You can find a lot of information on the Internet about spring training in the Valley, but much of it is written for out-of-state visitors who want to watch their favorite teams play, rather than locals. If you live in Scottsdale, here’s what you need to know about the Cactus League schedule:
Basics: Fifteen teams—exactly half of the teams of Major League Baseball—come to the Phoenix area during the month of March to play Cactus League exhibition games, which serve as a pre-season warm-up for players already under contract and an opportunity for others to earn a spot on the roster. The remaining teams play spring training games in the Grapefruit League in Florida.
Teams: The teams that play in the Valley for spring training are: the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, and Cincinnati Reds.
Stadiums: Games take place at 10 stadiums in nine cities throughout the Valley (five teams share one stadium), including Scottsdale Stadium, home of the San Francisco Giants. That stadium is located in downtown Scottsdale and can cause congestion in that area on game days, which is something to be aware of if you have plans in Old Town on those days. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies share Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on the outskirts of Scottsdale, just off the 101 at Indian Bend Road.
Traffic: Cactus League play can affect traffic around stadiums in March before and after games. Most afternoon games start at 1:05 p.m., while most evening games start at 7:05 or 7:10 p.m. Stadiums open up to two hours before the first pitch, so busiest times in the area will usually be 11 am-1 pm and immediately after the game, right before or during rush hour. Here’s a good online calendar with start times.
People: For many fans, part of the experience is going out for a bite after the game. That means your favorite restaurant near the stadium may be more crowded than usual during March. Keep in mind, too, that many out-of-state fans end up staying at Scottsdale resorts and hotels. As a result, restaurants in the area will likely be more crowded than usual, so it’s wise to plan ahead.
Upside: One of the perks of living in Scottsdale, though, is the Cactus League. Even if you’re not a baseball fan, there’s nothing better than spending an afternoon in shorts and a baseball cap while the rest of the country is digging its way out of the latest snowstorm. Best of all, you can do this for next to nothing, compared to average regular season ticket prices. Tickets start at $5 at some stadiums for berm (grass) seating and $35 for premium box seats.
Tickets: Each stadium has its own ticketing policy. Depending on the team, you may be able to purchase tickets online through the team’s website or a ticketing agency. Others may require you to purchase tickets from the box office. Click here for more information about where to get tickets for your favorite team. Tickets are also sometimes available through eBay and Craigslist, but you may not be able to tell whether these are legitimate until you get to the gate.
Scalping: You are going to see scalpers hawking extra tickets around the stadium. Scalping is legal in Arizona so long as the tickets are sold no less than 200 ft from the stadium’s entrance. If you plan to pick up tickets from a scalper on the way into a game, bring a seating chart and plenty of cash.
Parking: Most stadiums charge for parking. Expect to pay $10 on average. Several cities have free shuttle services to and from the games, though. In Scottsdale, four different Scottsdale Trolley routes service the San Francisco Giants’ stadium. If you want to attend a Cubs game at Sloan Park, you can park at the Tempe Marketplace and catch a shuttle near the Thirsty Lion Gastropub & Grill and Kabuki Japanese Restaurant. You can also walk over easily from Mesa Riverview.
Security info: Each stadium will have its own guidelines of what you can and can’t bring. These are the general guidelines:
No hard sided coolers of any size
No bags larger than 16” by 16” by 8”
All fruit must be sliced prior to entering the park
No cans, glass containers, open containers, alcohol, or weapons
All bags will be inspected before they are permitted into the ball park
Now, get out there and enjoy springtime baseball with other local and visitors alike!