This is probably the best thing about Arizona. A large majority of professional baseball teams have their Spring training facilities in the Phoenix area.
This is SO much fun - make it a family road trip and head out there for Spring Break. Even just attending one game is a real different experience from attending a regular-season game. Those games keep you pretty far removed from the action. In Spring training, the stadiums are smaller, so you're closer to the game. Also, if you go early, and I mean several hours early (one o'clock game? get there at 9 or 10am), you can talk to the players as they head off to practice, then watch them practice, and chat to them again when they're heading back into the locker rooms.
Especially for younger fans, this can be a life-changing experience. The players are relaxed and have the time to sign autographs - time they often don't have before a regular season game. There's still shops and food and fun but it's all at a more intimate and relaxed setting.
Equipment: Sunscreen! It may be early Spring but it is Arizona - you still need protection from the sun.
Home of the National Basketball Association's Phoenix Suns and the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes, America West Arena was completed in 1993. The arena's seating capacity is 19,023 for basketball and 16,210 for hockey.
In addition to major league sports, America West Arena hosts minor league basketball and football games, and boxing matches. The arena is used for concerts and musical performances as well.
Completed in 1998, Bank One Ballpark is the home of Major League Baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks. The most notable aspect of the 49,033-seat ballpark is its retractable roof, which protects fans and players from Phoenix's desert heat and summertime monsoon storms. The roof is constructed of 9,000,000 pounds (4,082,400 kilograms) of structural steel, and is designed to open and close in about four minutes with two 200-horsepower motors.
Hiking and backpacking are great in the dry sunny Arizona climate but you need to be prepared for the elements which change dramatically depending on where in the state you are hiking. One thing you have to worry about everywhere in the sunny state is protecting your skin from ultraviolet rays. Along the same lines is the need to hydrate. It's very dry and you'll sweat out lots of minerals and water even though it might not feel like it. In desert areas, it may be hot during the day but it gets cold at night and in the Grand Canyon, temperatures between the rim and canyon floor are dramatic. Remember, it's over 5000 difference in the elevation. Carry the appropriate clothes. Good boots are a must whether in the desert or in the mountains. If you are going to backpack, bring a tent, good sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and a camp stove. As important as being prepared with gear is to be physically prepared for the rigors of the sport. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Be especially careful about hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It's a reverse hike. It might be easy getting to bottom but you will have to get back out at some point!
There are over 17 miles of hiking trails in the Chiricahua National Monument. They range from short easy trails that are handicapped accessable, to difficult trails almost 10 miles long. The trails lead through magnificent rhyolite formations, forrests of juniper, oak, pine and fir trees, rolling meadows, and Bonita Creek. An abundance of wildlife can be seen as you hike. Some of the trails intersect; like you cannot get to the Inspiration Point Trail or the Heart of the Rocks Trail without hiking other trails first. Make sure you pick up a map when you pay your fee or at the Visitor's Center. So far I have hiked the following trails (and will add tips about these soon): Echo Canyon Trail; Hailstone Trail; Ed Riggs Trail; Bonita Canyon Trail; Silver Spur Meadow Trail; Massai Point Exhibit Trail; Massai Point Nature Trail; and the Sugarloaf Mountain Trail. For more information on these trails see my Chiricahua National Monument Page.
Equipment: Make sure you bring plenty of water, good hiking shoes, a hat, sunscreen and for the longer trails something to eat.
As stated on my main page, I don't really like Arizona. My one exception - there's always at least one exception - is the Major League ballpark in Phoenix. My goal is to visit every single one so of course I had to go to Phoenix on my quest but, I was pleasantly surprised.
2008 is the 10th Anniversary of the expansion team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Their stadium used to be called the Bank One Ballpark, or the BOB, but has since been renamed the boring title, "Chase Field." Boo! I loved the idea of there being a stadium named Bob. Oh, well.
1) Arrival & Departure
The stadium, whatever you call it, gets a 5 (on a scale of 1-5, 1 being hellish and 5 being heavenly). Normally, I cringe at the thought of a stadium being located in the downtown area of a large city, especially right next door to another large professional sports arena, but The Bob's location is perfectly planned. There is a very large parking structure between the stadium and the arena so there's enough spaces for everyone and once parked, all you need to do is walk across the street. The area around the stadium is lined with restaurants so if you don't want to eat at the game you have ample choices.
Leaving after the game is easy as well. Police have just the right lanes blocked to keep the traffic flowing. I have never been able to leave a stadium in ten minutes like I did at the Bob. It was awesome. I felt as if I must have broken at least 50 traffic laws to have gotten out of there so fast and easily. It was a rush.
I give it a 3. They were good hot dogs but nothing to write home about. Everything was fresh but, isn't it supposed to be? No extra points for that.
I give this a 5 as well because believe you me, when it's 250 degrees outside, or whatever it usually gets up to on a summer's day in Phoenix, that roof is a beautiful thing. Stadiums that have roofs are usually in areas that rain in the summer but Phoenix has an even bigger problem - that heat. They have air conditioning running but it's not cranked up so high that it's uncomfortably cool, it's just enough to keep you from sweating and sliding out of your seat.
Speaking of which, the seats are reasonably comfortable as is the distance between rows.
Besides the little Pepsi Airship flying around inside before the game, there's not a lot of cutesy stuff going on but that's not always a bad thing. Their Diamondbacks are the stars of the show, as they should be - they're a good team - and with the focus on the game it makes for an enjoyable experience. I give it a 3.
I would give it a 4 except for one thing - very cranky ushers. LONG before the game was starting, I went down to the front row of my section, right above the visitors' dugout, and, as the Padres came in from batting practice, I got Dave Roberts' attention and spoke to him briefly before asking for his autograph. He dropped out of sight for a moment to write on a hard surface and then popped back up into view to hand me back my signed program. I was THRILLED even though the entire exchange only took about 2 minutes. However, the entire time I had this usher nagging at me to move because this wasn't my section. But, it was. My seat was just a few rows back. I wasn't blocking anyone's view, I wasn't taking anyone's seat, I was just being a fan and this jerk was evidently seriously offended by that. This is also the stadium that, one time, during a game, an on-the-field usher picked up a ball that was IN PLAY because he thought it was foul. They seriously need to better train their ushers. Then maybe they'll get a 4 or 5 for enjoyment.
Overall, it was a pretty wonderful experience considering I'd spent the evening before in the ER after breaking a couple of my ribs. So I give it an overall score of 4.
The Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League have been consistent winners since they started playing indoor football. One of the fan highlights of the game is the atsmosphere, especially the cheerleaders. Erica made the All AFL Dream Team and is a Phoenix native!
If you plan to visit AZ between January and May, you have a great opportunity to see a large number of MLB teams during their spring training sessions. Due to AZ's great weather during this season, a lot of teams choose to have training here...the Diamondbacks play in Tucson, the Oakland A's play in Tempe...the list goes on! This is a much better opportunity to meet the players, and get autographs
There are so many hikes that you can do in Arizona, but, probably the best known ones are around the Grand Canyon. THe hike to the canyon floor is amazing and was definitley my favourite. It is very tough in summer if you go there and back in a day but is worth it. The other option is to hike around the rim - a much much easier option, but offers some equally spectacular views across the Canyon.
Equipment: Good worn in hikking boots/cross trainers will be fine and a water bottle is essential at any time of year.
I thought where we lived had lots of premier hiking, but Arizona is right up there too, with tons of hiking trails. There's something for all abilities, ranging from the strenuous Grand Canyon trails to flat, desert trails, perfect for strolling.
We never got a chance to hike in the Grand Canyon, due to snow, but enjoyed many desert trails and some hiking in Sedona. I urge you to hike while you are in Arizona; there's so much to see on trails, from ancient ruins to some interesting wildlife, to unforgettable scenery.
With Canyons, mountains, forests, lakes, and deserts Arizona offers many opportunities for outdoors activities such as fishing, mountain biking, hiking, and backpacking. If you golf, pack your clubs, as Arizona offers more than 225 golf courses throughout the state. Cities such as Phoenix, northern Scottsdale, and Tucson are full of challenging courses to try your skills on. Contact Golf Arizona at (800) 942-5444 for a detailed list of courses. This web site, www.1golf.com/az/index.htm, provides a list of courses in Arizona with some pictures and layouts of golf courses around the state. This list also includes a list of tournament dates and discounts.
Whether you prefer basketball, baseball or hockey, you'll be able to catch a game, depending on the time of year. Watch the Suns at America West Arena, the Diamondbacks at Bank One Ballpark or the Cardinals at Sun Devil Stadium.
NASCAR visits Phoenix International Raceway in the Spring and Fall for one of the largest racing carnival in the Southwest
There are many great sports venues in Arizona, but the UA in Tuscon and ASU in Phoenix are great venues to support NCAA atheltics.
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