Florida isn't the only place for spring baseball. For half a century, fans have been flocking to Arizona's Cactus League to watch major-leaguers engage in their annual rite.
With desert scenery and mountain vistas as a backdrop, Cactus League fans see their favorite teams in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, Tempe and Mesa. While the weather can sometimes be iffy in Florida, it's gorgeous and warm in Arizona this time of year.
Currently 10 teams hold spring training in Arizona -- two more are scheduled to arrive next year -- and seven play home games in the greater Phoenix area.
Here's a look at the Arizona stadiums:
More teams have played their home games at this stadium in Scottsdale than any other Cactus League venue. It may come as a surprise to Orioles fans, but this park originally was opened by the Birds in 1956; the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Oakland A's also have called Scottsdale home. Remodeled in 1992, it has been home to the San Francisco Giants since 1984.
Designed by the same folks who designed Camden Yards, Scottsdale's ballpark of red brick and green awning was among the forerunners of the ballpark renaissance that began in the early 1990s.
Phoenix Municipal Stadium
It's just a 15-minute drive from Scottsdale, but Phoenix Municipal Stadium is light years away from its cross-town counterpart aesthetically. Opened in 1966, when most new ballparks resembled flying saucers, "Muny" was the spring home of the San Francisco Giants and permanent home to the Giants Pacific Coast League minor-league affiliate. Muny has been the spring home of the Oakland A's since 1984.
Tempe Diablo Stadium
Nestled beside a red rock formation known as the Tempe Buttes, Tempe's Diablo Stadium, home of the Anaheim Angels, affords fans with one of the Cactus League's most scenic vistas. A beautiful sunset before a night game or after a day game is in-cluded with the price of admission.
Tucson Electric Park
Sharing the distinction of being the Cactus League's most recent arrival, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox entered into a partnership at the new Tucson Electric Park in 1998.
A spectacular view of the Santa Catalina Mountain range expands beyond the outfield wall to the deepest reaches of fair territory and what appears to be the end of the world. Because the park is shared by two teams, there's a game being played just about every day on the Cactus League schedule.
Hi Corbett Field
Originally home to the Cleveland Indians, Tuscon's Hi Corbett Field has been the only spring home of the Colorado Rockies since the team joined the ranks of the majors in 1993. Although it has undergone two rounds of renovations since the Rockies moved in, Hi Corbett, former longtime home of the Tucson Toros, still retains a decidedly minor-league ambience. Baseball film buffs know that the original Hi Corbett was used for the spring training scenes in the movie "Major League."
HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Ariz., has been home to the Chicago Cubs since 1979. With a faithful following of diehard Cubs fans, HoHoKam is the most lively Cactus League locale and probably the toughest ticket. Complete with a giant Jumbotron video scoreboard, HoHoKam feels more like a big-league stadium than any of the others in the league.
Peoria Sports Complex
The first facility to be shared by two Major League teams, the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Ariz., has been spring home to the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres since the teams entered into a partnership with the city in 1994.
The main stadium is surrounded by 12 practice fields and a pair of infield diamonds. The complex is considered one of the premier baseball training and development facilities in the world.
Maryvale Baseball Park
This Phoenix ballpark is the most fan-friendly park in the Cactus League. The open-air concourse behind the sunken seating bowl is shaded by louvered sun screens that stretch down the first- and third-base lines. The sight lines are great from anywhere in the stadium. The seats behind home plate and down the baselines are close to the action. The concourse circles the entire stadium, and the grass seating spans the length of the outfield and sits at a comfortable incline.
WHEN YOU GO ...
Anaheim Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium: 480-350-5205; or call Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444
Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox at Tucson Electric Park: 520-434-1111
Chicago Cubs at HoHoKam Park: 480-964-4467; or call tickets.com, 800-905-3315
Colorado Rockies at Hi Corbett Field: 520-327-9467, or 800-388-7625
Milwaukee Brewers at Maryvale Baseball Park: 623-245-5500
Oakland Athletics at Phoenix Municipal Stadium: 602-392-0217; or call tickets.com, 800-905-3315
San Diego Padres / Seattle Mariners at Peoria Stadium: 800-409-1511; Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444
San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium: call tickets.com 800-225-2277
For more information about Arizona and the Cactus League schedule, contact:
Scottsdale Convention and Visitor's Bureau: 800-877-1117
Phoenix Convention and Visitor's Bureau: 602-254-6500
Tempe Convention and Visitor's Bureau: 800-283-6734
Tucson Convention and Visitor's Bureau: 800-638-8350
Mesa Convention and Visitor's Bureau: 800-283-6372
Peoria Chamber of Commerce: 623-979-3601