Great Tips For Attending Games
Sheridan’s Helpful Tips on how to be a Seasoned Pro, and Get the Most out of your Cubs Spring Training Experience!
Best Places to see Cubs up close and personal:
Fitch Park practice facility, located at 651 North Center Street (South of HoHoKam park on Center) is a great place to get an intimate look at the team. The Cubs practice here for a couple weeks before the games start at HoHoKam-there are fewer crowds, and the best part is it’s absolutely free! The Cubs usually start practice at Fitch around 9 a.m.
At HoHoKam Stadium, players walk behind right field bleachers from the Clubhouse building to the player parking lot. They can be seen exiting anytime from about the 6th inning until after the game.
Also at HoHoKam, before first pitch, you can sometimes catch players on the training field on the NE corner of the stadium past the berms, past the centerfield concession stands.
Best Spots for Autographs at HoHoKam:
On the home plate side of the Cubs Dugout there is a small access gate to the field, from there you can see into the Cubs dugout and it’s close enough to hand off things to be autographed.
The Top of Cubs dugout is good place to throw an object to be signed (make sure they are looking to catch it) just prior to game time. (Usually kids have more success)
Also the corner front row just past 1st base on the Cubs dugout side is a good spot, players often stop there on the way to the dugout.
Easiest place to catch a ball:
While the Cubs are practicing at Fitch Park, (depending on the wind direction and who is batting) it is a common occurrence for balls to be hit over the fence on 6th Place, the south border street of Fitch Park’s Southern two fields.
Getting Through the Gates at HoHoKam:
Gate D, located on SW Corner of stadium usually opens 1/2 hour before the other gates, at 10:30am, or 2 1/2 hours before game time. Get there early to get in line first, or if you can go in without a purse or a bag, you can get into the much shorter “no bag” line. The buddy system can work, having someone get in through this line if you want to secure a spot for autographs, see the end of Cubs BP, or get to the concession food quicker.
All the other gates open at 11am, or 2 hours before game time, and once you are in, you can get a hand-stamp and easily come back through.
If you have any questions or need help just ask one of the people in maroon shirts, sometimes bolo-tie clad, as these are the friendly HoHoKam (see HoHoKam page) who help run the spring training games.
The gates to the outfield berms are usually opened after Cubs BP between 11:45 and 12:15, unless there is a visiting team who takes late BP.
The upper level bathrooms and concessions are generally much less crowded.
The food changed in 2007 with Ovations being the new concessionaire and it was a long awaited change for the better. I have tried Pizzaiolo’s pepperoni and sausage pizza. In my opinion it was pretty tasty for ballpark pizza with the sausage leaning a little to the spicy side, (which I like) plenty of cheese, flavorful sauce, with a medium size/style crust. I also received glowing reports on the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich (it looks huge and delicious) and the Big Pat Burger (named after Dwight (Pat) Patterson) was reported is be a big winner. Most concession food prices seemed to be in the $5 to $7.50 area. Some sample prices from the Hot Dog Nation concession: Chi-Town Dog $6, Arizona Fajitas Dog $6, Brat with Kraut $6, Cincinnati Chili Sky Dog $6, Red-Hot Chicago Dog $5 and Nachos Grande $5. Beer ranges form $5 to $7.50 with the higher price being for imports.
Good Places to Eat before or after the game:
CHICAGOland Hotdogs & More is a great place to get a true Chicago dog, CHICAGOland uses Vienna Beef and also serves sliders, polish sausage, Italian Beef sandwiches, and a personal favorite, chili cheese fries. They are located on the Southwest corner of Power and Brown Road.
Not far from Hohokam is Diamonds Sports Grill, (formerly Sluggo’s) on Centennial Way, it has long been a Chicago fan favorite, and was previously named Harry and Steve’s, yes that Harry and Steve. I used to run into a few Cubs players there like Mark Grace and Hector Villanueva, both who have been known to bend and elbow or two. Unfortunately I think the days of running into Cubs players there are gone.
Rancho de Tia-Rosa’s (3129 East McKellips Road – Mesa 480.659.8787) Tia-Rosa’s has won numerous awards for their exceptional Mexican cuisine and for good reason. It’s fairly close to Hohokam and gives you that south of the border ambiance along with quality food. Tia-Rosa’s can get crowded, but it’s a large establishment. I really enjoy the court-yard interior patio with seating next to trees and a fountain. The meals are not inexpensive with entrees ranging from $9-15. They are closed on Sunday.
Don & Charlies (7501 E. Camelback Rd. Scottsdale 480.990.0900) is an old favorite of the spring training crowd and I can attest to the outstanding food and sports ambiance. Here’s a couple snippets from their website:
“where athletes and sports journalists mingle with their legions of admirers …the quality is solid and the servings are man-sized.” (100 Best Restaurants in Arizona)
“Best Restaurant for Male Bonding — The sports memorabilia is phenomenal…the food is also Hall-of-Fame quality” (The Rep’s Best 2000, Arizona Republic)
There are many great restaurants in the Phoenix area, but these are a few I enjoy.
Good routes after the game (eastbound) go south on Center St. to 8th street (borders Fitch) go left on 8th street, it’s slower but a peaceful residential alternative that goes all the way past Power Rd. If you’re headed west, take Center St. north, then take a left on McClellan continue west to Alma School Rd, turn right on Alma School for easy access to the 202 freeway.