Maybe planning a trip to Phoenix in August wasn’t the best idea.
It was extremely hot, but we did enjoy our time in Arizona — including a day trip to the Grand Canyon. We were able to stay with Patti’s childhood friend, Katie Harris, and her family in Peoria. Ron got some more NFL coverage in by popping in on Cardinals training camp.
We then went to a game at Chase Field with the Harris family and saw the Diamondbacks beat the Angels.
We had the inside track in Phoenix thanks to Katie’s knowledge of the area, and parked in a garage adjacent to the stadium. If you don’t have a friend to drive you, there are many options to explore on the MLB site.
Traffic in Phoenix isn’t that bad, compared to other large cities like Los Angeles, New York or Chicago. But what Chicago and New York have is a wonderful public transportation system. Phoenix has a light rail that will take you right to Chase Field, but it’s a limited Metro system that does not run to the suburbs.
There is also the D-Backs Express, which runs from the Foothills Mall in Tucson to bring fans north to Phoenix. That costs $25 roundtrip per person, which is actually a good price considering the two-hour drive.
There are several lots around Chase Field and parking costs anywhere between $10 and $30 depending on the proximity to the stadium.
What drew me to baseball in the beginning is the camaraderie. Going with friends and meeting new ones with a common goal to enjoy a good game is always fun, and that was our experience in Phoenix.
I wasn’t crazy about the way the seats at Chase Field were directly behind each other. I had to look around the person in front of me. There needs to be a steeper angle or the seats need to be offset.
It also doesn’t seem like fans get as enthused when the roof is closed, but I was happy to have the air conditioning. It was nice and cool in the stadium despite the 100-degree heat outside.
We went to a Tuesday game and, because the Diamondbacks were in contention for a wild-card spot at the time, there was a pretty good crowd. The lower bowl was nearly full and the fans were into the game.
There was a Japanese couple sitting behind us wearing Diamondbacks attire. They cheered quite loudly when Diamondbacks pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano entered the game in the seventh inning and retired the only two batters he faced.
But when Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani came up to bat as a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth, the man behind us replaced his Diamondbacks cap with an Angels cap. I noticed it and gave him a hard time for switching teams. We laughed and he said he had to support his countrymen on both teams. It was a fun environment and Katie’s daughter, Grace, even met the Diamondbacks mascot, D. Baxter the Bobcat.
Patti and Ron both say:
Ron really wanted to get the 18-inch carne asada dog until he saw the $28 price tag. We passed on that, although it looked and smelled delicious as we saw a few people walk by with the giant dog. We also did not get the famed churro dog — which is basically an ice cream sundae on top of a churro and inside of a donut bun.
What we did get were a couple of unremarkable sandwiches. Ron got the bacon macaroni and cheese burger, which sounds better than it was. Patti got a buffalo chicken sandwich, which was OK but underwhelming.
Maybe we should have sprung for the carne asada and churro dogs. At least they had a station where you can get a plastic 20-ounce D-backs-logoed growler to take with you.
Tickets for a Diamondbacks game aren’t that bad. We paid about $38 each for six tickets in Section 130. You can get tickets to a regular-season game for as little as $10 in the upper levels.
While free parking is tough to find around the ballpark, the lots aren’t terribly expensive. Food prices are also not that bad and there is even a $4 beer option. A regular hot dog can be found for $3. There is the high price for the specialty foods, like the carne asada dog, but you can eat and drink for relatively cheap at Chase Field.
Chase Field doesn’t have a lot in terms of extras, but one neat thing is the 20th Anniversary Experience. From Luis Gonzalez and Randy Johnson to Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke, the Diamondbacks have had some pretty good players over their brief history.
Johnson and Curt Schilling were the 1-2 punch that led Arizona to a World Series championship in 2001.
The 20th Anniversary Experience walks visitors through the last 20 years and does a nice job of paying tribute to that 2001 championship team and Hall of Famers who have donned a Diamondbacks jersey. However there is no mention of other teams those Hall of Famers were with prior to joining the Diamondbacks. Ron took particular offense to that omission with former Diamondbacks coach Robin Yount, who spent his entire Hall of Fame playing career in Milwaukee.
Chase Field also had the Petsmart Patio, which was empty on the Tuesday we attended. But it hosts four-legged friends for every Sunday and Monday home games as the Diamondbacks celebrate what they call the “Dog Days of Summer” all season. The Diamondbacks were the first team to create a season-long, dog-friendly area when they began the promotion in 2016.
We honestly did not see much of the city of Phoenix itself while in Arizona. We spent most of our time in Peoria and Glendale with a couple of visits to Scottsdale and Avondale. We did enjoy a day trip to the Grand Canyon South Rim. The natural phenomenon took our breath away. Pictures don’t even come close to doing it justice. We explored the rim and next time we plan to hike into the canyon and perhaps raft on the river. Other great day trip opportunities include Sedona and Prescott National Forest.
The Phoenix area is very large and sprawling. What the metro area lacks in high rises, it makes up in land mass. It can take an hour to get from one side of Phoenix, say Scottsdale to the east, to a western suburb like Surprise. Phoenix is essentially surrounded by small mountains, which makes for a lovely landscape but it can also be quite windy without any real foliage to block the breeze.
Despite its relatively desolate location, Phoenix does have a lot to offer and we hope to take advantage of that when we next visit — hopefully for spring training in the near future.