The Dodgers are rolling into the spring training season with a full head of steam, thanks to the off-season acquisitions of superstar outfielder Mookie Betts and starting pitcher David Price.
That’s the thing about baseball: There’s always something new or noteworthy.
In Glendale, Ariz., spring home of the Dodgers, fans interested in off-the-field experiences will applaud the opening of Ballpark Boulevard, a 1.62-mile road designed to streamline traffic to and from the ballpark and to Glendale’s Westgate Entertainment District, 8 million square feet of office, parks, shopping, dining and entertainment.
“The opening of Ballpark Boulevard north of Camelback Ranch-Glendale will greatly enhance the spring training experience for Dodger fans traveling to Arizona this spring,” said Dodgers president and chief executive Stan Kasten, who was on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Fans can now approach our beautiful campus from the north, and the new stretch of road will provide a streamlined exit for those heading to the many entertainment choices in Glendale.”
Westgate is also home to the recently reopened and expanded 75,000-square-foot Desert Diamond Casino, with a gaming floor that includes poker and blackjack tables with live bingo and five restaurants. It’s the largest of its kind in Arizona and is owned and operated by the Tohono O’Odham Nation.
Farther down Glendale Avenue, Haus Murphy’s, an old-fashioned German biergarten and taproom, serves German beer on draft and traditional Old-World dishes, such as sauerbraten, schnitzel, sausages and giant pretzels, accompanied by polka music.
The Dodgers will face rival San Francisco Giants at the spring opener Saturday at the recently renovated Scottsdale Stadium.
The spiffing-up includes a new 10,000-square-foot home-team clubhouse and year-round municipal event and conference center, a mass transit and ride-hail pickup and drop-off lane in front of the new Home Plate entrance, and the expansion of the Charro Lodge premium ballpark party section perched above the Giants’ bullpen and right field wall.
Old Town and downtown Scottsdale will always have an air of nostalgia, fueled in part by the Hotel Valley Ho, which dates to 1956. Valley Ho and the Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale, along the foothills of Camelback Mountain, both offer a three-night Play Ball package that includes a $100 resort credit and a $20 breakfast credit.
In its 10th season as shared spring home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, Salt River Fields was recently named the best spring training ballpark of the decade by BallparkDigest.com.
The Dodgers play the Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields on Feb. 25 and the Rockies on Feb. 29 at Camelback Stadium.
The Angels were also big players during the off-season signing 2019 World Series hero and former Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon to a seven-year, $245-million contract.
The long-anticipated return to the pitching mound of 2018 Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani has also been delayed until May because of surgery to his left knee last season. Ohtani is scheduled to resume the other part of his dual role as the team’s designated hitter on opening day.
The Angels have been working at Tempe Diablo Stadium since 1993. It opened in 1969 as the first and only spring training home to the one-season wonder Seattle Pilots and also has served as home park to the Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners. Its 9,558 capacity is the smallest in the Cactus League.
The Angels open the Cactus League season Feb. 22 against the Chicago White Sox (who share Camelback Ranch with the Dodgers). The Halos play their first home game at Diablo Stadium against the Colorado Rockies on Feb. 23.
Tempe Diablo Stadium is in the middle of the vibrant Arizona State University campus and thus has no shortage of dining, drinking and entertainment options. The day games start at 1:05 or 1:10 and conclude around 4 or 4:30, funneling right into happy hour in downtown Tempe.
A plethora of breweries and brew pubs in the area includes the Four Peaks Brewing Co. offering pre-game tours of its 8th Street brewery before eight games on the Angels home schedule. A $15 ticket includes a Kilt Lifter bratwurst (made with the brewery’s signature scotch ale), a pint of any Four Peaks beer, a baseball hat and a walking tour highlighting the brewery’s history.
Tucked into a small residential pocket, the Shop Brewery, a block off Tempe’s University Drive, is the former home of Harry Mitchell, a Tempe mayor and later a U.S. congressman, and his son Mark, the current mayor of Tempe. It has a rotation of 15 beers on draft and cans and bottles to go.
Just across University Drive, the Taste of Topps taproom connected to Topps Liquors offers a selection of draft and bottled beers, including 30 rotating craft taps and more than 600 varieties of bottled and canned craft beer to drink on premise or to take out.
Fitting in with the campus theme the Graduate Hotel feels like a hybrid of a college dorm and 1960s and ’70s inspired boutique hotel. It’s right on the Arizona State University campus with a direct view of the ASU Gammage Theater and Old Main mall. Shuttle service is also available for Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport. The hotel offers a spring-training package that includes a $25 dining credit, and two complimentary morning cocktails and free parking.
Tempe’s Innings Festival, Feb. 29 and March 1, might be the premier baseball-related entertainment event. It will have batting cages and baseball celebrities, including former Dodgers and Angels players such as Eric Davis and Wally Joyner and a two-day music festival featuring headliners Weezer and the Dave Matthews Band and a variety of rock, pop and alt country artists at Tempe Beach Park.
The Dodgers and Angels will square off at Camelback Ranch on Feb. 26 and at Diablo Stadium on March 20.