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  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

Fitch Park - ACL Athletics


Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.57

Fitch Park

651 N Center

Mesa, AZ 85211


Year Opened: 1997

Year Renovated: 2014 Capacity: 125 (estimate)

 

Rookie A's

In the sports world, Fitch Park in Mesa, AZ, is mostly known as the workout and practice facility as the Oakland Athletics’ spring training site.  It is a city-owned and operated park.  The park has four ball fields on the west side and traditional city park amenities like a playground, ramadas, and picnic tables on the east side. 

The ACL Athletics (Arizona Complex League) play their home games there (Field 3) from mid-spring to mid-summer.  The 2024 ACL season runs from early May till the end of July.  It is an earlier start than previous seasons.   This is nice because it’s not quite as hot in early May.


The Arizona Complex League (formerly known as the Arizona League) is one of two rookie-level baseball leagues of MLB, the lowest level of the organization.  The games are nine innings and use only two umpires.  If you look at the rosters, most players were born after 9/11.  For many of the players and the umpires, the ACL is their first professional engagement.


The ACL Athletics began playing at Fitch Field in 2015.  The team has won the most ACL championships since the league started in 1988. 


Food & Beverage 0

The stadium does not sell concessions.  Fans can and should bring in their own snacks and beverages.  We recommend bringing in at least two bottles of water as it gets unbelievably hot at these games, brutally hot, especially later in the season.


Atmosphere 2

The park has a good-looking, plush green field (at least at the beginning of the season).  Palm trees line the center field walls.  Two sets of bleachers are on each side of the infield.  They are five rows high and sit maybe ten across.  Thankfully, canopies cover them, so they are shaded.  The seating is very close to the field; you’re up close to the action.  A thick chain link fence protects not only the bleachers but also the dugouts.   It impedes the view of the game.



The field has a basic scoreboard in left field showing strikes, balls, outs, the inning, and runs per team.  It is best seen from the first base bleachers during day games, as the chain link fence blocks the view from the third base set.


The team has an announcer, who calls the game extremely well, though his voice volume is low, and sometimes you need to strain to hear it.


Game day operations play music between innings at a perfect volume level.


Neighborhood 4

The stadium is in a residential area, and while there’s not a whole lot to do in the immediate area, the stadium is a little over a mile from downtown Mesa, which has developed significantly over the last several years.

 

Downtown Mesa has four breweries:  12 West Brewing – which serves tasty food, Beer Research Institute – which has a classic arcade in it, Oro Brewing Company, and the newest Phantom Fox Beer Co – which partners with Goat and Ram (pizza).   A cidery (Cider Corps) and Chupacabra Taproom are also downtown and offer cider, beer, and wine and a place to hang out before or after the ballgames.  Diamond’s Sports Grille, a classic sports bar, has traditional sports bar food and is just a mile from the park.

 

For local restaurants, we recommend the delicious New Mexican fare Blue Adobe Grille, which is only a four or five-minute drive from the ballpark, and the Que Chevere (Venezuelan cuisine) on Main St. downtown.

 

Tourist things to see and do in Mesa are the Arizona Museum of Natural History, the engaging i.d.e.a Museum (excellent for kids), or the popular cultural Mesa Arts Center. The Mesa Historical Museum has an exhibit on the Arizona Cactus League and Arizona Spring Training, as well as Mesa-specific historical exhibits. Though a little distance from Fitch Park (about 5 miles), fans may want to visit Organ Stop Pizza with its Wurlitzer Theater organ, which some say is the world’s largest pipe organ.

 

The Delta Hotels by Marriott Phoenix Mesa is one mile away. A few lower-priced hotels, like Quality Inn or Baymont Inn, are three to five miles from the stadium.

 

Other sports near Fitch Park during the rookie season include the WAC baseball tournament played at Hohokam Stadium at the end of May or the Pac-12 baseball tournament at Scottsdale Stadium. And, depending on schedules, fans can visit Chase Field and see an MLB Arizona Diamondbacks game or the Footprint Center and watch the WNBA Phoenix Mercury.


Fans 2

The fans in the stands are players not playing that day, some local A’s fans, and others who like the game of baseball.  Some fans bring bags of baseballs to get autographs of possible up-and-coming Athletics.  It’s easy to strike up a conversation with the other fans.  You can hear discussions about the type of pitch thrown and good plays on the diamond; visitors know the game.   Probably the biggest fans are the teammates in the dugouts. 


Access 3

Getting to and from Fitch Park is easy and hassle-free.  It is a little over a mile north of downtown Mesa, half a mile south of Hohokam Stadium, and about two miles south of the 202.   A DBUZ bus stop is outside the stadium.  The bus service ends at 8pm during the week and 9pm on Saturdays. This may not be an option if you want to stay for the whole game, as evening games start at 6pm.


Sky Harbor Airport is 11 miles to the west; Mesa Gateway Airport is 22 miles to the southeast.  Uber and Lyft are readily available in Mesa.


When arriving by vehicle, drive past the ball fields and park in the area at the end of the road.  Then follow the sign to the field entrance.  It’s a short hike to the playing field.



Return on Investment 5

It costs nothing except your transportation to Fitch Field and the snacks and drinks you bring.  The city doesn’t charge for parking; the team doesn’t charge admittance.   You can’t do much better than that for a few hours of baseball.


Extras 2

Extras go to the city for renovating the complex and the field ten years ago.  Beginning the season earlier is favorable just because of the heat in the later parts of summer.


Final Thoughts

If you like baseball for baseball and can manage the heat, watching an ACL Athletics game is a worthwhile few hours out.  Be sure to check out the lively downtown Mesa area after (or before) the game.


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