We decided that, since pitchers and catchers had reported a while ago, it might be an opportune time to catch in some good old Spring training baseball. As our trip was nearing its closure, we headed to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community partnered with the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies to build the complex, which opened in 2011 as the first Major League Baseball Spring Training facility to be built on Indian land in the United States.
The main building is an 11,000-seat capacity ballpark, surrounded by practice fields, batting cages, pitching bullpens and offices for both teams.
The complex is spread throughout 140 acres of scenic landscape with views of Camelback Mountain, the McDowell Mountains, Four Peaks, Red Mountain, and the Superstition Mountains.
We headed to the park for a game between the Cleveland Indians and the Colorado Rockies. It was overcast, but it was a blessing as the temperature was closing on 90o. The scorching desert sun still came out regulary to grace us with a blast of extra heat.
We had Lawn Admission tickets, and we sat on a comfortably soft lawn in the left field, on a couple of blankets.
So first things first – let’s cool the kids down. They had spotted some “Icies”, which were big Slurpee-type drinks, but that seemed too much sugar.
Instead, I got them a Shaved Ice Cone – and I went all in with the three flavors available: Red, Yellow and Blue. 5$.
They had three quarters of it before it was all melted in a purple juice.
Next, we couldn’t avoid the popcorn guy. It wasn’t part of the plan, but who am I to say no?
One bag of butter popcorn! 6$.
It was a fairly big bag of popcorn. It didn’t seem very fresh. It didn’t taste very fresh. Or buttery. Thankfully, it wasn’t too salty either. The kernels were not in great fluffy shape.
The kids liked it. To the point of eating some off the grass. For extra flavor.
Next up, the adults. We were keeping hydrated with 25 oz cans of beer (11$) but Ms. Waffle sent me to get a hot dog.
The concessions at Salt River Fields offers a very diverse food selection. There is BBQ fare, such as beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked chicken; pizzas, burgers, chicken wings, pretzels, nachos and so on. There is also an Island Noodle station. Check out the gallery attached to Ballpark Ratings’ review of Salt River Fields.
But I was hunting for hot dogs – I spotted a Jumbo one at 9$ and a Mega one at 13$. Too much.
I ended up at 101 Cattle co, a “Premium Burger Bar” on the third base line where I ordered a regular ballpark hotdog at 5$.
I topped it with yellow mustard, bbq sauce and ketchup and delivered it to Ms. Waffle. She must have been hungry, because she engulfed before I could sit back down with her to have a taste. The father-in-law came to the rescue, delivering me a classic mustard-relish-ketchup
The frank was big and had a good snap. It was also pretty juicy. The bun was fresh, held together nicely. The condiments offered were from Heinz. For 5$, it is pretty pricy, but at least it was pretty good quality.
Finally, we had to cap off the day with some ice cream.
Cold Stone Creamery is the exclusive vendor at Salt River Fields, but their offer is more limited than in store.
The Waffle Jr. was insistent on having Mint Chocolate Chip. (Technically, Mint Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip.) For Mini-Waffle, I went with Sweet Cream. At 7$ a cup, I declined to pay more for the Waffle Bowls.
That said, it was good quality ice cream, not too sweet, very creamy. And the portions were more than filing – one kid had two bites and collapsed in the stroller, the other one kept going until there was only a few bites left – then hid under the blanket.
And a blanket to hide under is what the Indians were looking for as they walked away after the game.
The 22 first batters facing a Rockies’ pitcher were retired. Colorado walked away with a 6-1 win over Cleveland.
We had a grand time at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
My wallet, not so much.