Can’t wait for baseball season to start? Don’t. Every March, Phoenix hosts 15 Major League Baseball teams, including the Chicago Cubs and the 2018 National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers, for Cactus League spring training. (The 15 other teams play in the Grapefruit League in Florida).
The games, held at 10 ballparks throughout the Phoenix metropolitan area, cater to families with kid-friendly areas, special activities and designated Kids’ Days.
Planning Your Trip
This year, the Cactus League runs Feb. 21–March 26. Visit the Cactus League’s website for a complete schedule of all Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers spring training games.
In addition to the schedule, you’ll find a list of where each team plays, a map showing all of the stadiums and general information about each stadium, including when and where to get autographs. There’s also a link to purchase tickets online through the team’s official website.
You can also buy tickets over the phone or at the team’s spring training and professional stadium box offices. Since popular games often sell out in advance, you’ll want to purchase tickets before you go, especially if you have your heart set on a particular game.
While all the stadiums welcome families, some have special areas for younger fans. Salt River Fields, home to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, has an area where kids can take whiffle ball batting practice and run the bases. At Goodyear Ballpark, young Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians fans enjoy baseball-themed inflatables and a kid-sized whiffle ball field.
Similarly, the Peoria Sports Complex, the home field for the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners, has a ship-themed area with a mini baseball field, splash pad and playground.
A number of stadiums — including Salt River Fields, Camelback Ranch, Goodyear Ballpark and Scottsdale, the home stadium of the San Francisco Giants — allow the kids to run the bases after certain games. Some even have designated times for seniors age 55 and up to walk the bases following the games.
Practice Sessions and Special Events
If autographs are your No. 1 priority, consider going before spring training officially starts. Pitchers and catchers begin arriving in early February, followed by other players in mid-February. Admission is free, and since they are generally not well-attended, you have a better chance of scoring an autograph. Check your favorite team’s website for practice schedules.
Or, schedule your trip to coincide with a Kids’ Days event, like the ones held at Peoria Sports Complex. There, although it’s extremely limited, your kids can sign up to take the field with a player, announce a batter or sing during the 7th inning stretch.