Surprise Stadium – Kansas City Royals Spring Training
Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Surprise Stadium 15930 N. Bullard Ave Surprise, AZ 85374 Map It!
Year Opened: 2002 Capacity: 10,714
Royals Spring in AZ
After the MLB Kansas City Athletics moved west to Oakland CA in 1968, the Kansas City Royals began play in Missouri in 1969. That team’s first spring training home was Terry Park Field in Ft Myers FL; the Royals played there till 1987. After that, they moved north to the now defunct Baseball City Stadium, part of the financially disastrous Boardwalk and Baseball theme park in Haines City FL. When their contract expired at the end of the 2002 season, the Royals packed up and moved to Surprise Stadium, a brand new $20-million park in Surprise AZ.
The Royals share their spring ball stadium with the Texas Rangers. The Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League play their home games at the venue. Owned and managed by the city of Surprise Sports & Tourism, the stadium is celebrating its 20th season in 2022. It boasts wide open concourses and plaza areas, and is shared equally between the two teams.
It’s a comfortable facility to catch a Royals spring training game in February or March.
Food & Beverage 4
Surprise Stadium provides a considerable number of refreshment choices for the baseball fan. Offerings are in permanent stands, others in carts, trucks, and kiosks along the concourse and the plazas. The latter always tastes better, and that’s what we recommend checking out.
Fans can purchase juicy Italian sausage, bratwurst ($9.25), meat burgers, portobello burgers, and hot dogs ($9.25 – $11). Top Taco on the third base side sells tacos trays at $15 – $16 (enough for two or more people) or a Desert Cactus margarita at $19.
For snacks, carnival-like lemonade, funnel cake / elephant ears, fries and curly fries, corn dogs, etc run $9 – $10 at several kiosks. Best of all is a red Sweeties ice cream truck on the third base concourse plaza; a nice treat for those warm spring days and evenings in Surprise AZ.
Most concession menus have a calorie count listed.
The stadium serves Coca-Cola brands of soda ($5.50/$10) or bottles ($6).
A good variety of craft and domestic beer is on sale, including Boulevard Beer – a brewery based in Kansas City, and Huss Brewing – based in Phoenix. Be sure to check out the Huss Brewing Container Bar area on the first base plaza. Concession areas serve traditional domestic brands like Bud Light, Coors, Michelob Ultra, Hard Seltzer and the like. Beer prices cost around $13 or $14; wine and cocktails cost $9 – $17 depending on choice.
Surprise Stadium allows fans to bring outside food in so long as it is in a clear Ziploc bag.
The Royals offer a fine afternoon or evening of spring ball. The Surprise Sundancers – a spring training volunteer services group – extend heartfelt warmth, greetings and assistance to all visitors to Surprise Stadium. They run the 50/50 raffle each game and host a charity game each spring. All proceeds go to youth-related programs and scholarships.
The Royals side of the stadium is third base with the team offices in the left field corner and Royals banners down the third base concourse. Fans can walk the entire concourse and watch the play of game.
The sun sets behind the grandstand; infield seats get the shade. Seats down the baselines get the sun, so there’s enough variance to suit everyone’s preference. Berm seating is available in the outfield (but not directly in front of the batter’s eye). Royals fans can peer over the bullpen in left field and watch pitchers warm up.
Protective netting extends to the end of the seating area with only the last two sections on each baseline net-free (sections 121-124). Fans like to congregate here pregame in hopes of receiving an autograph or two.
The scoreboard is in left field and has two unique features: one, it has an analog clock at the top (nice touch)!, and two, colored circles indicate the balls, strikes, and outs with green for balls, red for strikes and outs.
Surprise Stadium Scoreboard, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
The music volume is perfect with even some moments of blessed silence. Game day staff does not play music at all during the starting lineup announcement. Sweet! More stadiums should take note of this. And, music is only played between innings, the way it should be.
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 is the city-owned and operated tennis and racquet courts, the Surprise Community Park (walking trails, fishing pond, 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 crowds at Surprise are usually on the sedate side more than the boisterous side, which is exactly what makes a Royals spring training visit an enjoyable one. They realize spring training does not have a pennant race and is a time to try out the prospects from the minors. This past 2022 spring training season, the fans were eager to see touted prospect and now rookie, Bobby Witt Jr, in the game.
Surprise Stadium is the farthest spring training facility in the Cactus League from downtown Phoenix, about a 45+ min drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. If coming from the south and west, we highly recommend taking the 303 Loop even though it’s longer in mileage. That route has far fewer traffic lights and congestion than other choices. Public transportation is not available to Surprise Stadium.
Gates open 1 ½ hours before the first pitch. Parking is free, always a welcome feature. Three gates are open, all in the outfield. It’s one of the rare spring training venues where the ticket booth is outside center field, behind the batter’s eye.
After getting through security, fans walk down and around the wide-open plazas and concourse to get to the seating area. Sundancers are readily available with wheelchairs to assist anyone who might have difficulty with the walk to their seats. Clear bags are allowed though the signs indicating such are not easy to read and do not make fans feel welcome.
Surprise Stadium Unfriendly Bag Sign, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
Clean restrooms are available behind the batter’s eye and along the inner concourse.
Return on Investment 4
As with all Cactus League stadiums, spring training tickets have increased dramatically. More affordable tickets may be available on third party sites. Check those first before purchasing from the team site. The free parking and the team allowing fans to bring in food and bottles of water help reduce some of the costs.
Several team stores and tents line the concourses and plazas, each with a good variety of clothing and merchandise.
The stadium features a Hall of Fame highlighting plaques honoring both Royals and Rangers players and managers, as well as local community role models. In addition, the field is named Billy Parker Field. Billy Parker was a former MLB and MiLB player and the City of Surprise Director of Parks and Recreation.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2022, Surprise Stadium is a pleasant venue for faithful Royals fans and residents of the West Valley to enjoy a few hours of spring ball.