Driving to the A’s game in Mesa I drove right past the Cubs Spring Training facility Sloan Park. I noticed how new everything looked and how it was conveniently located next to a Sheraton hotel complete with Starbucks. It had the look of the morning opening rush at Disneyland. There was a long line of cars waiting to park. One overzealous fan was running through an empty parking lot leading the charge sporting his Cubs jersey and waving his white W flag overhead.
Sloan Park opened in 2014 and was built and paid for by residents of the City of Mesa. It has many touches to replicate the look of Wrigley. It was built for the Chicago Cubs, who had previously played at nearby Hohokam Stadium that ballpark where I was headed. I drove another 15 minutes arriving at the Oakland A’s ballpark surprised that there was no traffic or lines of people. I arrived a little after 11:30 thinking it might be tough to get close parking or even a game ticket. Neither was the case as I purchased an outfield lawn ticket for $10 and parked in the 3rd row right outside the stadium for $5.
As I was waiting to purchase my game ticket the couple in front of me told me they had just been to Sloan Park. They left because it was just too busy. They just wanted to sit and relax in the Arizona sun watching a little baseball without a hefty price tag. The woman told me she saw parking for $30 at Sloan and it was either $5 or free here.
Hohokam Stadium is located in a residential area of Mesa. You drive past some trailer parks when you exit the freeway and there are no Starbucks insight but the facility itself is nice. You can walk the complete 360 degree lap around the park. Most of the outfield is geared towards families as there is plenty of room for small children to run around or play. It boasts the largest score board in the Cactus League and the Cubs called it home from 1997 to 2003 before moving into Sloan Park. Nearby residents have to be a lot happier with the A’s calling it home vs the Cubs because of decreased game day traffic.
Hohokam Stadium has a seating capacity of 10,500 while Sloan Park (Sloan Valve Company bought the naming rights) is the largest Spring Training ballpark seating 15,000. After attending Spring Training I can say I know why. The only crowded Cactus League games are the ones that involve the Cubs. The other ballparks had lots of ticket availability and weren’t packed even with Shohei Ohtani debuting on the mound or the other ballparks celebrating their Opening Days.
Is everybody now a Cubs fan? Or does the entire metro area of Chicago head south to the desert for Spring Training? I’m not bashing the Cubs team or their fans but they aren’t the only team playing in Arizona. They didn’t win the World Series last year. I appreciate their droves of fans. I guess I just hadn’t really experienced them all in one place before. If you need to make some quick cash create some hip Cub t-shirts or hats and put them online. Guaranteed money-maker from what I saw.
MLB.com boxscore states the attendance was 3,522 for the A’s game with the Cubs attendance noted as 14,821 that same day. I would have guessed 2500 for A’s game. I had my pick of seats to sit in. I sat in the first row along the third base line with my $10 lawn ticket chatting with the visiting San Diego Padre fans. I had plenty of time to walk around and experience the entire park, watch the new play clock in action, and even got golf carted out to my car when I left the game. If you’re headed to Spring Training in Arizona and want to avoid the crowds, my tip is to go where the Cubs aren’t playing.
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