The Maryvale Baseball Park is a quaint facility, decked out in the blue hue of its Major League tenant, the Milwaukee Brewers.
Completed just in time to host Cactus League games in 1998, the ballpark has a unique look, both inside and out, and can hold up to 10,000 fans between its seats and large grass berm.
Although the ballpark has three entrances, only one gets much foot traffic. That’s the main entrance, Gate A, which admits fans into the stadium down the right field line.
The sole ticket booth is located to the left of the main entrance, where the signature Maryvale Baseball Park sign was erected and rises well above the stadium to greet fans. That sign is built with the same wrought-iron, painted white, that gives the ballpark its most distinct interior architectural feature: the trellised roof that covers the concourse.
As unique as it looks, the trellised roof was built for more than just aesthetic purposes. Because of its design, the roof casts shade over the upper half of the entire seating bowl. Shade is a very rare, but welcome, commodity at Cactus League ballparks, and fans in Maryvale enjoy more than anywhere else thanks to the concourse’s roof.
The trellised roof also protects fans from foul balls and, because it permits light to pass through, gives the ballpark a completely open feel unmatched in the Cactus League.
No matter where fans are at within the ballpark, they have a view of the recessed playing field. The concourse encircles it and provides plenty of great standing room options, including directly behind home plate.
For fans that love the sun (and a cheap admission), the ballpark has an enormous grassy berm that encompasses the entire outfield and extends inside of both foul poles. The berm is steeply sloped in the outfield – no Cactus League ballpark features a greater incline – and fans can stand directly behind the outfield wall so long as they don’t lean against it. Fans in the berm within the foul poles will find will themselves directly behind the bullpens (Brewers in right, visitors in left), allowing them up close access to the relief pitchers.
The mean seating bowl provides seats, all painted blue, for 7,000 people. Fans sitting between the dugouts get to enjoy traditional plastic molded seats; those sitting beyond must watch the game from less comfortable bleacher-style benches with seatbacks.
The ballpark is absent of luxury suites, but does include one of the sleekest looking press boxes you’ll ever see. The building that houses the team offices and clubhouses down the right field line mimics the wavy design of the press box, from which appropriately clever music emits over the public address system. For example, Salvation by the Cranberries was played during the game on Easter Sunday in 2008. Linger, by the same group, was played after the game was well over, and fans needed to head for the exits.
Fans won’t want to leave their seats or spots in the berm following the sixth inning. That’s when the Klement's Sausage Race occurs. The five famously costumed sausages enter the playing field from the gate behind the Brewers bullpen in right field and race towards home plate, just as they have been doing at Miller Park since 2000.
Comfortable and clean, Maryvale’s baseball park is a very pleasant place to watch a ballgame. Although less fans usually come through it’s turnstiles than at any other Arizona ballpark in March, that has more to do with the Brewers’ small fan base and lack of national appeal.
Refreshing it its design, Maryvale Baseball Park lacks only the mountain vistas of its Cactus League brethren. But everything is fine within its confines.
Location and Parking
The ballpark actually resides within the city limits of Phoenix, in the Maryville neighborhood on the west side of Arizona's capital city. Located about two miles north of I-10 on busy 51st Avenue, the ballpark is surrounded by commercial development and is impossible to miss.
Maryville is one of the older neighborhoods in Phoenix and was named after the wife of its developer, John F. Long, who donated the land the ballpark was built on. Over the years, the ethnically diverse neighborhood earned a reputation for criminal activity, but the area around the ballpark is safe, especially during the day when the Brewers play almost all of their games.
There are plenty of chain and fast food restaurants within eyeshot of the ballpark. You can even see its light towers from Wal-Mart. Lodging options are far more scare, perhaps due to the area's notorious past, which may be why the Brewers team hotel is located a half hour away in Tempe.
Parking is $6 at the stadium's small paved and large grass lot. The cost is the same at a lot run by the team at the strip mall just north of the stadium, but that option makes it easier to avoid tie ups in the stadium parking lot after games. Either way, parking is plentiful and there are far more spaces available than needed.
Maryvale Ballpark History
Initially planned to be a two team complex, the Maryvale Baseball Park had to settle for one tenant after the White Sox ended up choosing to share a stadium in Tucson with the Diamondbacks. That meant the Brewers, lured away from nearby Chandler, would have the facility all to themselves.
Built on 56 acres of land donated by prominent local developer John F. Long, the ballpark cost $25 million to build and was completed in less than a year. It was designed by Ellerbe Becket, the same architectural firm responsible for the Diamondbacks' Chase Field, which also opened in Phoenix in 1998.
Owned and operated by the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, the Maryvale spring training complex features the main ballpark, five full practice fields and two half-sized practice fields. The Brewers began training here in 1998, which coincided with their move from the American to the National League.
Of all the teams in the Cactus League the Brewers are considered the least stable, as they are the only team training in Arizona without a long-term lease. The 15-year deal the Brewers signed to train in Maryvale expires after the 2012 spring season.
Brewers Spring Training History
The Brewers have trained in Arizona since their inception in 1969, when they were brought into the league as the Seattle Pilots and set up camp in Tempe. The Pilots moved to Milwaukee after one year and the Brewers relocated their spring training base in 1973 to Sun City, where they spent the longest tenure (13 years) in franchise history.
Prior to their move into the Phoenix neighborhood of Maryvale, the Brewers trained for a dozen years (1986-1997) in Chandler, where they played their games at Compadre Stadium, a pedestrian facility that lacked showers or toilets in the visiting clubhouse.