Spring Training: Our Vicinity’s Home Field Advantage

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If you’re ready to answer the call of “Take me out to the ballgame” this Spring Training season (March 1 – April 2), we’ve got the abundance of two great stadiums right here in our vicinity: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, nominally in Scottsdale but actually on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and Scottsdale Stadium, the only stadium in the Cactus League located in the heart of a bustling downtown. These are great attractions for yourself, and for all the relatives and friends who flock to visit you for the occasion.

“Take me out to …” — Salt River Fields at Talking Stick

Spring Training home to both our hometown Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies, the facility’s stadium and 12 practice fields give baseball fans plenty of opportunity to get autograph-close to the players and the 360-degree access around the main stadium makes it easy to meet up with friends. View the game from one of the 11,000 seats or spread a blanket on either of two lawns. There is also a flat rail behind the seating areas where you can rest your drink and enjoy a great view of the game. Kids getting a little antsy? Take them to the “kid zone” for a turn at bat and a chance to run the bases.

Some attributes may be under your radar when you’re there, but they’re definitely a factor in ensuring your good time. The concession promenade is wide and airy, covered but still affording views of the surrounding mountains and with the stands designed to put food lines out of traffic flow. Along with traditional ballpark fare, there are local favorites and authentic fry bread. Luxury suites and party decks occupy the upper two levels.

Salt River Fields at Talking Stick offers visitors more than a strictly baseball experience, and it’s worth it to wander a little before, during or after the game. Native influences permeate the complex, from the east-facing staging of the main stadium to the Veterans Circle (off one of the seven parking areas) for native dancers and other Community ceremonial activities. Signs at the main gates greet visitors in both O-Odham (Pima) and Piipaash (Maricopa), and both languages are also used in the many pictorial displays of Community history. Landscaping preserves much of the original land, and is enhanced with artwork such as life-sized bronzes of native waterfowl standing in the stream that runs along one side of the facility.

Scottsdale-Stadium

Scottsdale Stadium

“… the ballgame” — Scottsdale Stadium

The San Francisco Giants are the attraction at Scottsdale Stadium. The facility is one of the oldest of our Spring Training facilities, and one of the smallest, so there’s a very strong sense of old-time baseball here, with all seats feeling close to the field — in talking distance, in fact, to the Giants’ coaches, who are not beyond engaging with the fans, although that’s more likely during practices than during games. And it’s so satisfying to watch a batter blast one outta the park.

Scottsdale Charros offers another option to the stadium’s field-level seats for fans’ viewing. Charro Lodge occupies the raised deck spanning the right field fence, a great vantage point for the grand view of all the action on the field, with Camelback Mountain as the background. Tickets for Charro Lodge can be purchased ahead or as an upgrade for fans already in the stadium — but, while the terrace section may have seats available, the canopy-covered pavilion area and umbrella-protected tables of the sun deck are usually sold out by game time, according to Charros program manager Beth Burnett.

The extra attraction of Charro Lodge is its all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink menu. Margaritas, wine and nine different beers augment the typical non-alcoholic refreshments, and adding flair to the usual ballpark fare is catering by one of a rotating roster of favorite restaurants in our community. Along with the view and bottomless refreshments, the ticket price helps The Charro Foundation support the Scottsdale School District and numerous other local charities — which it has done to the tune of millions of dollars since its founding in 1961.

Local restaurants will be sharing some of their most popular items as Charro Lodge food partners: Fill your plate with Grimaldi’s hot pizza, cool salad and yummy cannolis on March 3; The Beverly’s Mac ’n Cheese and Southwest Chicken Sandwich on March 8; Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse’s prime beef sliders with barbecue butter on March 11; and The Vig’s Street Tacos and Artichoke Dip on March 18. Salty Senorita opens the season on March 2, and returns on March 13 and 25. Other restaurants are Wasted Grain on March 5, 6, 19 and 27; Old Town Tortilla Factory on March 9; and Macayo’s on March 12 and 24.

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