I have loved baseball ever since I can remember. I remember the earthquake during the 1989 World Series, I remember Matt Cain's perfect game, I remember 2010, 2012 and 2014. As a diehard San Francisco Giants fan, I remember it all. And I love it.
My family started traveling to Spring Training in Scottsdale to see the Giants in the early 2000s, and I was hooked. Warm winter days, baseball, a hotdog, cold beer and my family...it was perfect. So perfect, that I moved my own family here nearly 15 years ago, and now play hooky with my two sons, going to as many Spring Training games as our hearts desire! When the time came, I asked my wife to marry me in the lounge at Don & Charlie's. For those unfamiliar, Don & Charlie's was the ultimate baseball—especially for Giants and Cubs fans—place to be. Any day after the games were over, you'd see Dusty Baker holding court at the bar, Bud Selig and Henry Aaron dining on ribs together,..Will Clark, Bob Brenly, everyone was there.
Spring Training has been has been in my blood for years, and it is an annual tradition for so many since 1947. With that quick nod to the past, we now all look to the future. What will Spring Training in Arizona look like in 2021? What do you need to know? Wil it be the same game and experience I've come to know and love? Here, I answer all of those questions to help you confidently plan your springtime Arizona getaway, as well as provide you with my very own top four must-dos for any fan!
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: 2021 CACTUS LEAGUE SPRING TRAINING
Cactus League Spring Training is set to move forward this spring, with mitigation strategies in place. The plans vary from city to city as well as from team to team, so it is important to buy 2021 spring training tickets in advance and ensure you are equipped with all of the information you need before you go.
Capacity & Tickets
To ensure spectator, player and staff safety, capacity will be limited at all Arizona Spring Training stadiums this year. For example, at the Chicago Cubs Spring Training stadium in Mesa, AZ, attendance will be limited from the usual 15,000 per game to 4,000 per game. With limited tickets, I recommend purchasing as soon as your favorite team opens up their online box offices. Many teams are also adopting all digital tickets and eliminating cash payments at their stadium's concession stands for a "contactless" approach. Make sure to bring cards with you and have your tickets available to be scanned on a mobile device.
Face Masks & Social Distancing
At a majority of the stadiums, face masks are required except while eating or drinking for attendees 2 years of age and older. Stadiums will be enforcing social distancing rules, with many adopting a "pod" seating strategy. For example, at the American Family Fields of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, groups of up to six people will be seated together, distanced at least six feet apart from other groups. Seats in between will be clearly marked as unavailable and outfield seating areas will be marked off with painted areas.
Again, make sure to research before you go. Ensure your personal comfort level regarding safety is met by reviewing the stadium's health and wellness procedures, and don't forget to look into the parking and tailgating updates as they may have changed compared to years previous. For example, at the Peoria Sports Complex, home of the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres, parking will be free or included in the price of a ticket to cut down on contact. Always plan to arrive early, and don't forget to bring a glove to catch a homerun on the lawn!
For more info on 2021 Spring Training in Scottsdale, click here.
TOP 4 MUST-DOS FOR ANY ARIZONA SPRING TRAINING FAN
The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is absolutely the best place in town to stay. You're less than a 20-minute drive to Old Town Scottsdale, the home of Scottsdale Stadium, where the Giants play. But you're also close to the freeway and centrally located to see the Royals in Peoria, the Dodgers in Glendale, the Angels in Tempe or the Padres in Maryvale. The resort is expansive, comfortable, and has all the amenities you're looking for – unparalleled dining, both on property and nearby, diverse bars with beautiful open-air patios and light bites, and world-class shopping if you forget something at home or want to freshen your look for spring. Fairmont Scottsdale's concierge staff is incredibly knowledgeable and will always point you in the right direction, offer expert advice, or secure restaurant reservations. You're away from the bustle and late nights of Old Town, but you still feel like you're in the middle of the action. And you just might run into a baseball icon or two at breakfast while staying at the resort!
To begin planning your Spring Training stay, take a look at our Special Offers! Enjoy every second night free with our Stay Close offer, or enjoy the suite life for an entire week with our Grand Getaways package!
2. Make a Plan
Your time goes by quickly if you don't stay on top of it. Know what games and stadiums you want to see in advance. The Giants recently completed a renovation at Scottsdale Stadium, as did the A's at Hohokam. The Cubs' new stadium in Mesa, Sloan Park, is a masterpiece; as is the new stadium in Glendale that the Dodgers and White Sox share. As Spring Training has grown in popularity, tickets are becoming scarcer – especially in 2021. Don't wait until you get here to buy your tickets and map out your days!
3. Spring Training Icons
Even though Don & Charlie's has unfortunately closed, there are still landmarks that any baseball fan, or their companion, will enjoy. You have to have a cold one at the Rusty Spur in Old Town, a pizza at Grimaldi's and stop by the Fashion Square Mall for some of the Southwest's best shopping. Make sure to save some room in your budget to pick up some official merchandise at your favorite team's stadium. These items only come out this time of year, and once they're sold out, you won't expect a restock until next year.
4. Watch for Up and Comers
…Especially toward the end of the spring season. Someone you've never heard of is going to fight hard to eke out that final roster spot, and it's magic to see. Guys you've never heard of are running out grounders, diving for balls, working the count—all in games that don't really matter, just for the opportunity to catch on. It's thrilling to watch as the regular season progresses to see where these players end up. Sometimes, they're a flash in the pan, and other times they make meaningful contributions to the team you love.
One final expert tip…There are certainly characters in every ballpark, but Derrick Moore, known by many sports fans takes the cake. When you hear "Lemonade, lemonade, like grandma made" in a bellowing baritone, you've gotten the full experience. Don't buy lemonade from anyone else, the man is a true artist.