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  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

Former Cactus League Stadiums: Phoenix Municipal Stadium


Phoenix Municipal Stadium 2010, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Our next of several features on former Cactus League spring training facilities, some of which still exist and some do not.


Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Phoenix, AZ opened in 1964, was the spring training home of the San Francisco Giants (1964** – 1981) and then the Oakland Athletics (1982 – 2014). It also served as the home of the San Francisco AAA minor league team from 1966 – 1991 (Phoenix Giants, renamed the Phoenix Firebirds).


Phoenix Muni (short name) is one of several former Cactus League facilities still in use today, now hosting the Arizona State University (ASU) Sun Devils baseball team beginning the 2015 season. The Sun Devils, though, have played ball games at Phoenix Muni over the life of the ballpark.


It is the second ballpark to be named Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the original one was located a little closer to downtown. The greatest all around ballplayer, Willie Mays, hit the first home run in front of an 8,583 crowd, when the stadium first opened on March 8, 1964.


Several things stand out about Phoenix Muni: its history, beyond the outfield, the pedestrian bridge.


The stadium oozes with history. Sixteen markers on its concourse portray Phoenix’s baseball past. There’s even a marker commemorating the use of the stadium by the Oakland A’s after the 1989 World Series earthquake in the Bay Area. The light towers at the venue are the original ones from the Polo Grounds. Discovered when the Oakland Athletics took residence in 1982, the stadium clubhouses doubled as civil defense bomb shelters.

Phoenix Municipal Stadium Marker, Photo by Sean MacDonald, Stadium Journey


Papago Park, its trails and butte rock formations, is the backdrop beyond the outfield. The focal point of Papago Parks is “Hole in the Rock,” which is off in the distance, directly behind the batter’s eye. And the Phoenix zoo is next door. It’s been said an occasional early-morning elephant trumpet can be heard.


Except for handicapped parking, the parking lot is located across the street and fans must walk over a pedestrian bridge to get to the stadium. For most fans this is fine but for those with a fear of heights, it is awful and not even do-able for some with acrophobia.


Phoenix Muni Pedestrian Bridge, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


After the 2003 season, the stadium underwent an $8 million renovation (the stadium originally cost $890,000 to build in 1964).


The 2003 renovation included increasing the press box size from 800 square feet to 3,000 square feet and adding a second floor to the A’s administrative offices. Next, the dugouts doubled in size and dropped below ground level. Approximately 150 premium seats were added behind home plate. Finally, the city added two suites and a 75-person capacity party deck which could be rented on a per-game basis.


Phoenix Municipal Stadium 2010, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


The stadium’s unique accordion-style roof, which leaked frequently, was preserved after initial plans called for its removal. The leaks were sealed using a spray foam. And, this renovation added the historic timeline markers.


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When Sun Devil Baseball moved into Phoenix Municipal Stadium following the 2014 season, a number of capital improvements were made to the facility. These included a clubhouse redesign complete with a player’s lounge, an academic center, nutrition room, weight room and training room, and the installation of a video board.


The newest improvement in 2018 is highlighted by a state-of-the-art batting facility. It also includes the installation of a new outfield fence, relocating the home and visiting team bullpens behind the new fence, and changing the dimensions of the playing field.


Phoenix Muni Sun Devil Baseball 2019, Photo by Sean MacDonald, Stadium Journey


Here’s hoping for a return of the sport in 2021 and a revisit by Stadium Journey to see the more of the improvements and remodel.


**I found a reference in SABR indicating the San Francisco Giants played the 1964 spring training season at Papago Park Baseball Complex just down the street from Phoenix Muni.

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