indian Bend Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85250
9150 E Indian Bend Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85258
9180 E Indian Bend Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85258
9800 East Indian Bend
Scottsdale, AZ 85256
9500 E Vía de Ventura
Scottsdale, AZ 85256
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