The Padres return to action on Feb. 24, and while they may not be playing in Petco Park just yet, they are just a road trip away. Spring Training for Major League Baseball is upon us, and that means the Padres and the other West Coast baseball teams will be in Arizona ramping up their activity for the upcoming season.
There is plenty of young talent to be showcased in Arizona during Spring Training, and there will be an exciting team to watch regardless of if you are a Padres fan or not. Peoria Ballpark, the Padres facility, is going to be a hotspot throughout the month, but there are plenty of ballparks worth a visit during your time in the Phoenix area.
Below is a guide to attending Spring Training this season, and I feel as if I can consider myself an expert on this topic considering I just booked a trip of my own to Arizona during Spring Break.
Let’s start with transportation. How are you going to get to Phoenix? If you leave from campus, the drive can be anywhere from five to six hours on the long desert roads. With a friend in the passenger seat keeping you company— and splitting the cost of gas— this drive is more than doable. This is the form of transportation I’ve chosen for my trip, but consider stopping by a local auto shop to make sure your car has the juice to make it to Phoenix and back. I’m not completely trusting of my 2001 Acura, so she’s going to be paying Evans Tire and a nearby auto shop a visit before we hop on the highway.
The other option is to book a flight to Phoenix, but between Ubers and airport traffic, I’m not sure how convenient that could be. Not to mention, if you are going with a friend or two, you will miss out on a memorable road trip experience.
Now that we have transportation covered, where are you going to stay during your trip? Spring Training happens at the same time every year, and hotels know this, so prepare for them to be pricier than normal. The ballparks the West Coast teams play at are scattered throughout Phoenix, in towns such as Goodyear, Peoria, Tempe and Surprise. Try to find a hotel that is in a decent range of all these stadiums, but the hotel location all depends on which games you’ll be going to during your trip. Personally, I’m going to four different ballparks on four different days, so finding a place to sleep that is equidistant from all the ballparks was a challenge.
Hotels aren’t cheap though, so Airbnb could be the next best option. Depending on what type of stay you are looking for, you could be looking at a place that ranges in price from $40-$150. My friend and I settled on a private room in someone’s house. It only costs $50 a night, but then again, we are in a stranger’s house. To some, this is understandably unsettling, so look for a more spacious, secluded Airbnb or settle for a hotel. On the plus side, if you end up booking a hotel, chances are you’ll have access to a pool and complimentary breakfast.
It’s time to discuss the most important part of your trip: the actual baseball games you are going all that way to watch. There are 15 teams in Arizona, and they play at 10 different ballparks. California teams like the Padres, Dodgers, Giants and Angels will all be in Arizona, and non-California teams with stacked, young talent, like the Mariners and Guardians, will also be there. Tickets are relatively cheap; you just have to look in the right places. An ideal place to start is the reliable MLB.com; the ticket fees are reasonable, and it is the most trustworthy site you can get tickets from. I’d recommend checking out other sites like Vivid Seats and Seat Geek for deals. My friend and I were able to find home plate seats for $18 on Vivid, which is a stellar deal.
If you are going to multiple games, consider finding a new place to sit at each ballpark. Bring a blanket and sit on the outfield lawn, find some shade along the baselines another time and splurge on a ticket behind the plate where you can be up close and personal with the players.
Planning the perfect Spring Break trip to Arizona to catch some baseball games can be simple if you stay organized and plan the fundamental parts of the trip. Once you figure out how you’re getting there, where you’re staying and which teams you are watching, the trip is basically planned. There will be plenty of food in the ballparks and throughout the city, so that shouldn’t be a problem. This Spring Training should pan out to be a fun one, with the hometown Padres looking exciting this year alongside an abundance of talent on the other West Coast teams.
Written By: Nick Hancock