- Meg Minard
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick – Arizona Diamondbacks 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
Arizona Diamondbacks Spring Training website
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick website
Year Opened: 2011
Dbacks Spring Home
The Arizona Diamondbacks play their spring ball at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick. It is the beautiful spring training facility for the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks and celebrated its 10th season in 2021. Prior to the 2011 season, the Diamondbacks played their first three years in Tucson, AZ at Kino Sports Complex.
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. It’s quite a remarkable sight. 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 Diamondback fans are proud to call it their spring training home.
Food & Beverage 5
Salt River Fields offers an outstanding choice of nourishment, snacks and drinks; some standard fare, others more elaborate. Permanent concessions line the infield concourse with a few more on the center field concourse. Each one sells something a bit different. The Show near the home plate entrance 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. Home Plate Hot Dog … well, you get the idea.
The concessions in center field 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 occupy areas down each baseline. Fans can get their margarita, nacho, and chips & salsa fix at Salty Senoritas (a local Scottsdale establishment).
Fans looking for adult beverages will find beer carts throughout the concourse selling a plethora of canned domestic and craft beers, and seltzers ($14 – $15.50). A Home Plate Bar sells cocktails; other carts on the concourse 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 SRF ($6 – $7.50). Bottled water runs $5.
Certainly a remarkable number of choices for a spring training facility!
The facility is adorned with beautiful landscaping both inside and outside. This 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. A traditional Native American ramada shade is incorporated into the venue as a way to shade 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 so only the last few sections are net free. About 85% of the seating area gets the shade by the end of an afternoon game. The infield, especially behind home plate and the 200 level, gets shade the entire game. Handy drink rails are on concourse columns as well as some sections just above the seating. The entire design allows fans multiple observation areas.
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. Step depths are odd, short in some spots, then all of a sudden, the step depth changes to ‘standard.’ So, be aware when walking up and down them.
The grassy berm in the outfield is a popular seating choice for many families and visitors who bring blankets and spread out to enjoy the sun and delightful sounds of a baseball game. Peddlers sell beer, water, and peanuts in the berm areas.
Berm Areas at Salt River Fields, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
The music level isn’t too loud; the 100 level seats are further away from the speakers. Bobby Freeman, the long-time organist for the Arizona Diamondbacks, makes his presence at spring training games serenading fans with long ago forgotten organ music.
An extremely crowded souvenir shop is down the third base concourse; there’s no room to move between the people and the racks and shelves. Our recommendation is to visit that store during the game to avoid the congestion. A smaller satellite merchandise area with mainly just clothing is on the concourse nearer the home plate entrance.
Unfortunately, the team no longer provides handouts of starting lineups and rosters; instead, they are taped to an information table. The teams installed a greatly improved scoreboard on the left field grassy berm several years ago. It provides the lineup, current pitcher and batter names, line score, some video, etc.
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 Dbacks 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. And, it has happy hour specials during the week; good for visiting before an evening game at Salt River Fields.
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 which is 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.
For nearby lodgings, a Great Wolf Lodge (and water park) is across the parking lot. For rooms a bit more affordable, a Staybridge Hotel is within walking distance (less than ½ mile). A Hampton Inn & Suite 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 Colorado Rockies 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 Diamondbacks have the shortest spring training commute in the majors, with their Cactus League park a scant half hour from their regular season home, Chase Field. And while the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 and a shortened season because of the lockout in 2022 caused a downfall in attendance numbers, Dbacks fans still make a large presence at the ballpark. Weekend games draw more than weekday games and the stadium is full 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 red spread across the seating area. 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. Give yourself some extra travel time when attending an evening game during the week because of heavier rush hour traffic.
When flying in for a spring training game, 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). If needed, the connecting light rail may not be operating after a night game. Check Valley Metro for fare, schedules, and maps.
Three gates open an hour before the first pitch. Bags less than 16” x 16” x 8” are allowed. Fans who use clear stadium bags get through the security check quicker.
Salt River Fields Homeplate Entrance and Security Check, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
The concourse is wide open and fans can 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.
Many sets of clean and serviceable restrooms are open at Salt River Fields.
Return on Investment 4
As with all spring training facilities, the prices have skyrocketed since days gone by. The Dbacks are no exception. In fact, ticket prices at Chase Field are on par with their spring training venue prices. Spring training tickets run $19 – $22 for berm tickets to $52 – $57 for higher priced seats, depending on game and opponent. The more popular teams like Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs have the higher ticket costs.
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, typical with stadium fare at many sports venues.
Five-dollar parking is common at Cactus League venues. Attendants 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 game 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 in some way, with fountains and sculpture, and the two branded entranceways in the outfield have a Dbacks historic timeline and Rockies team concepts 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 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.
Finally, a free small whiffle ball diamond offering pick up games for kids is in the right field concourse. It’s quite popular with the little ones and 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. It has been honored with many awards such as ‘best spring training park’ or ‘best baseball experience’ by notable sports organizations. If you have not yet been, put it on the list to visit.