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 A's Spring Training

Hohokam Stadium


1235 N Center Street
Mesa, AZ  85201
Opened:
  1997
Capacity:
 10,000
Elevation:
  1,254'
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Panorama view of Hohokam Stadium in Mesa
What's new again still feels kinda old, as the transformation that changed the Cubs' Hohokam Park into the Athletics' Hohokam Stadium didn't alter all that much of what has always been a pretty simple structure that was substantial in size but unimaginative in design.

Opened in the post-Camden Yards era when blueprints finally got creative, or at least relied on retro quaintness, this is one place that managed to buck that trend and when it was given new life in 2015 it still clung to its big box-like basicness. But at least much of the edifice that used to be so bland is now bathed in green and gold while capacity was downsized by a few thousand thanks to the removal of the big banks of bleachers that were down each outfield line.

However, the more colorful confines still feel oversized, which most people first experience upon entrance into the stadium’s cavernous concourse, which spans the backside of the large split-level grandstand that now holds all of the park’s fixed seats.

A main concourse that has no view of the field is a big a no-no nowadays and was becoming rarer in 1997, when Hohokam made its debut as the Cubs’ winter home. Refurbished 18 years later to the tune of what it cost to build (roughly $18 million in both cases), the difference between the original and renewed version is minimal.

Cases in point on the changes: Gathering space shaded by metal canopies replaced the aforementioned bleachers along each outfield line. Seating rows were renumbered; they used to be lettered, so now, for example, rows span 1 to 12 rather than A to L in sections that have a dozen rows. The entrance to the team shop on the third base concourse was made more appealing, as were the entrance gates themselves. So small stuff like that, with one big exception: the scoreboard in left field is now one big board of fully high-definition capable video. It’s certainly a fun thing to stare at when you need a distraction and given the scoreboard’s bigness – it’s the largest in the Cactus League – Mesa’s stadium can rightfully be called the home of the whopper.

Otherwise, the place remains known for having a decent amount of lawn seating in the outfield and nice views of the distant mountain ranges from its 200-level sections, which are those that are above a wide aisle that splits the grandstand into lower and upper halves. If you want to enjoy the ballgame and scenery while avoiding the sun, buying a ticket for a stadium-style seat in one of the 13 sections (200-212) that go by the Terrace Box designation is your play thanks in part to the trellises that jut out from the roofline to cast shade.

Such are the highlights – and they are certainly nice ones – of the stadium that lured the A’s out of Phoenix after 33 straight spring training seasons at the big city’s Municipal Stadium. Of course, the money that was poured into things fans can’t see or use, like clubhouses and workout facilities, were a big reason why the A’s moved about 10 miles east into a stadium where calling it state-of-the-art seems like a big-time stretch.

In other words, Hohokam feels like the spring training version of the Coliseum in Oakland. Couple that with the green and gold colors visible everywhere and Hohokam Stadium certainly looks like an appropriate home for the A’s.

Quite serviceable instead of quite sensational, don't come expecting much out of the ordinary when it comes to Hohokam Stadium, although it's only fitting that a team that brands itself as "Green Collar Baseball" plays in what’s the blue-collar stadium of spring training.

Hohokam Stadium facade and parking lot

Location


Hohokam Stadium is located in a residential area, with small houses and apartment complexes found nearby. Commercial ventures like bars and restaurants are completely absent from the game day scene. In a literal sense, the area around the stadium is dead, as the City of Mesa Cemetery is directly across the street. So if you don't live or are buried there, there's no reason to be near the ballpark unless the A's are playing.

Parking


The homeowners that live close-by offer neighborhood parking. Paying up to $5 to park on their properties (across the street from Hohokam) allows fans easier access in before and out after the game. Otherwise the A's charge $5 to park in one of the 3,000 spaces on stadium property, with the public being guided into the large grass fields that are on two sides of the stadium while season ticket holders get to park in the paved lot that fronts Hohokam and is parallel to Center Street.

Gypsy or official, the choice of parking is yours. Both options are safe but since traffic can be tied up for a while when trying to leave the stadium's lots there is a real benefit to contributing to the very local economy.


 
2017 A's Spring Training Schedule at Hohokam Stadium
February Day Time Visiting Team TicketNetwork
26 Sunday 1:05 Angels Tickets
28 Tuesday 1:05 Indians Tickets
March Day Time Visiting Team TicketNetwork
 2 Thursday 1:05 Rangers Tickets
 3 Friday 1:05 Giants Tickets
 4 Saturday 1:05 Indians Tickets
 8 Wednesday 1:05 Italy Tickets
 9 Thursday 1:05 Reds Tickets
11 Saturday 1:05 Rangers Tickets
12 Sunday 1:05 Cubs Tickets
14 Tuesday 1:05 Rockies Tickets
17 Friday 1:05 Diamondbacks Tickets
18 Saturday 1:05 Padres Tickets
20 Monday 7:05 Diamondbacks Tickets
23 Thursday 1:05 Brewers Tickets
24 Friday 1:05 White Sox Tickets
25 Saturday 1:05 Reds Tickets
27 Monday 1:05 Royals Tickets

See the complete...
Spring Training Schedule


Big scoreboard at Hohokam Stadium Murals of A's players and celebrations on Hohokam Stadium facade
The largest scoreboard used at a spring training stadium in Arizona is in left field at Hohokam Stadium, which is draped with murals of great Oakland players and A's celebrations.

Notable Ballpark Features

A large video board is in left field
The scoreboard standing behind the berm in left field measures approximately 55' 3" wide by 27' 6" tall. Manufactured by Daktronics, the screen's entire surface area can show high-definition video and is usually subdivided into different sections of LED-shown content during play, when the line score is visible. The scoreboard's debut coincided with the A's arrival in 2015 and upon installation it became the largest such structure in the Cactus League and the second biggest scoreboard found at any spring training stadium (the Yankees' Steinbrenner Field in Florida upgraded to a 63' 6" x 26' all-video board in 2014).

The current jumbo video board at Hohokam replaced a scoreboard that was in the same spot when the Cubs played games at the stadium, and the old structure included a video screen that was just 12' x 16' in size.

Imagery of A's history abounds on the stadium itself
Large photos of great A's players and moments line the top of the stadium's third base-side facade and are also seen on the walls of the concourse that's behind the grandstand. The various murals show celebratory moments and players like Jose Canseco, Dennis Eckersley, Jason Giambi, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson, Mark McGwire and Dave Stewart. The mostly vertical spanning images are printed on vinyl and are one of two aspects of Hohokam Stadium that brands it as an Oakland A's-used venue, with the other being the widespread usage of the colors green and gold at the facility.

Outfield berm is bulkier and includes bullpens in right field
The lawn seating is split unequally between left and right field. The collective capacity is 2,200 but a larger portion of that number sits on the grass in right field, where the hill spans a good distance beyond the outfield fence and grass seating is available on each side of the wide sidewalk-style concourse. In left field, lawn seating is overwhelmingly found in front of the path. The right field side's berm is bigger on the opposite side of the concourse with its frontside portion interrupted by the bullpens, which are stacked together near the foul pole with fans able to stand alongside two sides of the relief pitcher warm-up areas.

Inverted canopies cover group areas
Down each outfield line just beyond the end of the grandstand are covered areas for groups to gather. Both areas, which are covered by canopies attached to steel frames, replaced five-sections apiece stands of bleachers (sections 219-228) that were part of the seating equation when Hohokam Park was home to the Cubs. The canopies that provide shade for the group spots are in v-shaped roof form and the reverse look of a typical roof's pitch is the one striking departure from the norm architectural feature in the stadium.


Old and current signs at Hohokam Stadium
The quite different exterior signs bear slightly different names. Hohokam Park was used during the time in which the Chicago Cubs were the tenant. The arrival of the Oakland A's led to a new, bold sign being placed out front with the name Hohokam Stadium on it.

Hohokam - The People Behind The Name


The original Hohokam were an Indian tribe that flourished in central Arizona until they disappeared around the year 1450. Hence the literal translation for Hohokam, which is “those who are gone."

In 1951 the HoHoKams were reborn, this time as a civic organization dedicated to bringing spring training baseball to Mesa.

Led by rancher Dwight Patterson, the 34-member committee succeeded in their task by luring the Chicago Cubs away from California, where they had trained since 1917 (with the exception of the WW II years).

When Rendezvous Park, the original Mesa spring training ballpark, was leveled in 1976, the new stadium was named after the influential organization responsible for attracting baseball to Mesa.

Today the HoHoKams are responsible for helping to run the venue that bears their name on game days. Once upon a time, their logo was even imprinted on the tickets. That included in 2008, when the volunteer organization had 179 members and the then-mayor of Mesa, also a HoHoKam, served as an usher for the old right field bleachers section. In 2015, with the bleachers removed and the A's moved in, the official roster for the Mesa HoHoKams included 172 names.

As for the name listed on the facility, Hohokam went from followed by Park in the Cubs' days to Stadium when the A's became its spring training occupants. So, after sporting Hohokam Park on its streetside sign when "Winter Home of the Chicago Cubs" was rightfully included on it, the bright gold exterior sign that now claims the place as the "Home of the Athletics" states its name as Hohokam Stadium.

One thing that hasn't changed is the mission of the stadium's namesake organization, which became an official non-profit association in 1986. Besides being the spring training booster for both the A's and Cubs by handling some of the game day operations at the teams' respective Mesa-based ballparks, the HoHoKams raise funds for youth sports programs and other local charities.

Yet the most visible "jobs" done by the HoHoKams, who always do them while wearing burgundy shirts, are handling parking lot operations and serving as ushers during spring training, tasks for which the volunteer operation receives some compensation, which is then fully funneled back into the local community they serve.

Hohokam Stadium, as seen from its right field berm

Hohokam Stadium Facts, Figures & Footnotes


  • Construction cost: $18 million
  • Architect: HOK Sport
  • Contractor: Conelly Construction
  • Built on a 48.45 acre site that also includes one practice field and one practice infield.
  • The original Hohokam Park stood on the same spot from 1977-1996. It was torn down immediately following spring training in 1996 and replaced with the current ballpark, which was dedicated on February 20, 1997.
  • Renovation details: Gensler was the Architect and W.E. O'Neil Construction served as the general contractor. The work completed cost $25.6 million, a figure that included the changes to Hohokam Stadium and the significant expansion of the training complex at Fitch Park, which is about a half-mile from the stadium. Mesa paid $17.5 million of the project's cost and the A's paid the remainder, which worked out to be $8.1 million. The rehab to both facilities was actually estimated to cost $26.9 million, so the final total was $1.3 million less than projected.
  • Owned by the City of Mesa.
  • Leased to the Oakland A's for 20 years. Following the expiration of the original lease between the city and team, which began in 2015, two five-year extension options are available.
  • Hosted the Chicago Cubs' spring training home games from 1997 through the 2013 Cactus League season. During the Cubs' tenure, the all-time spring training attendance record for a season at a stadium was set (203,105 in 2009), although that record was broken in 2014 (by the Cubs, following their move into their new park in Mesa).
  • Was home of the Mesa Solar Sox, a team in the prestigious Arizona Fall League, from 1997–2013. After 17 seasons, the Solar Sox moved to Mesa's other spring training ballpark, Sloan Park, in 2014.
  • Was home to the Mesa Miners of the independent Golden Baseball League in 2005. The Miners folded after playing just one season, during which they drew a league-low 46,643 fans.
  • Arizona State University played their home games at Hohokam Park in 2002 while their ballpark in Tempe was being renovated.
  • Has 6 suites and a pair of party decks. Those VIP areas are found on each side of the press box.
  • The playing field is named after Dwight W. Patterson, a founding member and the first "chief" of the HoHoKams.
  • The original official capacity was 12,500 and it had risen to 13,074 by the end of the Cubs' run as the stadium's tenant, which enabled Hohokam to have the largest listed capacity of any spring training park as no other topped 13,000 prior to 2014, when the Cubs' new ballpark in Mesa opened with a capacity of 15,000.
  • The best attended game in stadium history is 13,465 for a Cubs-Giants Sunday afternoon match-up on March 20, 2011. Given that Hohokam's capacity was reduced to 10,000 in 2015, that's a record that will never be broken.

    Stadium Firsts


  • First game: February 28, 1997; the Cubs beat the Mariners, 6-2, with 8,804 as the announced attendance. The game was played in 2 hours and 25 minutes.
  • First A's home game: March 3, 2015; the A's beat the Giants, 9-4, with 7,820 as the announced attendance. The game was played in 3 hours and 12 minutes.

    Official stadium firsts (all of which occurred on 2/28/97, unless noted):
    Pitch Batter Home Run Winning Pitcher Losing Pitcher Save (3/1)
    Turk Wendell Joey Cora Ryne Sandberg Turk Wendell Bob Wolcott Chuck Ricci

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