Salt River Fields Named Ballpark Of The Decade
Salt River Fields was named the best spring training ballpark of the decade by Ball Park Digest, a media company that covers the business and culture side of Major League Baseball, minor league baseball and college ball
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is home to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies during spring training. The 11,000-seat ballpark opened in 2011 and is the first built in Indian Country. The park includes 12 practice fields, popular vendors and multiple field entrances that give visitors that up-close game experience as they walk right past practice fields and practice pitching mounds.
General Manager Dave Dunne said the award is a great honor and helps fulfill an early object of making Salt River Fields one of the top ballparks in the United States.
“On behalf of the two teams, they are extremely grateful to the Salt River Community for making the commitment that they did; we all knew it was a big commitment,” said Dunne. “I think everybody is pretty proud how it turned out and how these first 10 years have gone.”
Salt River Fields is also home to the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League and other baseball leagues. However, baseball is only part of what Salt River Fields has to offer.
Salt River Fields hosts events year-round, like the annual hot-air balloon festival in October; the Mac and Cheese Fest; and AZ Barrels, Bottle and Brews, among many other events, including Yoga in the Outfield.
Dunne said baseball attracts 300,000-plus fans each year and non-baseball events attract 250,000-plus people.
“We try to get everybody coming back to Salt River Fields and the Talking Stick District,” he said.
And they do keep coming back, especially now with the recent opening of the Great Wolf Lodge Resort, White Castle and Medieval Times. SRPMIC is also constructing a Pearl Harbor memorial just outside Salt River Fields.
What factors go into being named the top ballpark over the last 10 years?
“We begin with a new design that encapsulates the state of the art in providing the very best game experience,” according to Ball Park Digest’s website. “We then consider a factor fans rarely see: How well the ballpark functions behind the scenes, including player spaces, concessions facilities and team offices. We also consider the impact a ballpark makes on a community, including an economic impact and social impact.”
Salt River Fields beat out runner-up and neighbor Sloan Park in Mesa, home of the Chicago Cubs during spring training season.
“In a year that saw several noteworthy new ballparks, one stood out as a way that fundamentally rethought how a spring-training facility should work …. The berm is the largest in spring training, providing space for 4,000 fans to do what they really love at spring training: grab a cold one and sprawl out in the sun. Add to that strong presence from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community—the project hosts—and you have a unique spring-training environment,” according to the award announcement.
The view, Dunne said, is also the reason fans come back.
“When people come in, they are really moved by how beautiful it is. Walk in home plate and you see Red Mountain and the Four Peaks. Views are unmatched by [any other ballpark] in the Valley or Florida.”
To read the full list of top ballparks, visit www.ballparkdigest.com. For details about Salt River Fields, visit www.saltriverfields.com.