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  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

Hohokam Stadium – WAC Baseball Tournament


Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Hohokam Stadium 1235 N Center St Mesa, AZ 85201 Map It!



Year Opened: 1997 Capacity: 12,500

 

Learn • Compete • Inspire

Attending a championship tournament is an exciting, special outing. The emotions, excitement, ups and downs, disappointments, and triumphs are the same for a WAC (Western Athletic Conference) baseball tournament as for any other ‘higher league’ conference.


The WAC baseball tournament began in 1982. The criteria for the tournament participants have varied over the years, with some seasons using the top finishers in the conference and others using top teams in each of the two divisions. In 2023, the top eight teams participated in the tournament. A team is eliminated after losing two games. The tournament winner receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament.


Historic Hohokam Stadium in Mesa AZ has hosted the WAC baseball tournament for the last eight years. Hopefully, it will continue to do so in the future. The stadium is more commonly known as the spring training facility of the Oakland Athletics. The city-owned venue hosts a variety of other tournaments and events throughout the year.


Food & Beverage 2

The event manager hires local Arizona food trucks to service the visiting fans. Two trucks are available each game, one offering dessert choices, the other lunch or dinner options. The trucks vary each day. Kudos for hiring local businesses for the event!


For dessert, choices in 2023 included Udder Delight (yummy ice cream treats), Maui Wowi (smoothies and coffee refreshments), and Kona Delights (flavored shaved ice, sorbets, etc.). Lunch and dinner choices comprised Brightside Burgers (several choices of juicy burgers), Macology (16 assortments of mac and cheese), and SuperTruck (Mexican-inspired dishes).



Water, Gatorade, and soda in cans or bottles are all available for sale at the food trucks. The venue does not serve adult beverage products at this tournament. A very popular lemonade stand was open during the 2023 tournament.


Outside food and beverages are allowed during the tournament. We recommend bringing several bottles of water, as it does get hot, especially during the day games.


Atmosphere 4

Hohokam Stadium provides an impressive morning, afternoon, and evening out for the tournament. Only Gate C is open for the competition, and fans enter the stadium through the welcoming air-conditioned spring training team store. The inner concourse is only open on the third base side (closed the other way).


The stadium offers two levels of seating with a small walkway between the two. The seats are the green stadium-style, fold-down seats with cupholders and decent legroom. Handrails are available for striding up and down the seating areas.


Bleachers with backs occupy the last three sections on each side in the 200 level, rarely used at this tournament. A recommendation for visiting fans, bring a towel or two – one to sit on so you don’t stick to the seat from the heat, and to wipe off dust and cobwebs as the seats may be dirty from lack of use.



Two covered picnic areas sit down on both the left and right field baselines. Both are good places to eat your meals or snacks between the games. Something a bit uncommon is “horizontally stacked” bullpens in right field. Nets extend across all the infield seats except the very far sections down each baseline.


It gets hot at these tournaments in Arizona towards the end of May. Expect temperatures to be in the 90’s °F / 32+ ° C. Sit in the upper level (200’s) behind home and on the first base side for the shade for day games. A recommendation is to sit underneath the press box (one with an open window). You’ll get a breeze from the air conditioner every once in a while (and you get to hear any radio broadcasts and official game staff discussions).


A merchandise table is in the entrance area selling conference t-shirts. Suggestion – if you want one, get it early in the tournament; sizes sell out as the series progresses.


A crisp, clear video board shines in left field. It shows the line score, the player at bat’s name, number, and photograph.


A whole variety of music is played, from Christian to Country to Latino to Hip Hop and more at a loud volume. Bring earplugs if this grates on you. It’s not quite so loud in the first level of seats but those sections get the sun for the day games. Players have walk-up music.


Neighborhood 4

The stadium is in a residential area, and while there’s not a whole lot in the immediate area, the stadium is less than two miles from downtown Mesa which has developed significantly over the last several years. Three breweries (12 West Brewing – which serves tasty food, Beer Research Institute – which has a classic arcade in it, and Oro Brewing Company) are downtown, as is a cidery (Cider Corps). Chupacabra Taproom is also downtown and offers beer and wine and a place to hang out before or after the ballgames, as is Diamond’s Sports Grill which has traditional sports bar food.


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 or the engaging i.d.e.a Museum (excellent for kids) or visit 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 Hohokam Stadium (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.


Hotels are not within walking distance of Hohokam Stadium. The Delta Hotels by Marriott Phoenix Mesa is one and a half miles away. A few lower-priced hotels like Quality Inn or Baymont Inn are three to five miles from the stadium.


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


Fans 3

For the 2023 WAC tournament, every team was represented well by their fan base. The crowds are generally family, friends, and students. Parents, grandparents, siblings, and girlfriends are there cheering on their favorite player. Some residents watch the games as well. Most fans only visit when ‘their team’ is playing, but some stay on to watch the other games. Less than 1,000 fans are in the stands. The biggest fans are the players themselves.



Some teams’ fans complain way more about the umpiring than others. Umpires have a thankless job.


The fans from GCU (Grand Canyon University), a local team, came out in force to support their players. UTRGV (University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley) had a huge Kade York fan club present. Seattle U fans were a small but mighty bunch. Sam Houston fans were thrilled their team took home the tournament championship.


Access 4

The ballpark is located in a neighborhood. Roads getting there are two or four lanes. It is 1 ½ miles south of the 202 (Red Mountain Freeway). Traffic congestion in and out of the stadium is not an issue for the WAC tournament. The city does not charge a parking fee for the event.


The closest airport is Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (about 12 miles distance); a smaller regional airport, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, maybe another pick if arriving via Allegiant Airlines. Public transportation is available via Valley Metro, but be sure to check return availability.


Bags of any size are allowed. They don’t need to be plastic or clear.


One set of restrooms is open on the third base inner concourse with signs marked. The ladies’ room has a changing table (I’m not sure about the men’s room). The bathrooms are old but kept extremely clean and stocked during the tournament. Moving around the concourse and walkways is easy.


Return on Investment 5

An all-tournament ticket is $40; single-day tickets are $15. WAC students get in for free. The venue does not charge for parking. For the 2023 tournament, fans could only purchase tickets online. If they don't buy tickets in advance, the stadium has signage with a QR code to scan to buy them on your phone.


Attending this tournament is well worth your sports entertainment investment. You just don’t know what you’ll see: a walk-off grand slam in the 11th inning, a DH who also pitched three innings, two mercy rule games, a game that ended in 2 hours 11 minutes, and another at 3 hours and 51 minutes. You get to witness a player’s last-ever game (seniors who are graduating). And, the excitement of the players on the field after winning the championship. All of that is priceless (except maybe the close to a 4-hour game).

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Extras 3

Applause to the event manager for hiring local business food trucks for the tournament.


It’s nice going to a ballpark and not worrying about which bag type is allowed and how many bottles of water to bring.


New for the 2023 season was the use of the pitch clock. And, plays were challenged. The challenges took a long time so hopefully, the timing of those can be minimized next season. Four umpires judge the championship games; three do so during the regular season (so I’m told).


All games were televised on ESPN+ this 2023 season.

Press Assistant


Final Thoughts

It’s exciting watching a conference tournament. Although not one of the newer, fancier spring training venues in the East Valley, Hohokam Stadium is worth visiting when the WAC baseball tournament is in town.


I recommend the city of Mesa promote it more.

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