Our guide to Spring Training starts with the Home of the Halos.
The Angels host their Spring Training in Tempe Diablo Stadium. The ballpark is much smaller than most of the newer facilities in the Phoenix area. But thanks to a $20 million renovation done back in 2006, the park has a nice look to it.
During the game:
Tempe Diablo is a small ballpark, which is both good and bad. There isn’t a bad seat to be found, but very few are in the shade. So if you want shade you’ll need pony up for the Field MVP seats behind home plate and aim for the last 5 or so rows. If you want autographs, you’ll want to be as close to the field as possible down the first base line. One little tip is to get the seats nearest the tunnel leading to the Angels clubhouse past section 22.
The walkway gets very crowded during games with any decent attendance and the food areas are on opposite sides of the ballpark. So if you get seats past first base, expect a bit of an adventure getting to the patio on the third base side. If you like to be mobile, maybe enjoy a couple of innings standing up having a beer, I’d recommend seats on the third base side which has a larger patio and more vendors.
There is very little lawn seating compared to most parks, just part of left field. But that section is connected to the food, drink, and souvenir vendors on the third base patio. If you have young kids who like to run around or just want to relax and feel free to roam a bit, the lawn seating is a good option.
Before the game:
Spring training is all about the back fields. Back there you will see four full diamonds full of hopefuls running drills and a large pitching arena where you can stand feet away from the mound and hear the ball whistle through the air. To get to the back fields, look for a small path directly across the main entrance to the stadium. There’s also a gate off the main street that is normally open.
The ballpark is located in a business area. There are no restaurants or bars nearby. So, plan on bringing your own snacks and drinks if you want something before the game. I usually hit the Jersey Mike’s then take my sandwich to the back fields. My crew has been known to take a couple of tall cans and not be bothered.
For some, not much beats getting a ballplayer’s signature and Tempe Diablo offers a few ways to get them. The back fields offer great access to minor league players, especially as they walk to various fields and to the clubhouse. Sometimes you can even catch MLB players coming off infield practice or getting loose in the large bullpen area.
Getting signatures from the starting lineup is more difficult. The best bet you have is getting to the game early and camping out around the first base line. As mentioned above, seats next to the tunnel going to the clubhouse are also great as players will stop there before and after games. The walkway is off the field of play so they are safe there.
Above the concourse and in line with first base is a silent auction run b the MLB Alumni Association and it always features plenty of items from the home team and normally quite a few from the visiting team. This is a great way to pick up memorabilia and the proceeds help charitable causes.
Tempe Diablo Stadium opens to the public for free a couple of hours before road games. The Angels take full batting practice at home and the big league players will often sign autographs while waiting their turn in the cage.
Bonus tip: the Alumni Association auctions are at every game and they tend to offer a lot of items for the home team. But they also offer items from notable players around the league. So if you want to try to win a Mike Trout ball, go to a game that doesn’t feature the Angels and you’ll have less competition.
Tempe Diablo is a fun stadium and I love the view of the mountain in left field. Plus a view of a freeway in the background really makes it feel like home. But I pretty much only like the stadium portion because it is home to the Angels. The lack of food options and cramped walkways are really below the standard of the other Cactus League parks.
The back fields are some of my favorite, though, and it home. If you are an Angels fan, I can’t encourage you enough to go visit it.
I know there are some Spring Training vets on this board and there are tips and stories to be added to this post. Please, share those tips, those stories, those pictures.