There are two certainties for the month of March in the Phoenix metropolitan area - 90 degree temperatures and Cactus League baseball. Over the past 65 years, Spring Training baseball has become a staple of the Valley sports scene and with recent additions from the Grapefruit League, there are now fifteen teams housed in ten stadiums across the greater Phoenix area.
One of the most popular destinations - and certainly the one with the greatest "place to be" factor - is Scottsdale Stadium, the spring home of the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants. Originally constructed in 1992 with renovations in 2005, Scottsdale Stadium seats 12,000 and is most worthy of the popularity fans have bestowed upon it.
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The upscale city of Scottsdale is arguably the artistic and culinary heart of Phoenix and that pedigree is on display, as well as the expected higher than average prices.
All the ballpark classics are available. Hot dogs and nachos can be had for $5, while delicious bratwursts, Polish sausages and burgers will cost you $6.75. Smaller items such as sunflower seeds, popcorn and candy will run $4, while a variety of kettle corns range from $6-$8.
Scottsdale Stadium has a reputation for having a party atmosphere and for good reason. Several local bars and breweries have set up shop in the stadium. A beer from the Gordon Biersch brewery or Dos Gringos cantina will cost you $8. The biggest bar presence comes from Salty Senorita, who has established the Salty Pavilion in right centerfield. Admission will cost you a bit extra, as will the drinks, with $8 margaritas and $11 beers.
You can also find a chow mein and burrito tents set up throughout the concourse.
The star of the concession scene is the Smokehouse Barbeque, which serves up a sensational combo of either a pork shoulder or beef brisket sandwich, potato salad and chips for $10.
Having received renovations only six years ago, Scottsdale Stadium has a great feel to it, made even more pronounced with the Giants being the reigning champions.
The stadium does a great job, for a Spring Training venue, of making the day or night feel like an event. It has a delightful look to it that has a retro influence, but inside everything is clean and vibrant.
There was signage throughout recounting the history of the Cactus League and the Giants, but it was more of an afterthought. They recently had the World Series trophy on display, although it departed the day before my particular visit. However, they did have an autograph session available to fans with such Hall of Famers as Catfish Hunter and Gaylord Perry.
Much of that event feel comes from the party atmosphere that permeates through the ballpark. Scottsdale Stadium patrons, in comparison to the rest of the Cactus League, are there far more to "be there" than to watch the game. Despite that, there's no sense of people going from "party" to "rowdy" to "rude" that occurs at other stadiums.
Scottsdale Stadium is located just minutes away from Old Town Scottsdale, a district full of a tremendous amount of bars, art galleries, shops and restaurants that celebrate the Old West heritage. In total, there are more than 90 restaurants and bars and 300 other shops and galleries all within reasonable walking distance.
Some standouts for pre-game food are The Breakfast Club (if it's a typical 1:00 game as they close at 3pm), The Orange Table for a selection of delicious sandwiches, and The Lodge for some delicious and massive burgers.
Some of the local bars that capture the Old Town feel are The Rusty Spur (complete with saloon doors) and DJ's Bar and Grill.
A full listing of all bars and restaurants can be found here.
The Giants do have a lengthy history among Arizona baseball fans. Before receiving the Diamondbacks in 1998, Scottsdale Stadium was home for the final seasons of the Phoenix Firebirds, who were the Giants' Triple-A affiliate. The franchise had been around since 1958 when it was known as the Phoenix Giants (with notable alumni including Willie Mays and Willie McCovey). Needless to say, the Giants have a foothold among the older baseball fans in Phoenix.
However, that doesn't really translate to Spring Training. Despite this particular game being a World Series rematch with the Texas Rangers, most fans were more inclined to enjoy the surroundings, adult beverages and unseasonably cool weather. In fact, more than a few "who's playing?" questions were heard throughout the game.
Access to the stadium is relatively easy, with numerous parking lots and structures surrounding the area, with the vast majority at $10 or less. Traffic is rarely a problem as the local police do an excellent job of managing the flow. There is also a local trolley system that passes by the stadium that is free of charge.
The restroom facilities are well placed throughout the stadium and are spacious and clean. Even during the busiest moments, there was little in the way of a wait.
As noted before, the concession prices are a little pricy in comparison to the rest of the Cactus League, then again, most anything in Scottsdale is more expensive than most other places around town.
As for tickets, the Giants are one of a few teams in the Cactus League to have "dynamic pricing" where more attractive games, such as night games or against marquee opponents, will command a higher price.
Box seats can range from $22-$35, line box from $19-$29 and a bleacher seat will run from $13-$24. The ever popular lawn seating in the outfields, which are typically $6 in most other parks, rise to $9 all the way up to $21 for those marquee dates.
There were not a lot of extras around the ballpark, but the sense that you're at a fun and family friendly event certainly is worth one. It's a great atmosphere for a Spring Training game.
Another point is given for the signing session of Hall of Famers, which was certainly a popular draw.
The reputation as one of the preeminent locations in the Cactus League is one that is firmly backed up by the fan's experience in attending a game.
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4422 N 75th St
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
7245 E Main St
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
7320 E Stetson Ave
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
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