Peoria, AZ, USA; General view of the game between the San Diego Padres and the Chicago White Sox at Peoria Stadium. Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
There's plenty of baseball at this complex that's shared by two teams. But the best part of the Peoria Sports Complex could be the food.
This ballpark, constructed in 1994 and seating about 11,000, has the best selection of food of any of the 10 spring training venues in the Phoenix area.
Fish tacos. Salad wraps. Grilled BBQ chicken and beef. Teriyaki chicken bowls (and cheaper than in either Scottsdale or Mesa). Tons of beer selections at reasonable prices. They even have an all-you-can-eat deal for $25 on Tuesdays, which includes a lawn ticket and as much as you can stuff into your face of basic ballpark fare like hot dogs, burgers, fries and soft drinks (alcohol not included in this deal, though).
Oh, you want to know about baseball and amenities. Still, the food is really good...
Anyway, the 11,000 seats include one of the larger lawn areas in the Cactus League, which makes Peoria Sports Complex very kid-friendly; on a recent visit, small kids were running all over the place, entertaining themselves and likely pleasing their parents, who were able to enjoy the game without having to constantly supervise. Lawn tickets are plentiful on most days and are the cheapest in Arizona, just $6. As with all the other shared complexes in Arizona -- of which Peoria's was the first -- practice fields for both teams surround the main stadium. The Mariners and Padres encourage people to make a day of watching practice:
All Mariners and Padres Practice Fields have covered bleachers. Patrons are permitted to bring their own portable chairs and shade to these areas, provided it does not obstruct the view of others.
Food, beverage and coolers are permitted in the Practice Fields, with the exception of glass containers and alcoholic beverages. Concessions are open for purchase at select events.
Pets are permitted in the Practice Fields provided they are leashed. Owners should pick up and properly dispose of pet waste.
Sounds like fun if you want to hang out and watch the future of your team practice and play on the minor-league fields. You can also get fairly close to the major-league bullpens, one on each side of the field, before and during games and watch pitchers warm up.
Other tickets at Peoria are also in the reasonable range; the top price for both Padres and Mariners games is $23 and, even with spring training in full swing due to spring breaks this week and next, tickets are still available for most dates. With two teams sharing the complex, there are generally games just about every day. This year, with the Mariners heading to Japan for opening games against the Athletics, there will be a couple of off days next week, but then the Mariners will return for three more exhibition games from March 31-April 2 before they start the North American portion of their regular season.
When the Peoria Sports Complex was built in 1994, it seemed like the edge of the Earth to many spring-training visitors. Highway Loop 101, which now surrounds the Phoenix area, had not yet been completed and traveling to Peoria from Mesa or Scottsdale meant a stop-and-go trip down Bell Road, which could take an hour or more and felt like you were going to Peoria, Illinois, rather than its Arizona counterpart (which, in fact, was named for the Midwestern city, where a number of the Arizona town's first residents were from). Now, with freeways all over the Phoenix landscape, you can get to Peoria in 45 minutes or less from just about anywhere.
Peoria, Arizona isn't known for its culinary delights. However, the stadium, which is on 83rd Avenue just south of Bell Road, is across the street from the Arrowhead Towne Center (ugh, another modern location trying to sound old-fashioned with pretentious-sounding "Towne"), a large regional mall where there's just about every national fast-food and sit-down restaurant chain known to humankind. And if you can't find those in the mall, you'll find them on 83rd Avenue... and if you're a fan of In-n-Out Burger, there's one on Bell Road just east of 83rd Avenue, the closest In-n-Out location to any spring training ballpark in Arizona.
Did I mention food? Now I'm getting hungry. If you go to Peoria Sports Complex, bring your appetite.
Phoenix Municipal Stadium