Almost five decades after it opened, Tempe Diablo Stadium looks better than ever.
Thanks to two major renovations over the preceding two decades, the most recent completed in 2006, the spring training home of the Angels features the modern amenities fans have come to expect, but in a setting that few ballparks can top.
Residing at the base of Tempe's Twin Buttes, Tempe Diablo Stadium is well known for its stunning view of the local rock formation that rises above left field. But the ballpark also has an equally picturesque exterior, from which a freestanding Angels’ big “A” logo sits atop.
The exterior features flower beds and palm trees nestled between wide stairways that lead up to the ballpark’s main entrance behind home plate, where the Angels’ logo stands tall directly above the façade on which the stadium’s name is written.
After ascending the steps, fans enter a covered concourse with full view of the playing field. The concourse is fairly narrow so it remains crowded throughout the game. It also offers the only shade fans will find in the roofless stadium.
All seating is below the concourse. The seating bowl extends from the right foul pole to halfway between third base and the left field foul pole. From there a berm begins and extends all the way to the hitters’ backdrop in left-center.
Within the seating bowl, all seats between the dugouts have chair backs. Those beyond are bleacher-style benches with backs.
An upper level structure built primarily on the first base side of the stadium houses some suites, a group space and the press box. Pennants celebrating the Angels’ trips to the postseason are on the façade above the press box.
Concessions are located throughout the concourse. All of the specialty food stands are in the wide, open-air part of the concourse along the left field line, which features a picnic area and a lookout deck filled with high top bar tables.
A few tall and lean palm trees inhabit the space from the right field foul pole to the hitters’ backdrop, which is the only area off limits to fans. The stadium’s sole scoreboard is a fairly simplistic one standing in right-center. The Angels’ bullpen is behind the right field wall, while the visitors’ bullpen is in foul territory down the left field line.
For sweeping views of the Buttes, fans should sit on the first base side of the stadium. From there they will be treated to one of the best backdrops in baseball.
With its postcard appeal, it’s no surprise that Newsweek magazine rated Tempe Diablo as the nation’s best spring training stadium in 2003. An intimate baseball paradise carved into a bustling suburban desert landscape, the stadium and its surroundings truly are a sight to behold.
Location and Parking
Just like Angel Stadium
in Anaheim, Tempe Diablo Stadium is visible from the Interstate and can be found in an area adjacent to office complexes.
The stadium is bordered by the Twin Buttes, an industrial section, and two major highways (I-10 and Highway 60). The lack of surrounding open space means parking can be difficult to find. The stadium does have 1,350 paved spaces split between behind home plate and right field, but those fill up quickly. So many fans park in one of the nearby office complexes, paying $5 to do so.
Traffic is a nightmare before and after the game. There's no way around the congestion. You'll spend more time stuck in traffic in Tempe than anywhere else in the Cactus League, which is frustrating because I-10 runs directly behind the right field wall. The Interstate may be nearby but it will take a while to get to. And unfortunately there aren't any hangouts (restaurants, bars) near the stadium to wait out the traffic in.
Tempe Diablo Stadium was built in 1968 and has been the inaugural spring training home of three teams: Seattle Pilots (1969), Milwaukee Brewers (1970), and Seattle Mariners (1977). It didn't have a spring tenant from 1973-76 and might have been abandoned for good after 1992, when the Mariners left after failing to come to an agreement with Tempe regarding the cost of major renovations.
In stepped the Angels, who had trained in California ever since their beginnings in 1961. On July 25, 1991, the Angels signed a 25-year lease with the City of Tempe. Major expansions and renovations to the stadium began on April 22, 1992. The rebuilt stadium was completed in time for dedication ceremonies on February 27, 1993 and the Angels played their first home game in Tempe against the A's on March 7, 1993.
The entire complex was expanded in 2006 as part of a $20 million improvement plan that will keep the Angels training in Tempe through 2025. The primary upgrade was the addition of enough practice fields for the Angels to move their minor league spring training operations away from Mesa, where they had been since the team moved their training base to Arizona. Renovations to the main stadium included a new sound system and seats, plus expanded dugouts and refurbished clubhouses.