Baseball Is Back: 2018 Spring Training Opens at Salt River Fields
The recipe for success remains the same at the award-winning Salt River Fields at Talking Stick as it prepares for the 2018 Major League Baseball spring training season.
The popular spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies opens Cactus League play on February 23, with the two teams playing against each other in the opening game.
Spring training baseball attendance averages 330,000 a season, and it’s fair to say that Salt River Fields won’t miss a step this year. A game is scheduled every day at Salt River Fields from February 23 to March 25. The Rockies close out the spring training schedule on March 27.
General Manager David Dunne said fans continue to respond well to the many amenities that Salt River Fields offers.
“The fans love it, and we are not looking to change too much right now because it’s been very successful,” Dunne said. “Everything, honestly, is pretty much the same. We have a just a few new food vendors and a few different items, but our food and beverage is really well received so we didn’t want to change too much.”
February 23 is also Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Day at Salt River Fields. The opener includes the ceremonial first pitches by SRPMIC President Delbert W. Ray Sr. and Vice-President Martin Harvier. Students from Salt River Schools are scheduled to sing the national anthem, among other Community-related activities planned.
“We do all sorts of stuff that day to thank the Community for everything they’ve done for us,” Dunne said.
Tweety’s Frybread is expected to be back. Since Salt River Fields opened in 2011, Community member Cecelia “Tweety” Antone and her delicious bread have been a concession-stand staple. Antone said she took last season off but plans to be back to her familiar center-field berm location come the season opener.
“It’s really exciting,” Antone said of game day. “We get to see the game; we have a perfect view of the field.”
Antone and her staff are often unofficial Community ambassadors of sorts as many visitors ask them about the Community and nearby businesses. “People from all walks of life ask us about the reservation,” she said.
The spring training facility was the first of its kind to be built in Indian Country. It has 7,000 fixed seats and 4,000 lawn seats, not including the 12 practice fields surrounding the facility. Salt River Fields has won many local and national “best of” awards.
MLB is not the only baseball league to work with SRF. A team from Japan worked out at the facility in January and February in preparation for its own season, Dunne said. The facility also hosts concerts and festivals throughout the year.
That area of the Community—the business corridor—continues to develop. The Great Wolf Lodge Resort is scheduled to be completed in 2019 not far from Salt River Fields.
“Part of our mission is to not only get people here (Salt River Fields), but to expose them to everything else the Community offers in the entertainment area,” Dunne said. “The more that the people are exposed to those things, the more their spending money stays with the Community, and that’s really important to us.”
For more information on Salt River Fields at Talking Stick and to purchase spring training tickets, visit www.saltriverfields.com.