In 1998, the Diamondbacks opened up their first season with spring training in Tucson, Arizona. They have played in Tucson Electric Park every spring training. In addition to being their home for spring training, Tucson was also home to the Tucson Sidewinders, the former AAA-Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Tucson Electric Park History
Tucson Electric Park opened in 1998 as part of Kino Sports Complex in Tucson. For 11 seasons, it has housed baseball operations from February through September. Both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox spent the months of spring training at the complex. The park also was host to the Tucson Sidewinders up until their sale.
Just under 15 minutes away from the University of Arizona campus, TEP is a great place for college students to go and enjoy a comfortable Tucson afternoon.
Both cheap and exciting, going to a baseball game at TEP is a great way to get away from the busy life for three hours. Lawn seats are great for people of all ages who want to sit out, enjoy a game with some friends or family. Just bring a blanket and cooler of your favorite game-time snacks and you’re set!
About the Area
Tucson, AZ is two hours south of Phoenix, planted between Phoenix and Mexico. Tucson, the second largest city in Arizona, is extremely diverse with many different activities to do year-round.
Getting around is a little tough, and it is best to rent a car. Always give yourself some extra time, because unlike Phoenix there are no major freeways to make trips shorter. Public transportation is at a minimum, but the busing system in downtown and around the University of Arizona is efficient and can make things a little bit easier.
Spring Training Moments
In their short history in the desert, the Diamondbacks have offered quite a few great memories at spring training for me. Springtime showers forced a first for me a few years back—a rain delay, that included a soaking as I sat in my seats along the first base baseline.
Spring training games in Tucson are never shy of entertaining or relaxing. After a long week of classes, it's nice to go sit out on the lawn and relax while watching a fun game.
One of the most memorable moments in the history of baseball occurred in 2001 at TEP. Randy Johnson threw his signature fastball in a game against the San Francisco Giants that struck a bird and instantly killed it. It was said that there were still feathers all over the field after the game.
Spring Training at TEP is always a fun experience. Just remember to wear sunscreen if you’re not sitting in covered seats, and enjoy yourself.
The best time to get autographs at TEP from Diamondbacks players is before the game. I suggest getting there an hour to an hour-and-a-half early and go down along the Diamondbacks dugout. Players are more willing to sign before the game, as many who play leave throughout the game.
Places to eat/Places to go after games
Come game time, there are many different options for eating. Food inside the stadium is the same as every other ballpark—overpriced, but traditional game food. The stadium is lax on its policies on what you can bring in, so bringing a cooler with sandwiches and peanuts is a great cheap option.
After the game, there are many great different restaurants to go to and enjoy a good meal. Along University Avenue, there are many unique restaurants and bars that vary in cuisine. The Frog and Firkin is a great place to go for a hamburger or delicious pizza. There is an Irish Pub just down the road, as well.
Where to Stay
If you’re coming from out of town, I would recommend staying at one of the hotels near the University of Arizona campus. Not only are the hotels within walking distance of University Boulevard and 4th Avenue, but the two spring training baseball parks are within a 15-minute drive of the campus and surrounding hotels.
What To Do In Tucson
When you’re not attending a Diamondbacks game at TEP, there are many other entertaining things to do in Tucson. Along 4th Avenue just south of Speedway, there are plenty of mom and pop shops and restaurants, and you will never fail to see some interesting characters on the street!
Mountain Lemmon is just a short 45-minute drive northeast of Tucson, and is always available for great hikes and a beautiful view of Tucson. The Foothills offers some great shopping and a beautiful drive through the nicer parts of Tucson.
Phoenix is also a two-hour drive north on the I-10. There’s plenty to do in Phoenix as well, with nine different spring training sites within the Metropolitan area.