Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Camelback Ranch 10710 W Camelback Rd Phoenix, AZ 85037
Year Opened: 2009
Southside in AZ
The Chicago White Sox have had their spring training in Arizona since 1998. Prior to that, they played their spring ball in Tampa and Sarasota, FL (1954 – 1997) and a whole slew of different cities across the U.S. since 1901.
Since 2009, they have shared their picturesque spring home, Camelback Ranch in Glendale, AZ, with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The design and architecture of the stadium fit in well in its desert home. Natural materials like stone retaining walls, real stone veneer, and metal ‘rusty’ pillars are used to blend into the desert landscape. The stadium seats are an unconventional gold or caramel color which help enhance the natural look.
Food & Beverage 4
Camelback Ranch offers plenty of food, snack, and drink choices throughout the venue at expected high stadium costs. It has your Dodger Dog and Chicago Vienna beef hot dogs and more.
Fans gravitate to the Four Peaks Patio Bar down the first base concourse. Four Peaks was once an independent local brewery, now owned by Anheuser-Busch. The patio has tables, chairs, a huge bar selling brews and cocktails, and is shaded. In the same area, the Baseline Sausage Grill sells its tantalizing foot-long Sonoran dogs, bratwurst, and Italian sausages.
Another popular food choice is the cleverly named Wok Off Noodles, also on the first base side.
Double Play Deli & Pizza (just inside the home plate entrance) sells pizza, Dodgers Dogs, Vienna beef dogs, chicken tenders and wraps, and assorted snacks. It has a decent selection of beers on tap, including Hazy Little IPA.
Several kiosks dot the concourse selling all varieties of beer, margaritas, walking tacos, tostilotes, lemonade, ice cream, popcorn, kettle corn, and more. Pepsi is the soda provider at Camelback Ranch.
Expect to miss a half-inning or two when getting concessions during the game. The queues are long.
Watching a Chicago White Sox spring training game on a warm Arizona afternoon or evening is a laid-back affair, perfect for spring games.
The White Sox side of the venue is the first base side, while the Dodgers utilize the third base side. Twenty-two rows of gold-colored seats furnish the seating bowl from foul pole to foul pole. Berm seating is in the outfield; an all-you-can-eat Bullpen Patio Deck is in left field above the Dodgers bullpen. A medium-thick net extends all the way down the baselines.
The first base side gets the shade first as does the higher-numbered rows (16+). Free-standing shelters help over the first base side seats from the sun. Sit on the third base side for afternoon games if you want the sun. The third base side is also away from many of the speakers.
The music volume is okay but music is played over announcements and the starting lineup. Boo. The music person sometimes plays those irritating music snippets like the Addams Family and Everybody Clap Your Hands between pitches. Ugh. It’s not between every pitch but is annoyingly noticeable when played. Save it for between batters or half-innings.
The scoreboard has a beautiful view of mountains behind it, best seen from the third base side. The scoreboard is easy to read and shows the lineup, the photo of the player at bat (if they have it), the batter’s name and previous at-bat results, and the line score. It shows yellow dots for balls, strikes, outs, and runs in blue.
Camelback Ranch Scoreboard, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
The venue has a nice wide-open concourse that encircles the entire field. Lush pine trees and other shrubbery decorate the batter’s eye.
The right field bullpen has eleven retired Chicago White Sox’ and Jackie Robinson’s numbers posted on its wall.
Camelback Ranch is in a very residential area. No choices for lunch, dinner, and other entertainment are available within walking distance.
Three miles away is the Westgate Entertainment District. It has many restaurants, all of which are very different from each other in price and menu. A lot of different shops and boutiques, a movie theater, a pottery painting studio, arcades, and breweries are part of the amenities in the district. Places in the district for a pre-game meal or drink include Yard House, State 48 Funk House Brewery, Fat Tuesdays, and McFaddens. Be sure to check their website for happy hour specials; some of the restaurants do not include a happy hour on event days or weekends. First Watch (breakfast/lunch), Manna Korean BBQ, Opa Life (Greek), and Salt Tacos y Tequila are just a few other worthwhile places to eat.
I always enjoy Yard House, which has a fabulous beer selection and good food; this one has outdoor seating for those comfortable spring Arizona days and evenings.
For something a bit more unique, head to historic downtown Glendale for some culture, shopping, and dining. The historic district is about eight miles from the ballpark.
Several hotels are in the Westgate Entertainment District. The closest hotel to the ballpark is the Comfort Suites Glendale – State Farm Stadium, about two and a half miles from the home plate entrance. Hotel rates double during spring training, so keep that in mind when making travel arrangements.
Other nearby sports to see in February and March include the Peoria Sports Complex (Mariners and Padres spring training), Surprise Stadium (Rangers and Royals spring training), and Goodyear Ballpark (Guardians and Reds spring training). And, if looking to go downtown Phoenix, sports fans can usually catch an NBA Suns game when in town.
Fans are friendly and eager for a laugh and to strike up a conversation. You’ll see fans with Podsednik jerseys and other fans with White Sox shirts and hats.
White Sox Fan, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
Loads of fans don’t really pay attention to the game and get up and leave their seats when a player is at bat or a good defensive play is in motion. This is common in many spring training stadiums. For the most part, fans here throw away their own garbage; but not everyone does, so you’ll still be walking over peanut shells and tripping over empty water bottles and snack trays.
It’s a relaxed atmosphere, and fans are out for a lovely day in the sun while watching a baseball game.
Getting to the stadium is most conveniently done by vehicle (unless you’re a nearby neighbor and can walk). Valley Metro does provide bus service. The stop is 1.1 miles from the stadium, so there’s still some walking involved if taking public transportation. The stadium offers a designated rideshare dropoff and pickup area.
The stadium is 2 ½ miles west of the Loop 101 Agua Fria Fwy on Camelback Rd. The game day security opens four gates for spring training games. All gates open 60 min before the first pitch. Plenty of free parking is available. The staff provides golf cart rides to transport fans who need them to and from stadium entrance gates. That’s a nice service.
The stadium offers benches to sit and wait for gates to open or late arriving friends. It has a huge, clean, artfully landscaped plaza area outside the home plate entrance for fans to gather.
Clear sports stadium bags 12” x 6” x 12” and small clutch bags (without a strap) are permitted. Those straps are certainly a security risk. Fans walk through metal detectors and security then searches the clear bags.
Restrooms are nice and clean. My sister-in-law would approve. The concourse has four family restrooms along its path.
Walking around the stadium and the wide-open concourse makes it quite an enjoyable place to stroll.
Those directing traffic after the game are not helpful or friendly. No signs are available on how to get back to the 101 if you are forced to exit the parking lot a different way than you entered. Posting directional signs to the 101 would be a helpful added feature.
Return on Investment 3
Like many spring training facilities, prices are no longer family-affordable. Tickets for a White Sox spring training game range from $15 - $62, depending on the date and opponent. Refreshments are expensive (fans are allowed to bring in one sealed bottle of water but that’s it).
Parking is free, so that helps.
Take a photo of yourself in front of the Frank Thomas statue along the center field concourse.
Staff hands out a marvelous program upon entry which includes a score sheet and pertinent information on the stadium and the White Sox. Excellent reference!
Except for the exiting traffic control individuals, every single staff member is helpful, friendly, and seems eager to make a day at the ballpark a pleasant one. Quite refreshing.
The facility’s natural desert design and landscaping make this one of the more unique in the Cactus League.
Spring training games played this 2023 incorporated new MLB rules hoping to increase the pace of play. These rules include:
Pitch timer (15 sec / 20 sec with a player on base)
Bigger bases (increased by three inches)
Two infielders on each side of second base at the beginning of a pitch
Infielders must be on the dirt at the start of a pitch
Most spring training games lasted less than three hours this 2023 season in the Cactus League so here’s hoping this year’s (2023) MLB games won’t be lasting as long as cricket matches.
Camelback Ranch is a fine facility in which to watch a spring training game. Put it on your list if visiting Arizona in the spring.