Salt River Fields at Talking Stick – Colorado Rockies Spring Training
Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.43
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick 7555 N Pima Rd Scottsdale, AZ 85258
Year Opened: 2011 Capacity: 11,000
Rox in the Desert
The Colorado Rockies play their spring ball at the beautiful Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. It is shared with the Arizona Diamondbacks and celebrated its 10th season in 2021. The Rockies first spring training home was at Hi-Corbett Field in Tucson, AZ from 1993 – 2011.
Salt River Fields is the first MLB spring training park built on Native American Indian land. Its design uses Native American influence and regional-desert architecture and landscaping. Visitors witness picturesque views of Camelback, McDowell, Superstition, and other mountains as they walk the complex area and stadium.
It’s an impressive facility, and the Rockies fans and organization are proud to call it their spring training home.
Food & Beverage 5
Visitors to Salt River Fields will find a host of food and beverage offerings to indulge in. Permanent concessions (all cashless now) line the infield concourse with a few more on the center field concourse. The menus do not change based on the home team (Rockies/Dbacks). The Show is known for the Shea Burger Basket (burger with cheese and bacon and a side of fries – $15.50) or the yummy Bee Line Chicken Club Basket on a pretzel bun. Rte 101 Pizza sells flatbread pizza and Southwestern chicken salad. Cattle 101 offers premium Mile High burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches.
Center field concessions include Cold Stone Creamery, Verde Grille Burgers, and an offering of tantalizing Dominican fare at a Yanikeke food truck.
A unique food cart on the third base concourse sells gourmet ostrich, elk, rattlesnake, beef, and vegan hot dogs ($12). Delicious aromas from kiosks marketing kettle corn, lemonade, standard hot dogs, sausages, and brats permeate throughout the concourse. Mustache Pretzels and Chick-fil-A also have a presence.
Party decks Ultra Terrace and Salty Senorita (margaritas, nachos, and chips & salsa) occupy areas down each baseline.
Salty Seniorita at Salt River Fields, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
Fans looking for adult beverages will find a vast number of beer carts and vendors selling canned domestic and craft beers, and seltzers ($14 – $15.50). Home Plate Bar sells cocktails; other stalls provide adult frozen cocktails and smoothies in various bright fruit flavors. The Casino Arizona Bar in center field offers cocktails, TV screens turned to sporting events, indoor and outdoor seating, and air conditioning.
Pepsi brands are the soda of choice at SRFs ($6 – $7.50). Bottled water costs $5.
Beautiful Southwestern landscaping adorns the facility both inside and outside. It includes cactus gardens, desert terrain, scrubby hardy bushes, and lots of rocks which are all very attractive together. The structure fits in well with its surroundings and the environment. The design incorporates a traditional Native American ramada shade to shield fans from the hot Arizona sun.
Green fold-down seats are plenty wide, have cup holders and legroom is superb at Salt River Fields. Sections 112 and 212 are directly behind home plate. Thin nets run to the ends of the dugouts; only the last few sections are net free. The infield, especially behind home plate and the 200 level, gets shade the entire game. Handy drink rails are on concourse columns and the top of some seating sections. Fans enter from the top of the concourse and descend to the seating area (handrails are available), a small walkway is between the 100 and 200 levels.
The grassy berm in the outfield is a popular seating choice for many families and visitors who spread out to enjoy the sun and the delightful sounds of a baseball game. Peddlers sell drinks and snacks in the berm areas.
The music level isn’t loud and fans can have conversations easily without yelling over the music; though sometimes it is played over the PA, which is common, but still baffling. Bobby Freeman, the long-time organist for the Arizona Diamondbacks, makes his presence at some Rockies spring training games serenading fans with long ago forgotten organ music.
Unfortunately, the team no longer provides handouts of starting lineups and rosters; instead, staff tapes them to an information table. However, the organization installed a new and improved scoreboard on the left field grassy berm several years ago. It conveniently provides the lineup, current pitcher and batter names, line score, some video, between inning entertainment, etc. Based on your long-distance vision and where you sit, you may still need to pull out binoculars to read it.
If you do nothing else when spending time in Scottsdale, visit the USS Arizona Memorial Gardens right across Salt River Fields’ home plate parking lot. It is a memorial to and reminder of the WWII Dec 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and remembrance to those soldiers who served and gave their lives. Columns of light form the outline of the battleship which illuminates at twilight.
The stadium is next to The Pavilions at Talking Stick shopping center. Plenty of chain restaurants and places before or after a Rockies game are within the shopping area: Buffalo Wild Wings (wings and beer), Angry Crab Shack (seafood), Blazin’ Mongolian BBQ (Asian – create your own stir fry), Red Robin (burgers), Filiberto’s (Mexican), and more. Fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Chipotle, Blimpies, Arby’s, and Pizza dot the shopping area.
The TapHouse Kitchen is 3 ½ miles from the ballpark and offers craft beers, cocktails, and diverse and delicious food dishes. We also recommend Grassroots Kitchen & Tap, another local restaurant that provides mouth-watering food and drinks about a mile from the ballpark.
An escape room, indoor skydiving, and one of those movie theaters that serve gourmet movie fare are other entertainment found in The Pavilions. Several golf courses are within a few miles as is the Butterfly Wonderland, America’s largest butterfly atrium. Besides butterflies, it has a 3D theater and various insect displays. The Talking Stick Resort and Casino is just across the Loop 101, less than a three-mile drive from the ballpark.
A Great Wolf Lodge (and water park) is across the parking lot. More affordable lodging is at a Staybridge Hotel, walking distance (less than 1/2 mile) from Salt River Fields. A Hampton Inn & Suites is across the Loop 101 (near the casino). Keep in mind, lodging costs double during spring training.
For other sports in the area, visit the Arizona Diamondbacks spring training another day and other East Valley spring training stadiums: Scottsdale Stadium (SF Giants), Sloan Park (Chicago Cubs), Tempe Diablo (Los Angeles Angels, and Hohokam Stadium (Oakland Athletics). A trip to Phoenix, AZ and an ASU Sun Devil baseball game is a tad over 10 miles from the ballpark.
The Rockies fans come decked out in purple. Although you won’t hear ‘Tulo’ chants anymore, fans generate a great round of applause for current favorite, Charlie Blackman.
Before the pandemic, the Rockies averaged greater than 9,000 fans a game at Salt River Fields. While the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 and a shortened season because of the lockout in 2022 caused a downfall in attendance numbers, Rockies fans still make a presence at the ballpark drawing about 6,000 to 8,000 a game. Weekend games draw more than weekday games and more fans visit when the Cubs or Dodgers are the opponents.
As with most Cactus League games, fans easily strike up conversations with their neighbors. You’ll see plenty of fans wearing purple spread across the seating areas. And, since it’s such a nice ballpark, many visiting team fans congregate near the visitor’s bullpen and dugout.
Salt River Fields is located just west of the Loop 101 Pima Fwy at the Indian Bend Rd or the Via De Ventura exits. Parking is available in three lots and costs $5, $10, or $25 for valet parking. Attendants driving golf carts bring fans back and forth from the parking areas to the entrances if desired. Give yourself some extra travel time when attending an evening game during the week because of heavier rush hour traffic.
If flying in, the closest airport is Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (about 18 miles southwest of the stadium). Public transportation is somewhat available via Valley Metro (mostly bus route 81). Be sure to visit Valley Metro for fare, schedules, and map information.
Three gates open an hour before the first pitch. Bags less than 16” x 16” x 8” are allowed. Fans walk through a metal detector and security personnel check bags. It’s painless.
The concourse is wide open and visitors see all the playing action while walking it. The ease of moving around the stadium during a game is admirable, though be cautious of uneven step heights when walking up and down the seating aisles. Plenty of ramps are available throughout the complex for those using wheelchairs and strollers. ADA seating lines the top of the grandstand on the concourse.
The ballpark provides many sets of clean and serviceable restrooms throughout the entire concourse.
Return on Investment 4
As with all spring training facilities, the prices have skyrocketed since days gone by. The Rockies are no exception. Spring training tickets run $15 for berm tickets to $47 for higher priced seats. Add a few bucks more for weekend games and popular opponents like the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs.
Food concession prices are high. Nine dollars for a Chick-fil-A sandwich, $8.75 for a Cold Stone Creamery cup, or $15.50 for a beer is more than you’d pay outside the stadium. This is, unfortunately, routine with stadium fare at many sports venues.
Five-dollar parking is common at some of the Cactus League venues. Stadium staff offer a free spring training program which is helpful.
Sign up for the designated driver program to get a free soda, bring in the two allowed bottles of water, and eat before or after the contest to save a couple of bucks when attending a game.
It is a remarkable facility and one that shouldn’t be missed if traveling for spring training in Arizona.
Several additional items are worth noting about attending a Dbacks spring training game at Salt River Fields.
First, each of the entrances is special, with fountains and sculptures, and the two branded entranceways in the outfield have a Rockies “team concepts” and a Dbacks “historic timeline” lining the respective ramps. Still outside the park are a nature walk around a small fishing lake, and a Veterans Circle (honoring Native American veterans).
The nature walk incorporates the Keli McGregor Reflection Trail on the west side of the complex. McGregor, a former Colorado Rockies president, was instrumental in the negotiations and agreements of building this new spring training facility and putting the finishing touches on the Rockies segment.
Keli McGregor Reflection Trail, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
The extras continue once you enter the park. You can peer over the bullpens and watch the pitchers warm up which makes you feel up close and personal with the player (even though you’re really not). The organization provides free SPF 30 sunscreen in two areas in the outfield, a very courteous touch. A popular, free small whiffle ball diamond offering pick-up games for kids is in the right field concourse. An attendant makes sure all kids get a chance to bat and play.
At eleven years old, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick continues to impress both local and visiting spring training fans. The experience at the ballpark is marvelous. Fan comfort is foremost with the shade, the ramps, the legroom, the food choices. If you have not yet been, put it on the list to visit.