Brewers' Home Away from Home: Maryvale, Arizona

Jeff BreenContributor IFebruary 17, 2009

Located in West Phoenix lies one of baseball's best Spring Training facilities.  Built in 1998, the Maryvale Baseball facility is home to the Milwaukee Brewers from mid-February until the end of March.  The 7,000-seat stadium symbolizes the wonders of baseball in Arizona.

Aside from their gorgeous stadium, the Brewers have the luxury of five additional work out fields, an infield only practice field, batting cages, and a separate area for pitching only.  The Brewers also enjoy some of the best accommodations with a state-of-the-art locker room area equipped with work out and training rooms.

But enough about the players.  For those die-hard fans who are making the trek to Maryvale, here is some information and things to keep in mind.


Park History

As I mentioned, the Brewers opened play in Maryvale in 1998.  Located at 3600 N. 51st Ave, the Brewers have opened up every spring season here since its opening.  Initially planned to be a two-team facility, the Maryvale Baseball Park had to settle for one team after the White Sox ended up choosing to share a stadium in Tucson with the Diamondbacks. That meant the Brewers would have the facility all to themselves.

The park is built on 56 acres of land donated by developer John F. Long.  The ballpark cost $25 million to build and was completed in less than a year.  It was designed by Ellerbe Becket, the same architectural firm responsible for the Diamondbacks' Chase Field, which also opened in '98.

Of all the teams in the Cactus League, the Brewers are considered the least stable, as they are the only team training in Arizona without a long-term lease. The 15-year deal the Brewers signed to train in Maryvale expires after the 2012 spring season.


What To Know About the Area

The ballpark resides within the city limits of Phoenix.  Located about two miles north of I-10 on busy 51st Avenue, the ballpark is surrounded by commercial buildings and is hard to miss.

Maryvale is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Phoenix. Over the years, the diverse neighborhood earned a reputation for criminal activity, but the area around the ballpark is safe, especially during the day when the Brewers play almost all of their games.

There are plenty of chain and fast food restaurants within close distance of the ballpark. Hotels are hard to find, due to the area's notorious past, which may be why the Brewers team hotel is located a half hour away in Tempe.

Parking is $6 dollars at the stadium's small paved and large grass lot. The cost is the same at a lot run by the team at the strip mall just north of the stadium, but that option makes it easier to avoid tie ups in the stadium parking lot after games. Either way, parking is plentiful and there are far more spaces available than needed.


Player Access

The Brewers' facility is one of best when it comes to fan-player interaction.  During the opening weeks of camp when the Brewers run their morning workouts, fans are allowed to walk right up to the fence and watch Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder take BP. 

If you wait along the area from the field to the Brewers clubhouse, you can get plenty of autographs.  Players walk right by and are usually more than happy to give an autograph or pose for a picture.  It's much easier to meet the players after practice, though. 


What To Eat

Maryvale offers the basic food that you would find at the ballpark.  Hot Dogs, brats, popcorn, and all that good stuff can be found here.  Don't expect to find the variety that you would at Miller Park.  After all, it's only Spring Training.

After the game, its best to dine in downtown Phoenix.  With many chains and gourmet restaurants, you will enjoy delicious food in a beautiful downtown setting.

Every baseball fan should take a day to enjoy a meal at TGI Fridays at Chase Field, home to the Diamondbacks.  This one-of-a-kind stadium is the perfect background for any meal.


What To Do When There Is No Baseball

Arizona is a state of majestic beauty, and you should make it a point to see the beautiful landscape.  The Grand Canyon is a must see.  It's a bit of a trip, but once you get there, you'll be happy you went. 

The Phoenix area has great shopping as well.  Sundays in Phoenix there is a fleet market that is second to none.  Hundreds of local vendors bring their crafts, merchandise, and gadgets to the market.  Odds are, you will find something you like for cheap.

If neither of those interests you, than take a tour of the area.  Tucson, Mesa, Peoria, and Glendale are all very close.  The Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL play in Glendale, and the Suns of the NBA play downtown next to Chase Field.


From a Personal Standpoint

I was last in Arizona in 2006.  Maryvale is one of the best facilities in the area.  Don't be fooled, though, there are plenty of great facilities all within a close distance.  With the Dodgers and White Sox moving into new digs in Glendale, baseball in Arizona only continues to grow.