Camelback Ranch – Los Angeles Dodgers Spring Training
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Camelback Ranch 10712 W Camelback Rd Phoenix, AZ 85037
Year Opened: 2009
This year (2018) the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate their 10th anniversary at Camelback Ranch, their Spring Training facility in Glendale, Arizona. The Dodgers made their move from their fabled digs at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida to be much closer to their West Coast fan base. Camelback Ranch is the largest spring training facility in the Cactus League and is the second newest facility after the Chicago Cubs Sloan Park.
The main stadium opened in 2009 and has a capacity of 13,000 (10,000 fixed seats and room for 3,000 on the outfield berms). It features 12 suites, a party deck, and several outfield terraces for groups and parties. The latest new amenities are an extended sunshade along the first base stands and a new 30’ X 50’ HD video board in the right center field.
Food & Beverage 4
As you would suspect, the concessions at Camelback Ranch are a mix of baseball standards, southwestern cuisine, and regional favorites from the host teams’ areas. The broad menu includes hot dogs ($6), hamburgers ($8), pretzels ($5), pizza ($7), nachos ($6), tamales ($7), burritos ($6) and chili cheese fries. Camelback Ranch does offer the famous Dodger Dogs ($5).
It is extremely important to stay hydrated in the hot and arid climate of Arizona. Beverages available at Camelback Ranch include bottled water ($5), Pepsi brand sodas ($5), fruit drinks ($5) and beer ($10 for domestic brands and $12 for premium brands), and other alcoholic beverages such as margaritas ($12) or wine ($8).
Sunscreen is also available at both concession stands and the team stores in case you forget to bring it with you.
Camelback Ranch differs from its Cactus League brethren in that it truly embraces the Arizona landscape in its design. The stadium and surrounding facilities truly blend in with nature in an eco-friendly way. The stadium itself is very low profile, as the field is sunk 12 feet below grade and the seating is 12 feet above grade. The materials used in the stadium include stone native to the area, stucco, and earth tones for its metallic surfaces to mimic the surrounding terrain. Even the seats are caramel colored to blend in with nature.
The areas outside of the stadium are equally park-like. More than 5,000 plants and trees dot the property, including an orange grove. Several nature trails dot the property, taking you to the various practice fields that are on-site. The Dodger and White Sox facilities are separated by a lake filled with fish. This lake serves as both a cooling zone from the hot Arizona sun and a water source to irrigate the many grass fields on site.
A day at Camelback Ranch is truly a day in the park, both in the ballpark sense and in the natural connotation. It is a very relaxing atmosphere in which to enjoy a ball game.
While the Camelback Ranch is a large facility it is somewhat isolated from services such as restaurants, shops, and lodging.
The “neighborhood” when referencing Camelback Ranch can be found on just the other side of the Highway 101 interchange. The Glendale Sports and Entertainment District offers a wide variety of options for visitors to the area. It includes more than 26 restaurants, including Culver’s Butter Burgers and Frozen Custard, as well as McFadden’s. Glendale is also home to two professional sports franchises, the Arizona Cardinals and the Arizona Coyotes.
You will see a wide spectrum of fans at Camelback Ranch games, or at any Cactus League games for that matter. First, you will see many locals who are spending their retirement years in the greater Phoenix area. Sun City is located just a few miles from the Camelback complex. They may originally have hailed from one of the cities involved in the game or have no rooting interest and simply love the game. White Sox fans gravitate towards the 1st baseline, while Dodgers fans typically sit along the 3rd baseline due to the designation of a dugout for each of the partnering teams.
A second set of fans will come from the home base of the teams involved and they are checking out the prospects for their team for the season to follow. This is the primary reason the Dodgers moved closer to their fan base in Los Angeles. Since they have a large Hispanic fan base, you will see touches like a wider choice of Mexican foods available, Mexican music being played during the games, and items in the team store bearing the Los Doyers name.
Another portion of the crowd is a combination of families from multiple generations. You will see many grandparents bringing their grandchildren to a game. Pre-season baseball is famous for being the easiest time to get a player’s autograph and Camelback Ranch’s design makes it very easy for that to happen.
The best thing about fans at spring training time is that the vibe is very relaxed and there is not a great deal of competitiveness in the stands. Everyone understands that teams are getting the veterans into shape and prospects are getting evaluated in this period. A game result or team record is not necessarily indicative of the team’s performance once the regular season starts. This makes the fan experience very enjoyable at Camelback Ranch.
Camelback Ranch is one of the most accessible facilities in the Cactus League. Its location at the intersection of the multi-lane West Camelback Road and Highway 101 makes it very easy to reach by car or public transportation. It features several parking lots which surround the stadium, allowing you to park as close as possible to where your seats are. There are two main entry points, with one in center field and one in the home plate area.
Upon entering the stadium, the concourse is at grade level, which is very easy for the large number of seniors who attend the games to navigate. Concession stands and restrooms are plentiful. The berms in the outfield are on a very gradual slope, making it easy for fans to reach their seat. Cooling stations and shaded areas dot the stadium to protect fans from the hot Arizona sun.
Return on Investment 3
Camelback Ranch games command one of the highest ticket prices in the Cactus League. They range from $10 for a seat on the berm up to $45 for a seat in the home plate area. Concessions are also above average in cost compared to other stadiums. Parking at Camelback is free. There are many hotels at the West Camelback / Highway 101 interchange at various price points.
The Dodgers kept the original name of the property as it was a working ranch at the base of the Camelback mountains. The Dodgers share the Camelback Ranch facilities with the Chicago White Sox. Both teams also use the facility as the base for their Arizona League teams.
Two other professional sports franchises are located just across Highway 101 from Camelback Ranch. Gila River Arena is home to the Arizona Coyotes of the NHL and the University of Phoenix Stadium hosts the NFL Arizona Cardinals.
The Dodgers have some interesting art pieces along the lakeside trail. You will meet a life-size bobblehead of Tommy Lasorda at one point and encounter the Walk of Fame featuring a large baseball signed by Dodger greats in another area. When the Dodgers are hosting a game, Dodger Dogs are served at the concession stands.
Baseball traditionalists who bemoan the loss of the original Dodgertown in Vero Beach forget their regrets when they see Camelback Ranch. The Dodgers’ Cactus League headquarters does a great job of remembering the Brooklyn origins of the club while providing the Los Angeles fans with a much more convenient location to visit and a great set of amenities.