Stairway To Heaven (Angels)

Trip Start Mar 07, 2012
1
9
12
Trip End Mar 20, 2012


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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tempe Diablo Stadium is located in the central cortex of the Greater Phoenix area. It is the Cactus League spring training home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Perched on the side of Tempe's rocky Twin Buttes, Diablo Stadium shares its picturesque prominence with the adjacent Buttes Resort.

Tempe Diablo Stadium was constructed in 1968 and underwent a thorough and extensive renovation in 2005. It accommodates over 10,000 if the folks in the lawn or berm area beyond the left field wall are added to the equation. There is no accessibility in terms of taking a 360 degree tour about the stadium like you can in most of the other ball parks.

Since the stadium is just a few minutes drive southeast of the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, access to the stadium is rather easy. Taking I-10 from the north, exit onto 48th Street, continue south until Alameda Drive, turn left and, voila, the southwestern facing stadium facade looms. Taking I-10 from the south, exit at Southern Avenue, turn north onto 48th Street and look for Alameda Drive. Alternatively, approach the ball park on Hwy 143 from the north or Hwy 60 from the east.

Parking lots border the stadium and the cost per vehicle is $5.00. However, come early or else you will need to look for street parking nearby as an option. Since I arrived 90 minutes prior to the first pitch being thrown and found parking just behind the centre right field scoreboard, a little stroll about Mr Roger's neigbourhood was in order. Obviously not all of the related businesses in the area are thrilled to have excited baseball fans parking in their commercial lots. So, if you want to park on the street, arrive early, park wisely and save the $5.00 parking tariff for some non-diet ball yard food. Likewise, avoid a parking ticket and tow!

An alternative to finding parking is to take one of the several close by Valley Metro park and rides or try the free shuttle from Mill Avenue or Tempe Marketplace. Suit yourself.

Tickets run the gambit from $10.00 to $40.00 and are available at the on-site box office or through the website at angels.mlb.com. Tickets can be quite hard to come by if you do not reserve ahead. I came to the stadium box office the previous weekday and obtained a ticket for $29.00. This was the most expensive ticket of my whole adventure of visiting all 10 Cactus League ball parks. The ticket seller indicated that Friday through Sunday was completely sold out. Perhaps, it was the Angels signing of platinium free agent Albert Pujols from the World Series champion St Louis Cardinals or the forecast 85F weather or the joy of folks living in Tempe or the proximity of Phoenix to Anaheim, California or all or none of the above but Tempe Diablo Stadium was one hot, hot ticket.

Premium seats are located between sections 6 and 15. Higher level seats offer a fabulous view. Row Z is a pip for viewing the field of play. There are 26 rows of seats in each section. All seats have backs.

The Los Angeles Angels were playing the Cincinnati Reds at 1:05 on Thursday afternoon. In the ninth inning, attendance was announced as 9,337. The final out was concluded at 3:25 with the Angels defeating the Reds 3-1.

Some ball parks of the Cactus League have fairly modest entrances or facades. Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Hohokam, Maryvale and Camelback Ranch are four of the more humble places when it comes to accessing the ball park from behind home plate. Do not count Tempe Diablo as one of those places. To get into the ball park there is an elevated and prominent stairway situated between two imposing towers. A fan feels special in mounting the grand entranceway.

Once inside, a fan will notice that the field faces northeast and that the concourses are spacious. Little of the stadium is shaded in the afternoon so this is place where a good hat, plenty of sunscreen, sun glasses and the odd walk around the concourse behind home plate should be considered. Bring along a padded seat since returning to a sun drenched seat can be quite an adventure.

This is truly a fine looking ball park, one that has a comfortable feel to it and one that gives the impression that great things are about to unfold during the next 3 hours.

Standing behind home plate, I felt like the "king of the hill" as traffic whizzed by some four hundred metres to the east on the I-10.

The park has a great layout as everything funnels either left or right from the entrance.

The field dimensions from left to centre to right field are 340', 420' and 340'. There are some bleachers down the third base line half way to the fence but the major bleachers go beyond first base all the way to the right field fence. The left centre field lawn is well situated as it offers a good view of the right centre field scoreboard.

Concessions stands abound all around the perimeter of the field and are a delight. Beer offerings include various product lines from Full Sail, Mission Brewery, Leinenkugel's, Four Peaks, Lumberyard, the Phoenix Ale Brewery as well as the old standbys from Miller, Budweiser and Corona. Premium beer generally sold for $9.00 and large domestic brew was $7.75. In terms of food, get set for the Home Run Grill, Leinie Lodge, National Deli Beef Franks, Angelo's Italian Ice and Gelato, various forms of jumbo hotdogs ($4.50), noodles, Italian sausages and other basic fare. Going home thirsty or hungry is unforgivable. Just bring plenty of money and the dinner table unfolds.

In centre field resides a sturdy green wall which looks about 30' high and about three times as long. The scoreboard blinked enticingly from right centre field.

At least two gift shops were in evidence with the best being behind home plate.

Observations:
-Each fan can bring in one unopened bottle of water (500 ml or 16.9 ounces)
-Come early to the ball park since this is a great place to watch the I-10 traffic and check out the swag being sold; this is a grand place to just hang out on a spring afternoon
-Figure sun, sun and more sun and you will be just fine
-Remember to hydrate on a regular basis
-Close by, on Mill Avenue in Tempe, there is quite a mixed bag of bars and restaurants to sooth the savage hunger beast. There is even a complimentary trolley from the northwest corner of Fifth Street if you partake too much of the grape or the barley
-Several tempting micro or craft breweries are close at hand for any thirsty post-game reflection 
-Four Peaks Brewing Company is on 1340 E Eighth Street in Tempe. It has a great selection of brews running the gambit from several seasonal lagers and ales all the way to a flavourful stout and a delightfully hopped up IPA. The selection of pub food is excellent. The only downside is that this is a place known for good service, splendid beer and fine food; thus, it is often really, really crowded any time after 4:30 pm.
-Another Tempe drinking hole is Gordon Biersch which is located at 420 South Mill. It is a brewpub that serves a selection of German lagers and Czech pilsners, all of fine quality. The food specials are hard to beat with 'Happy Hour' $5.00 sliders and a whole range of other non-diet goodies in the $5.00 to $10.00 price range. Biersch is a brew pub chain so you can track down one in Gilbert (after a Cubs game in Mesa) or at the Westgate Centre in Glendale (after a Dodgers/White Sox game at Camelback Ranch or a Padres/Mariners match in Peoria)

Blog entry 9 out of 12

ehjelter@shaw.ca

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