Spring Training 2016: A Field Guide to the Entire Season
Have you noticed traffic getting worse throughout the Valley already? Maybe you've seen some of the older snowbirds begin to leave and a new crowd of visitors take over the Phoenix area's streets, highways, restaurants, malls, and bars. If you have, then you likely don't even have to check your calendar to see what time of the year it is. You already know it's time for the Cactus League.
With 15 MLB organizations spread across 10 different stadiums, spring training is one of the busiest times for Phoenix. It's a chance for much of the country to escape their frigid February and March temperatures and see the baseball teams they'll cheer on for the rest of the year, and it's an opportunity for the Valley to show off everything it has to offer to a crowd that otherwise might never see it.
Areas like Old Town Scottsdale and Glendale's Westgate Entertainment District will be crawling with fans of the teams in those areas, and hotels from Talking Stick Resort to Goodyear will likely be full for the better part of March. As always, businesses will be counting on the extra baseball-related income to last them through the slower summer months, while uninterested Valley residents will be cursing the amount of traffic on the 101 and drunk tourists at their favorite clubs and dive bars. Make the best of it, and ask all of your now-crowded preferred spots if they've got any deals going on for the pre-season.
Whether you're in it for America's favorite pastime of baseball or America's favorite hobby of drinking excessively, we put together a guide with everything you need to know about the Cactus League.
When and Where: Cactus League games begin March 1 (practices are already occurring) and end April 2 at stadiums all over the Valley. A schedule of all the games and map of the stadiums is available through the league's website.
Price: Prices vary by stadium and section, but lawn seats (which are perfect if you don't actually plan on watching the game) can often be found for around $10 to most games. If you can find a game that has them available, seats behind home plate will set you back roughly $50, and there are numerous options for suites and packages, if you're looking to spend a lot more. Your best bet is to go through the league's site once again to find tickets (or Craigslist/eBay, if they're sold out).
Age Limits: Spring training games are family-friendly affairs. Sure, there are beer garden-like areas at many stadiums, but they're still just baseball games. Actually, kids often have a good time getting autographs and seeing their favorite players up close, so bring your Little League star.
Teams: Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers
Getting There: Leave early and prepare to pay for parking. If you're going to Uber, expect a surge around the beginning and ends of game times. Scout parking nearby ahead of time and use it to your advantage.
Parking: Most stadiums have plenty of parking available, but it'll be a pain to get in and out of, and probably cost you some dough (like any other sporting event).
Weather: It's Arizona in March. If you're going to a late game, you may want a jacket. During the day, you'll probably need sunscreen. Check the weather on whatever you're using to read this.
Bring: Sunglasses, sunscreen, hats, and other sunburn-preventing devices to day games. Maybe a Sharpie and a ball or something for players to autograph if you're into that kind of thing. It's a baseball game — you've probably at least seen part of one on TV.
Don't Bring: Any of the dozens of things most stadiums outlaw. Check the stadiums' sites for specific lists, but obvious items like weapons, drugs, and giant coolers probably should be left in the car.
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