American Family Fields of Phoenix – Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training
Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
American Family Fields of Phoenix 3600 N 51st Ave Phoenix, AZ 85031
Year Opened: 1998
American Family Fields of Phoenix, previously known as Maryvale Stadium, is the spring training home of Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers. Originally built in 1998, it received an extensive renovation, which was completed in Feb, 2019 in time for that season’s spring training games. The renovations brought the facility up to par with the many new super-modern stadiums being built in the Phoenix, AZ area the last ten+ years.
The recent renovations included new clubhouses, an umpire room, and an updated press box. The aluminum benches were removed and replaced with traditional stadium seats. A new digital scoreboard was added as well as an overhaul of the playing surface and warning track.
Other fan amenities of the renovation included upgraded parking and an enhanced hall of fame entry walkway and home plate promenade plaza entrance, larger bathrooms, concession stands, and a main team shop.
American Family Fields is an excellent-looking, inviting stadium, but man, the game day operations have to do something about all the noise and music piped in between pitches and batters. It’s a spring training game and people come to watch the game and relax, not be or assaulted by the cacophony often heard at MLB games.
Food & Beverage 4
American Family Fields offers decent food choices with some unique Wisconsin fare.
Wisconsin curd burgers, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, and bratwursts from $5.75 – $13 are for sale, and cheese curds, nachos, pretzels, and French fries run $5.25 – $8.25. Coca-Cola brand sodas run $5.50/$7 with bottled water at $5. Bratchos (bratwurst, nachos, and cheese bowl) is a uniquely Wisconsin item served at American Family Fields.
Individual concession tents line the outfield concourse with treats like Kettle Korn, shaved ice, and Mister Softee. Napa Valley Noodles offers their signature bowls for $11 in both chicken and vegetable varieties.
Smokehouse BBQ provides smoked pulled pork and chicken sandwiches $11.25/$10.25 and smoked jumbo brats and hot dogs ($9.25). I tried the smoked chicken sandwich – the taste is not worth the price.
Peddlers sell beer, peanuts, water, and other snacks in the stands.
Baseline Brewstop carts dot the inner concourse offering Miller Lite, Coors Light, Saint Archer Hazy IPA on tap and cans of domestic beer and Coke brand bottles of soda also available. A Baseline Cocktail cart is along the concourse offering wine and some of the hard stuff. Two Leinie Lodges (originated in Wisconsin – owned by Miller Brewing Company) are on the outfield concourse path offering their refreshing beers.
A Bloody Mary cart with those priced at $13.50 and $19.50 for a souvenir one is on site. Throughout the ballpark, premium canned beers are $13.50 with domestic cans going for $12.50 (Bud, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, etc.).
American Family Fields has one level of traditional blue, stadium fold-down seats on the infield and down the lines and an abundance of berm seating beyond the outfield. Not all seating sections have cup holders but there’s plenty of leg room. New this 2020 season, a protective net (medium thickness) runs in front of the entire seating area except the grass berms. Generally, 26 rows of seats round out the infield with the seats in the higher rows getting the shade first as the sun sets behind home plate. Sit in the lower rows or on the berms if trying to catch some rays.
The press box and offices sit on ‘stilts’ above the home plate area. A flat, slotted roof covers the inner concourse helping provide shade and relief from the sun. One can walk the entire concourse. Lots of tables are provided on the outfield footpath to stop, take a break, or eat some snacks.
Slotted Roof at American Family Fields, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
Music, when played at a sporting event, should add to the enjoyment of the total experience. (What would a Bo-Sox game be without “Sweet Caroline”?) Unfortunately, at American Family Fields there is music competing with PA announcements, squashed in between pitches and batters, and generally at an unacceptable volume. This does NOT add to the enjoyment of the spring training experience.
Promotions include 50/50, some trivia questions, and the famous racing sausages make their way from Milwaukee to Phoenix to compete in the middle of the 6th inning to the delight of fans.
The scoreboard sits in left field and provides some player basic information (height, weight, DOB, etc.) and also includes a photo of the player and the batting order and line stats. Nice!
The ballpark is located in the northwest portion of Phoenix in what once was known as a not-so-safe neighborhood. The safety has improved a bit but it sits in a residential area with not much in walking distance except for a few fast food restaurants.
Downtown Phoenix is just eight miles away and a vast variety of eating establishments are located there. Some recommendations are Pizzeria Bianco (Italian), Breakfast Club, and Angels Trumpet Ale House (gastropub).
The Grand Canyon University Hotel is just five miles from the ballpark and is a good place to stay if visiting from out of town. It also includes the Canyon Grill 49 restaurant offering breakfast, lunch, dinner, and happy hour. The Holiday Inn-Phoenix West is three miles south of American Family Fields and is another option for lodging.
For golfers, the GCU golf course is nearby. Other sports nearby are any of the spring time Grand Canyon University sports like their baseball and basketball venues. The closest spring training ballpark is Camelback Ranch, home of the LA Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox.
Brewers fans are classy. This being a Milwaukee-based spring training facility, plenty of tailgating is seen throughout the parking areas with chairs and grills and games pouring out of the back of trunks. And, as the fans do in Milwaukee, they clean up their spaces immaculately after the tailgating ends. It’s quite impressive.
Average attendance has increased from a little over 5,000 to 7,400 since the renovation. Many fans are seen wearing the traditional logo (ball in an M-B’d glove) as well as the wheat set logo.
Getting to the ballpark is most convenient by car. Bus stops range from a half mile to a mile and a half from the stadium but walking is not recommended. Once arriving, individuals will direct you where to park at a cost of $10 (twice as much as many of the other spring training facilities). The parking is quite a distance from the entrance though golf carts are provided to take fans to the home plate entrance, if desired. The closest airport is Phoenix Sky Harbor about 12 or so miles away.
Our recommendation is to enter via the newly updated home plate entrance to stroll the impressive retired number walkway amongst Arizona landscaped gardens with plenty of places to sit and wait for the gates to open, or to meet up with friends.
Approaching American Family Fields, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
The standard security check is in place and moves relatively quickly. Clear bags are not required though no bags should be larger than 16” x 16” x 8″.
Once inside, fans will find bright, spacious, new restrooms. We can only wish that there were more as lines can form particularly on high-attendance games. Fans can walk the entire concourse – always a nice feature of a ballpark.
Return on Investment 2
Parking is $10 cash, which is twice as high as some others in the East Valley. Programs are $5 (about average with rest of the Cactus League). Ticket prices range from $8 – $32 – more affordable prices than other spring training venues in Arizona. Concessions are the typical overpriced amount found at all ballparks.
Although the ticket prices are lower than other teams, the noise and music played throughout the entire game just does not make me want to return here for spring training.
For those who collect hard ticket stubs, the Brewers have good-looking ones with a player’s photo on the top third of the ticket. Christian Yelich is on the one I received while Lorenzo Cain is on my receipt.
American Family Fields has excellent team merchandise stores. Be sure to check out the ancillary one down the first base concourse as they offer different choices than the one just near the home plate entrance.
A clever element provided is the temperatures in Phoenix and then Milwaukee are announced, which is a fun idea. Of course, they played music over the announcement so unless listening for it, fans can’t really hear it.
The renovations certainly helped boost the design of the park and the ease of navigation around the concourse.
American Family Fields of Phoenix is a beautiful baseball stadium and the renovations have helped improve the look, feel, and comfort. Brewers fans are some of the best in MLB. The noise and racket played between almost every pitch and batter really detracts from an enjoyable game day experience. It feels like it’s not about the game but the music. And that is really too bad.