Players begin reporting to spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida this week, and the cities that surround Phoenix are ready to welcome fans with such new features as free trolley services and an inaugural spring training fest. Exhibition games begin the first week of March and take place throughout the month, leading up to opening day April 4.
The Feb. 25-26 Spring Training Festival is a free event at Scottsdale Civic Center Park and the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It will include the Mad Science of Baseball, a symposium of many of the nation’s top sports researchers discussing baseball trends. Fans can also enjoy autograph sessions with former players, interactive exhibits, ballpark chow and live music.
The city of Tempe will be introducing a free baseball trolley to transport fans from the lively Mill Avenue district to Tempe Diablo Stadium, where the Angels play. Beginning March 6 and continuing through April 1 on game days, fans will be picked up and dropped off at the northwest corner of Mill Avenue and Fifth Street, and on the north side of Tempe Marketplace, in between the Thirsty Lion Pub & Grill and Kabuki.
This free trolley service will begin at 11 a.m. at both locations and continue until one half hour past the end of the game. For details, go to www.tempebaseball.com. A schedule of city bus routes in Tempe is available at www.tempe.gov/tim.
The Dodgers also offer free trolley service to their Camelback Ranch facility, from the popular Westgate City Center. Shuttles begin at 11 a.m. and will leave every 30-40 minutes and will continue until all patrons have been picked up. The trolley stop is located on Westgate Boulevard across from Yard House.
Dodgers , click here or call (623) 302-3000
Angels, click here or call (888) 796-4256
Need a bite to eat or a casual place to hang out after games?
For Dodger fans, the go-to place is Haus Murphy's, in Old Town Glendale, about 10 minutes from Camelback Stadium. It’s a German joint with a sprawling dining room, a long, festive patio and a great spring training vibe; 5739 Glendale Ave., Glendale, (623) 939-2480.
Angels fans head to Don and Charlie’s in Scottsdale. This retro rib and steak joint also draws players from time to time. And yes, that’s really a can of Old Style on the bar; 7501 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale; (480) 990-0900.