Surprise Stadium - Surprise Saguaros
Photos by Meg Minard and Steve Ohnsman, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
Surprise Stadium 15930 N Bullard Ave. Surprise, AZ 85374
Year Opened: 2003
Built in 2002, Surprise Stadium is the spring training home for MLB’s Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. The stadium is part of the Surprise Recreation Campus in Surprise, AZ, which is in the farthest northwest corner of the Phoenix Metropolitan area. The stadium has a capacity of 10,714 and is the most distant stadium from central Phoenix and the airport. In the fall, the baseball stadium is home to the Arizona Fall League (AFL) Surprise Saguaros (pronounced Sah-WAR-ohs).
The Arizona Fall League is a developmental instructional baseball league played in various spring training complexes in the Greater Phoenix area. The season lasts a little over a month during October and November. Major league teams send some of their most highly touted prospects to play in the league for additional practice.
For the 2022 season, the Astros, Royals, Phillies, Pirates, and Rangers sent players from their minor league teams to join the Saguaros. These affiliations change over the years. The Saguaros have won three AFL Championships, most recently in 2022.
Besides it being pleasing to the eye, two of the best things about the stadium are its brightness – making it easy to keep score during night games– and some seats are just above the bullpens in the outfield, providing a unique perspective of the game.
Food & Beverage 2
One concession stand on the concourse behind home plate is open for Saguaros games, and that’s enough. Although minimal, the selection during the 2022 season is better than some other Fall League stadiums. Offerings include bratwurst sausages ($6), nachos ($5.50), and hot dogs ($5). There’s usually an additional Manager’s Special, like chicken tenders ($5). Snacks include Bavarian pretzels, popcorn, peanuts, and chips.
Drinks range from $3.25 - $5 and include water, sweet tea, and fountain soda (Coca-Cola brands). The concession stand sells a variety of domestic and craft canned beer.
It’s just enough to satisfy a hungry Saguaro (Sah-WAR-oh) fan.
Surprise Stadium offers a low-key, pleasantly delightful afternoon or evening of baseball.
A 360-degree concourse surrounds the field, good for getting your steps in without missing the action on the diamond. Standard green fold-down stadium seats with cupholders stretch from foul pole to foul pole. Fans walk down to their seats from the concourse. The second level is closed to fans for Fall League games. Handicapped seating lines the rim of the seating area on the concourse. Fans can sit wherever they prefer, which is standard for all Fall League games.
The infield concourse is sheltered in the event of weather.
A medium thick net extends across all seating. Several of the outer seating sections are tarped off during Fall League games. Sit in the seats above the bullpens for an inning or two to experience a unique and different viewpoint of the game.
The music volume is perfect if sitting just beyond the second level overhang sections (114 and 116 or 113 and 115). It’s noticeable but not too loud that you can’t hear the sounds of the game or chat with your neighbors. It’s much louder closer to the infield and under the speakers.
The field is remarkably green and plush, unusual for the dry conditions in Arizona.
The scoreboard sits in the left field berm and provides some advertisements and the line score.
The Saguaros staff set up a merchandise table on the concourse behind home plate. It offers merchandise for not only the Saguaros but other Fall League teams as well.
Surprise, AZ is known for having many active adult communities and residences. Many northerners migrate south for the winter or relocate permanently to the area for its warm weather. Surprise does not have a ‘downtown’ area and is more piecemealed with communities and strip malls. Construction crews are building more and more structures as the city grows in popularity.
Across the street from the stadium are the city-owned and operated tennis and racquet courts, the Surprise Community Park (walking trails, fishing pond, and picnic area), an aquatic center, and the library.
Places to eat and drink before or after the game require a vehicle. Many chain and fast food places are along Bell Rd. For non-chain suggestions, try Bonfire Craft Kitchen and Tap House, Saigon Kitchen (Vietnamese), or Irish Wolfhound Pub. State 48 Brewery has a brewpub a little over two miles from the stadium.
If outdoor activities interest you, at least eight golf courses dot the Surprise landscape, or take a hike at the White Tank Mountain Regional Park (17 miles from the ballpark).
The closest Fall League venue is Peoria Sports Complex, home of the Peoria Javelinas, 10 miles east. Camelback Ranch, where the AFL Glendale Desert Dogs play, is about a 30-min drive.
As with all Arizona Fall League games, many scouts attend the games, which can be an interesting experience for the more hardcore baseball fan. The fans in attendance are what one would consider baseball purists – fans who attend for the game itself and not all the extras that occur in minor and major league parks throughout North America.
The Saguaros drew about 350 – 450 fans per game in 2022.
Surprise Stadium is 40 miles from Sky Harbor Airport. No public transportation is available from the airport nor does Surprise have local bus service options. Driving is the only option.
Three entrances are open for Fall League games: left field, center field, and right field. The closest spot to park with the least walking is the West Fastball Dr parking lot; park on the west side of the lot and enter the left field side (first base) entrance. Parking is free for Fall League games. It’s one of the rare baseball venues where the ticket booth is outside center field, behind the batter’s eye.
Clear stadium bags are allowed though the signs indicating such are not easy to read and do not make fans feel welcome.
The 360-degree concourse is comfortably wide. Clean and serviceable restrooms are open on the inner concourse.
Return on Investment 4
Single game tickets are $10 (seniors 55+ are $8). Kids under 12 get in free. If you live in the area or are planning on attending 12 or more games, a season pass is a less expensive way to go. A single admission season pass is $125; a double admission pass is $150.
Parking is free, as it is at all Fall League parks.
Attending a baseball game on a warm fall day or evening for the game is absolutely worth the price.
The stadium features a Hall of Fame, highlighting plaques honoring both [eliminate word both] Royals and Rangers players, managers, as well as local community role models.
Paper copies of the starting lineup and rosters are available at the souvenir table, always a good thing for fans who keep score.
The seats above the dugouts deserve an extra mention.
Surprise Stadium is an attractive stadium and all staff members are quite pleasant. Fans attending Sah-WAR-ohs games here enjoy their time.