Spring Training is almost here. It’s my favorite time of year. You’ll be able to watch or listen to the Brew Crew every day via television on FS Wisconsin (3 games), radio, or webcast. Please check the official Brewers Cactus League schedule for airtimes and outlets. The opener is March 4th on Brewers Radio. The first webcast is March 5th and the first telecast is March 8th. If you just can’t stand being away and are planning a trip to Phoenix, I thought I’d offer some insider tips for you.
First, get your bearings. The Phoenix Airport is near downtown. There is a giant loop that surrounds Phoenix known as “the 101.” The Brewers facility is located in Phoenix proper (inside the 101, west of downtown) but is commonly referred to as Maryvale.
Aside from the Brewers, there are 8 other teams in the West Valley (West of downtown):
Reds/Indians, together in Goodyear…outside the 101, south of I-10
Dodgers/White Sox, together in Glendale…just outside the 101, north of I-10
Padres/Mariners, together in Peoria…just inside the 101, north of I-10
Rangers/Royals, together in Surprise…outside the 101, north of I-10
…And 2 teams in Tucson (90 minute drive, south, from Phoenix):
If you’re staying a week or longer, renting a house/condo is the way to go. Call any Phoenix Realtor and you’ll have your pick. Furnished rentals are everywhere.
I like four locations:
1. Biltmore Area: Inside the 101, centrally located near downtown/airport and a perfect location if you want to cover it all.
2. Scottsdale: Great location to cover Brewers plus East Valley ballclubs.
3. Glendale: Great spot to cover Brewers plus West Valley parks. I like the Westgate area in Glendale (near football stadium/hockey arena). There are a ton of hotels from 2-star to 5-star and the easiest access to Maryvale.
4. Peoria: THE hot spot in the West Valley for baseball fans. Hotels and restaurants on every corner. The Peoria Sports Complex hosts a number of night games as well so “doubleheader” days are much easier to accomplish when you’re night game ends close to your hotel/condo.
Quality restaurants are not a problem in Phoenix but here are my slam-dunk, once a week favorites:
1. Don and Charlie’s, Scottsdale, an absolute must. It’s pricey but worth it. Great food in a mini-Cooperstown setting. Call for reservations.
2. Ajo Al’s Mexican Restaurant, affordable, multiple locations, muy bien!
3. Oregeno’s Pizza Bistro: Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale. It’s been a family favorite for years but not a secret anymore. Don’t be in a hurry.
Other stuff besides baseball:
1. Take a trip to Sedona. Ninety minutes, north, from Phoenix, spectacular beauty…the famous Red Rocks.
2. Phoenix Zoo. Downtown location, very cool for kids. You can easily do the Zoo in the morning and the Brewers in Maryvale in the afternoon.
3. Hike a mountain. I’m partial to Camelback. As easy or difficult as you want it to be.
4. Golf: An embarrassment of riches if you want to tee it up in Phoenix.
At Maryvale, down the right field line leading to clubhouse. One thing to remember, the Brewers usually take batting practice at Maryvale before road games. Your best bet is to find a night, road game on the schedule…then post up at Maryvale for batting practice three hours prior. Another smart thing to do is to check “B” games. Sometimes “name” pitchers work in the morning B-games. Position yourself near the front entrance of main office and maybe you’ll get the signature you’re looking for.
My favorite ballpark is Maryvale.
My favorite setting is Old Scottsdale.
My favorite get away is downtown Cave Creek.
If I was 21 again, I would be in Tempe every night.
My favorite family road trip is Sedona.
My favorite hangout is the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale. They’ve been known to take care of Brewers fans…Tell them “Brian Anderson sent me,” and demand a 20% discount on all food and beverage orders.