I’m so thrilled to be working with the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau again this month, this time to share one of my absolute favorite things to do here in AZ!
Living in Arizona has it’s perks, the biggest of which is probably the weather. Warm year round, only *hot* about 2-3 months out of the year… It’s fantastic. One of the perks the weather brings us is the huge draw for Major League Baseball teams to have their Spring Training here, and we have TONS of teams who have done so. As a matter of fact, 15 of the Major League Baseball teams play in 10 of the most beautiful ballparks in the country right here, every spring, in Scottsdale and the Valley of the Sun metro region. Beginning in mid-February and running through the end of March, baseball fans have their pick of teams and venues every single day at 1:00 in the afternoon and, on certain days, 7:00 in the evening as well; there are more than 200 games on the schedule, so for baseball fans (like our family), it’s like a dream come true.
Of course our favorite field for a Spring Training game is at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, which happens to be the home field for our home team- the Arizona Diamondbacks- shared with the Colorado Rockies. Being a baseball loving family means that Spring Training has always been enjoyable for us, but since 2011 it’s been even more exciting since our home team is now here in town rather than a 2 hour drive south to Tucson. We’re really loving this field and getting to support our home team during Spring Training!
Earlier this month we made plans to go see the Cubs (my husband’s hometown team) play the Diamondbacks (our hometown team) one evening at Salt River Fields. Though AZ gets very little rainfall each year, it happened to be that the day before and the day of the game we got a TON of rain. We kept checking the Salt River Fields website and Facebook page to see if the game was going to be cancelled, but 2 hours before the game it was still on. Since it was close to dinnertime we decided to head over to Portillos for dinner before going to the game.
Portillos is a restaurant that was new to our family, though we’d been meaning to try it. Since my husband is from Chicago (and his family still lives there) he has a love affair with Italian Beef sandwiches with sweet peppers. For as long as I’ve known him he’s tried restaurant after restaurant in Phoenix and the surrounding areas trying to find a place that tastes “like home”, but we had yet to have success. We had high hopes for Portillos… Of course walking in the ambiance was fun, and then seeing the menu made my husband perk up a bit- they had Italian Beef sandwiches, tamales, and more! The kids were happy to see hamburgers and hot dogs on the menu.
We got our food and everyone took our first bite. We all thought it was really, really good. I don’t think there was much talking out of any of us (next to impossible with our 4 kids) but we really were enjoying our food SO much there was no way we were stopping for small talk! My husband was beyond pleased, and for the first time in all of our ‘Chicago style restaurant’ attempts I heard the words I’d been waiting to hear from my husband- “Just like home”. Success!!
On to the game, where we were hoping for more success. It was cold and rainy but we tromped in there, found our seats and waited, hoping to be able to see the teams warm-up before the game and possibly catch a practice ball. No luck. The field was covered with tarps to keep it dry before the game.
It wasn’t long before the rain started and we had to seek shelter under the concourse with the rest of the fans at the stadium. After about 20 minutes of being there, the rain really began to come down and the large group of die-hard fans still waiting there were met with a depressing sight:
We weren’t giving up though. A week later we headed to another Spring Training game, this time with cloudy skies and a gorgeous 74 degrees!
While the game wasn’t against my husband’s Cubbies, we still got to watch our DBacks play! We bought tickets in the lawn seat section, which happens to be a favorite spot for the kids (okay, us too) because there’s lots of grass and open space for them to run around in and hills to roll down, not to mention how close we are to the outfield and the outfield players, and, of course, being in home run territory! This particular game we happened to miss a home run by a mere 8-10 ft (close enough we saw ourselves on TV when we watched the game highlights that night on the news)!
Aside from great seating at the stadium (you really get a great view no matter where you sit), this mama also loves that no matter where you go in the venue you’re close to bathrooms (amazingly clean bathrooms, thankyouverymuch) and concessions, and in multiple places near the lawn seats are spots with complimentary sunscreen- a must if you want to keep from getting burned! Not only do we love the stadium and seating, but the folks at Salt River Field are friendly and helpful as ever.
This particular game lasted 10 innings before ending in a tie. Not the win we were hoping for, but not a loss either. We had a blast enjoying a great game, gorgeous weather, cheering on our home team, and relaxing on the grass.
We weren’t the only ones, of course. While many AZ locals come to enjoy the games, we also see tons of visitors from out of town here to enjoy them as well. According to mlb.com, the average attendance for 2014 Spring Training games reached a record high of 8078 fans per game over 447 games played. This year we may have seen more than usual as the rest of the country was dreaming of the day the temperature would reach above zero degrees. What better place to come visit than warm, sunny AZ, where you can enjoy not just the weather, but your pick of Spring Training games as well?! The average game lasts 3 hours, so there’s plenty of time before and after to explore the other amazing sites, eats and activities in Scottsdale. Check out Experience Scottsdale for suggestions and ideas!
Spring Training may be over for this year, but now we’re excited to cheer on our DBacks during regular season play! Plus, we know once the regular season is over we only have to wait a few short months before it all starts back over again at the 2015 Spring Training.
Ah- I LOVE AZ!
I was compensated for the above mentioned activities in order to complete my review. All thoughts expressed are my own.