13 Tips for Spring Training in Arizona with a Baby or Toddler

Introduction

Let me preface this with I love baseball.  This post is meant to provide you with information for going to spring training, in Arizona,  with a baby or a toddler.  My husband and I are Chicago White Sox fans and we lived down the street from the White Sox stadium for nine years.  So when we had our son we knew that he was going to be a baseball fan too!  We took our son to his first baseball game when he was 3 months old and I was overwhelmed by the prospect of going.  Once we got there he did great and everything went well!

Fast forward a year and a half and we were on our way to Phoenix, Arizona to attend spring training!  Cactus League (Arizona) spring training is great for babies and toddlers for two reasons.  First, unlike regular season stadiums, the Cactus League stadiums are smaller and thus easier to navigate; second, the stadiums typically have lawn seating where little kids can stretch their legs and run around.

I am going to give a rundown of my experience at two different Cactus League stadiums, give you my top 13 tips for attending a Cactus League game, provide links to the FAQ pages for all 10 stadiums and also give you the best resource I found for EVERYTHING Spring Training related. I hope that this article encourages you to attend spring training and also helps you plan your visit!

 

Our Trip to Spring Training in Arizona with a Baby

  1. Dates: We arrived on a Sunday evening and we flew home on midday that Wednesday.
  2. Airlines: We flew Spirit (non-stop) from Chicago to Phoenix. From Phoenix to Chicago we flew Southwest and had 1:21 min layover in Dallas. Both directions our son flew as a lap infant.
  3. Accommodations: We rented a two bedroom townhouse in the Eastwood Townhouses, on HomeAway.com. This area is in the northeast part of Phoenix. We chose this location as it was near the expressway and between the two stadiums that we were going to visit.
  4. Games we Attended:
    • The first game we attended was the Chicago White Sox vs. Oakland Athletics at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona. (This is the White Sox home field). We attended this game on a Monday.
      • Observations: The game was not very packed. The stadium had a good concourse for children to roam around. There are grassy areas for kids to run around, however, the area we settled on was a little steep to get a stroller down (but we did).
    • Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox- Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona (Cubs home field).
      • Observations: Game was very packed. Arrive early or on time to get a good lawn seat. We did not bring a stroller into this game (and I am glad we did not) as it was very congested.  Great lawn and concourse area for kids to roam around.
  5. Tickets Purchased: We purchased tickets to the first game through mlb.com. We purchased the tickets to the second game on stubhub.com.

Top 13 Tips for Attending Spring Training in Arizona with a Baby or Toddler

#1 Rent a car

I grew up in Chicagoland where you could get anywhere and everywhere on public transportation.  That is NOT the case in Phoenix.  I’ve been to Phoenix three times and you need a car to get around the city proper. If you want to get to these stadiums in a timely fashion (and be able to leave when you want) the easiest way is by car.  Some of the towns have a trolley that runs to the ballparks (Scottsdale), so check out each individual town if you’d like to explore the public transportation options.

#2 Note your game start time

At the time of writing the games generally start at 12:05 pm, 1:05 pm, or 7:05 pm, Mountain Standard Time.  Spring Training also falls during Daylight Savings Time but note that Phoenix does not observe Daylight Savings Time so their time does not change.

For the days that we were in town for Spring Training all of the games were afternoon games; however, we probably wouldn’t have gone to an evening games anyway.

The two games that we attended were afternoon games which meant that they fell during naptime.  At the time our son was on one nap and he typically took that nap around 11:30/12pm.  So we simply left the house around 11:45 and drove to the stadium and ‘napped’ him in the car.  Then I just sat in the car with him until he woke up.

The gates typically open ~90 minutes before the start of the game so you could arrive early and attempt to nap your kid in the park if that works better than the car.

#3 Consider a Mid-week game

There are fewer people at a midweek game and it will be less congested.  You’ll also be able to score autographs more easily if you’d like.

#4 Get there early

Next piece of advice would be to arrive early so that you can stake out a lawn seat and/or nap your child (in case you can’t tell, nap is king in these parts).  If you get there early enough you can watch the players warming up on the practice fields (where you can also try to score autographs).

#5 Get lawn seats where possible!

Lawn seats are generally cheaper and then your child can roam free!  A piece of advice on lawn seating is to watch the sun and know your weather for the day.

#6 If the Lawn Is Not For You get Shaded Stadium Seats

If you are not into the lawn (or the sun) then all parks have some seats that are shaded.  Check out each individual stadium website for a list of which sections/seats are in the shade. Alternatively, check out the link/resource at the bottom of the post- he lists out in detail which seats are in the shade at each stadium.  The lawn/shade issue leads me to the next tip.

#7 Know Your Weather!

Phoenix is HOT.  As previously mentioned I am from the Midwest where we have cold, cold winters.  Phoenix is in the middle of the desert and February/March can be A LOT hotter than you’d expect.

Here is a rundown of what to bring to protect your child from the desert sun (this list is primarily for folks sitting in the lawn area):

  • Blanket or towel- If you bring a beach towel bring two so that you can set them side by side and steak out more real-estate. The lawn can fill up and wherever you have your blanket/town will be your little oasis, so spread-out! (This is another reason to arrive early).
  • Sun appropriate clothing for your child– I like SPF clothing (tight weave) but at a minimum long-sleeved clothing and a sun hat.
  • Sunscreen- if you forget this one the gift shops typically sell sunscreen and some stadiums have dispensers around the stadium.
  • Toy or Activity- I’d bring some little novel toy or activity for the baby or toddler, to help keep them occupied. ($1 bin at Target is good for this).
  • Travel Tent- Most stadiums say no umbrellas; however, at Sloan Stadium I saw a mom with small travel tent and it was so unobtrusive. It seriously did not block anyone’s view and no one even seemed to notice. I’d bring this at your own risk and be prepared to return it to the car. If you are going to bring something like this I’d get the smallest one you can find.  But I mention this because it could be great a great place for your baby to catch a nap or get some respite from the sun!

#8 Know Your Stadium’s Stroller Policy

Even if your stadium permits strollers you may want to ditch it anyway. We brought a stroller to the first game at Camelback Ranch and it wasn’t a big deal as there weren’t that many people at the game.  But at Sloan Park, it was MOBBED and I ended up wearing baby into the park and it was a good decision.

#9 Check the stadium FAQ’s (see below with a link to all of the stadium FAQ pages).

Here are the policies to double check:

  • Stroller Policy
  • Diaper Bag Policy
  • Baby/Toddler Ticket Price (to see if they are free)
  • Stadium and Parking Open Times
  • Outside Food Policy
  • Water Bottle Policy
  • Family Restroom/changing table locations
  • Any kid friendly/fun activities
  • Exit/Re-entry policy

#10 Where to buy tickets

You can buy tickets through MLB.com (through each individual team page) or at the stadium itself. Also, check sites like Stubhub.com as prices may be less than face value. (We purchased tickets for $10 for the Cubs/Sox game and face value was $20).

  • Note on Baby/Toddler Tickets: Check to see if your kid is free-most kids 2 and under are free!

#11 Get up and walk around

I know you are at a ball game and want to watch some baseball, but my son just loves to walk around and soak up the atmosphere of new places.  My husband and I would take turns (we call it tagging in and out) walking him around the stadium while the other got to watch baseball and have a beer.

#12 Designated Driver Program

Many ballparks have a ‘Designated Driver’ program in which you can show your driver’s license, sign a form saying that you will not drink, and they will give you a voucher for a free fountain drink.

#13 Eat at Pizzeria Bianco

Not exactly spring training related, but I must give a shout out to Pizzeria Bianco.  We ate here right before the Cubs/Sox game and the pizza was absolutely divine- maybe the best pizza we’ve ever had.  It’s a small establishment and it gets packed, so get there early to get a table.  Another tip is to get a table outside; the Pizzeria is located in Heritage Square, which is like a promenade/mall of sorts, so kids can play a bit before (or after) pizza!  (You will also find the Arizona Science Center in Heritage Square and the Children’s Museum of Pheonix across the street).

Toddler Chasing Pigeons Around Heritage Square, Outside Pizzeria Bianco

Attending Spring Training in Arizona with a Baby or Toddler: Visiting the Individual Stadiums

There are 10 stadiums in the Cactus league (home to 15 teams). I have been to two; however, I will provide you with links to all 10 and also some quick handy facts.

#1 Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, Scottsdale, Arizona: 

  • Stroller: Permitted (not prohibited)
  • Diaper bag: Bags may not exceed 16” x 16” x 8”
  • Baby/Toddler Ticket: Children 2 and under are free
  • Diaper Changing Stations: Located in all Family Restrooms throughout the ballpark (See “Restrooms” for locations)
  • Lawn Tickets Available: Yes
  • Water: Two factory-sealed bottles of water, per person. No larger than one liter in size.
    • Can bring in plastic “baby bottles or any necessary items required for medical purposes or other special needs.”
  • Permitted Food: No food can be brought into the stadium (but see above)
  • Parking: $5 and lots open at 9am
  • Designated Driver Program: Available at the information kiosks on the main concourse near section 210
  • Notable for kids: Cold Stone Kids Fun Field

#2 Sloan Park, Mesa, Arizona: 

  • Stroller: Permitted (not prohibited)
  • Diaper bag: Bags cannot exceed 16” x 16” x 8”
  • Baby/Toddler Ticket: Children 2 and under are free
  • Diaper Changing Stations: Baby changing areas are located in each restroom, including the family restrooms. A changing area is also located at First Aid, directly behind section 111.
  • Lawn Tickets Available: Yes
  • Water: Can bring in one unopened plastic water bottle (per person)
  • Permitted Food: Outside food not prohibited
  • Parking: $10 (reserved) or $5 (general), Lots open 4 hours prior to game time

 

Lawn seating at Sloan Park, in Mesa, Arizona. Great stadium for families to attend or baseball spring training.
Expansive lawn seating at Sloan Park, Mesa, Arizona. The lawn is a great option for families attending spring training.

#3 Camelback Ranch, Phoenix, Arizona: 

  • Stroller: Permitted in grassy areas but not in the seating areas
  • Diaper bags: are permitted with no size restrictions
  • Baby/Toddler Ticket: Children 2 and under are free
  • Diaper Changing Stations: I’m sure they have them but no info readily available on locations
  • Lawn Tickets Available: Yes
  • Water: One unopened bottle of water per person, sized one liter or smaller
  • Permitted Food: Food items are permitted in a small, clear, one-gallon-sized bag
  • Parking: Free, unknown open time; however, gates to the practice fields open at 9am
Lawn seats at Camelback Ranch, Phoenix Arizona. Seating is good for families attending spring training.
Third-base lawn seating at Camelback Ranch, in Phoenix, Arizona.

#4 Goodyear Ballpark, Goodyear, Arizona: 

  • Stroller: Permitted but must be folded up and placed behind railings behind seating section
  • Diaper bag: Bags cannot exceed 16″ x 16″ x 8″
  • Baby/Toddler Ticket: Children under the age of 3 are free
  • Diaper Changing Stations: Diaper changing stations are available in all public and family restrooms in Goodyear Ballpark.
  • Lawn Tickets Available: Yes
  • Water: One unopened bottle of water, per person; unopened juice boxes are permissible for children
  • Permitted Food: unopened snacks and baby formula
  • Parking: $5

#5 Surprise Stadium, Surprise, Arizona: 

  • Stroller: Permitted but must be accompanied by a child
  • Diaper bag: Permitted but must be accompanied by a child
  • Baby/Toddler Ticket: Children 2 and under are free
  • Baby Diaper Changing Stations: I’m sure they have them but no info readily available on location
  • Lawn Tickets Available: Yes
  • Water: One sealed plastic liter of water or an empty plastic water/sports bottle will be permitted. Also permitted are any single-serving juice box, baby food, and/or formula.
  • Permitted Food: Outside food is permitted but must be presented in a clear, sealed (Ziploc or original packaging) plastic bag and be able to fit under a standard stadium seat.
  • Parking: Free, stadium gates open 1.5 hours prior to game time.

#6 Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe, Arizona: 

  • Stroller: Allowed as long as you have an infant
  • Diaper bag: May not exceed 16″ x 16″ x 8″
  • Baby/Toddler Ticket: Children 2 years and under are free (3 yrs. and older must have a ticket)
  • Diaper Changing Stations: Changing stations are located in the men’s restrooms, the women’s restrooms and the family restroom.
  • Lawn Tickets Available: Yes
  • Water: One 1-Liter plastic, factory-sealed bottle of water is allowed per person.
  • Permitted Food: Outside food in small quantities (not bulk) is permitted. Specifically, “fruit must be sliced prior to entry.  Juices in box or pouch form will be permitted. Milk, in factory sealed bottles and baby formula accompanying a child upon entry will be permitted.” (Citation: mlb.com Angel’s website, see above).
  • Parking: $5, Lots open ~2 hours prior to the start of all home games. Stadium gates open ~1.5 hours prior to game time.

#7 Maryville Baseball Park, Phoenix, Arizona: 

  • Stroller: Unknown
  • Diaper bag: May not exceed 16″ x 16″ x 8″
  • Baby/Toddler Ticket: Children 2 and under are free
  • Diaper Changing Stations: I’m sure they have them but no info readily available on location
  • Lawn Tickets Available: Yes
  • Water: Unopened plastic bottles permitted
  • Permitted Food: Outside food is permitted, including soft-sided coolers (not to exceed 16″ x 16″ x 8″)
  • Parking: $5, stadium gates open 90 minutes prior to games

#8 Hohokam Stadium, Mesa, Arizona: 

  • Stroller: Permitted, however, must be small enough to not block walkways or aisles (i.e. folded under the seat), or be checked at Guest Services
  • Diaper bag: May not exceed 16″ x 16″ x 8″
  • Baby/Toddler Ticket: Under 24 months free; two and older must have a ticket
  • Diaper Changing Stations: I’m sure they have them but no info readily available on location
  • Lawn Tickets Available: Yes
  • Water: May bring ‘sealed non-alcoholic beverages,’ soft-sided coolers, and reusable bottles and cups
  • Permitted Food: May bring in a ‘single serving’ for each ticked person
  • Parking: $5
  • Notable for kids: Stomper’s Kid Zone: open to children ages 12 and younger

#9 Peoria Sports Complex, Peoria, Arizona: 

  • Stroller: Permitted but must be collapsed and stored under the railings behind the seating section and must not block the walkway. Strollers in the lawn section must not block another guest’s view or impede the walkway.
  • Diaper bag: May not exceed 16″ x 16″ x 8″
  • Baby/Toddler Ticket: Children 2 and under are free
  • Diaper Changing Stations: All restrooms are equipped with changing stations
  • Lawn Tickets Available: Yes
  • Water: Yes, but must be factory-sealed, plastic water bottles with non-carbonated, colorless water. May also bring in empty plastic water or sports bottle to fill at a drinking fountain.
  • Permitted Food: Sealed, single-serving juice boxes, baby food, and formula for children. May also bring in ‘individual food portions.’
  • Parking: $5, stadium opens ~90 minutes prior to game time and the practice field gates open at ~9am
  • Notable for kids: “Peoria Cove is the kids’ interactive playground located on the third base concourse. It features a miniature baseball field, concessions and shaded seating, a splash pad and a ship-themed playground structure.” (Citation: peoriasportscomplex.com, link above).

#10 Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Arizona: 

  • Stroller: Permitted and can be stored at Guest Services on the Main Concourse behind home plate
  • Diaper bag: May not exceed 16″ x 16″ x 8″
  • Baby/Toddler Ticket: Children 2 years and under are free
  • Baby Diaper Changing Stations: “Changing tables are available in the women’s restrooms and family restrooms are located across from Gate B.”
  • Lawn Tickets Available: Yes
  • Water: Factory sealed plastic bottles of water or other non-alcoholic beverage (in plastic bottles) are ok so long as they do not exceed 32 oz.
  • Permitted Food: Baby bottles are permitted; packaged snacks are permitted
  • Parking: No real parking lot at the stadium; parking is available at various locations around downtown. The later you arrive, the further away you will park.  The City of Scottsdale does run a free trolley service; click here to see the routes. (https://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/trolley). The stadium gates open 2 hours prior to all home games

Best Overall Resource on Spring Training: 

This post is meant to be a round-up of all things baby and toddler related to Spring Training in Arizona. If you need more information on Spring Training in general check this website out: https://www.springtrainingconnection.com/glendale.html.  These guys even give tips on traffic flows surrounding the stadium!

I hope that this post encourages you to visit Arizona’s spring training with your baby or toddler as it truly is a fun and enjoyable experience.  I also hope that this post has provided you with some resources to make your trip planning as stress-free and seamless as possible!

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