Munsey on Ballparks
Cactus League ballparks
by Paul Munsey (archive)
February 5, 2005
This week, I drove from California to Texas. To help break up the monotony of driving, I spent six hours on Wednesday visiting all nine Cactus League ballparks and taking photos. Allow me to share this brief experience with you.
I waited until rush hour traffic died down at about 8:30 AM., and didn't have any difficulty getting around that day. My first stop was Surprise Stadium, located on Bullard Avenue. I drove in from the east on Bell Road, but you can get there from I-10 by taking the Bullard Avenue exit and driving about ten miles north.
Surprise Stadium is big and new. It is part of a large complex of baseball fields built for the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. The complex is sort of out there by itself as of this writing, but they're building like crazy around there. It won't be long until the place is surrounded by trendy shops and restaurants.
Peoria Stadium is about eight miles down Bell Road driving east from Surprise Stadium. The San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners hold Spring Training in the large complex there. It's pretty easy to get to and it's in a very nice area. I noticed a P.F. Chang's, an Elephant Bar and a few other upscale restaurants and hotels across the street from the ballpark.
I made the mistake of taking Grand Avenue to get to Maryvale Baseball Park. If you are driving there from Peoria, I recommend taking Loop 101 south, to I-10 east, to 51st Avenue north to the ballpark.
Maryvale Baseball Park is home to the Milwaukee Brewers, and is part of the team's Spring Training complex. My records show that it was built in 1998, but it looks like it was built in the 1980s. Maryvale isn't the best part of Phoenix, and there doesn't appear to be much to do near the ballpark.
The three ballparks I just mentioned are northwest of downtown Phoenix. The next four ballparks are east of town. Phoenix covers a lot of area, and it can be maddening waiting for all those stoplights. I had good luck on the freeways, however, and suggest you use them whenever you can.
The next stop was Phoenix Municipal Stadium, the home of the Oakland Athletics, and my personal favorite. To get there from Maryvale, I took I-10 east, to Loop 202 east, exited on Priest Drive and drove north on that road for about a mile. The ballpark is nestled among office buildings in a hilly area and feels cozy. It was built in 1965, but is kept up very well, and retains its architectural style. Other than the stadium and another practice field, I didn't see much else in the way of practice facilities.
I got back on Loop 202 and headed east to Scottsdale Road. I headed north about four miles and turned right onto Osborn Road to get to Scottsdale Stadium, the home of the San Francisco Giants. It is a very nice facility, but the Giants want to build another facility with more space.
I took Scottsdale Road back to Loop 202 and headed east to McKellips Road. I drove east on McKellips Road, turned right on Center Street and headed south about a mile to HoHoKam Park, the home of the Chicago Cubs. The ballpark is big and is part of large practice complex. I didn't see any restaurants in the immediate area, but downtown Mesa is just a few blocks away.
I got back on Loop 202 and headed west. After several miles, I exited like I was going to the airport. There were signs for the terminals along the way and, just when I thought I had taken a wrong turn, I saw the sign for highway 143 south. I exited and stayed on the highway as it became S. 48th Street. I turned left onto W. Alameda Drive and Tempe Diablo Stadium was down the street on the left.
Tempe Diablo Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Angels, is adjacent to I-10 and you can see the traffic going by from the stands. The ballpark and the surrounding complex appear to be surrounded by an office park. There are fast food joints nearby, but I didn't see much in the way of restaurants.
It takes about an hour-and-a-half to get to Tucson from Phoenix. Traffic was heavy and there were a lot of trucks. It can be kind of tricky getting to Hi Corbett Field. I exited on W. Congress Street and followed it through downtown Tucson. Then, I took highway 210 east and exited on the left side onto E. 22nd Street. About a mile down the road, on the left, was Randolph Street. I took that street through the park and the ballpark was several hundred yards down the road on the left. Hi Corbett Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, is an older ballpark, but the park setting is very nice.
I went back the way I came in on E. 22nd Street, but kept driving over highway 210 and turned left on the Kino Parkway. Just before I got to I-10, there were signs directing me to Ajo Way. I followed the signs and continued on Ajo Way until I reached Tucson Electric Park.
The Tucson Sidewinders of the Pacific Coast League play there home games here during the regular season. During Spring Training, however, the facility is shared by the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox. It is a large ballpark, but I didn't see much in the way of practice fields nearby. It was fairly easy getting on I-10 and continuing on my way.
On a side note, I was driving on I-10 between El Paso and Fort Stockton later that night when all eastbound traffic was forced to go through a checkpoint. An immigration official asked me if I was a U.S. citizen and where I lived, then allowed me to pass. I remember a similar process many years ago while driving north on I-5 from San Diego to Los Angeles.
Am I the only one that finds it offensive to be arbitrarily interrogated by a government agent in my own country? Everyone knows that immigration control is a joke, which makes the interrogation experience even more difficult to take.
Paul Munsey is the editor of Ballparks.com.
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