Camelback Ranch – Glendale Desert Dogs
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Desert Dogs in a Great Park
Editor’s Note: This review was written by Steve Ohnsman and Meg Minard in tandem.
The Glendale Desert Dogs are a part of the Arizona Fall League, a yearly instructional league that features baseball’s top prospects every October and November. In addition to hosting the Desert Dogs in the fall, Camelback Ranch was built as the Spring Training home for the LA Dodgers and Chicago White Sox in 2009. During the summer, you will also be able to find the rookie league AZL Dodgers at the facility.
Besides the great looking ballpark, the entire facility is a great place to walk around, but better to do it during Spring Training. On the grounds, you’ll find a 5-acre lake and river system, fantastic landscaping, and easy to walk trails to take you around the area.
I enjoy the Arizona Fall League in general because nowhere else do you get the opportunity to see the game’s future stars all in one place, and all of them wearing the uniforms that they will be wearing in the big leagues.
Food & Beverage 3
One concession stand is open right behind home plate for Desert Dogs games. Since Camelback Ranch is primarily home to the Dodgers, Dodger Dogs are available for an insane $6. I’m not really a huge fan of Dodger Dogs, but they are probably the best value as far as food goes since they’re so big.
Other options include pizza slices ($6), nachos, peanuts and other small things for $4-$6. Pepsi products are $4 for a regular and $5 for a large. They also sell Budweiser products ($7.50), wine ($7), and cocktails ($9).
The lines are never very long since attendance for AFL games is usually just around 600 people.
The ballpark at Camelback Ranch is one of the most picturesque parks around. It was designed to look like the surrounding desert, and it really shows. All the seats are tan, the press box and suites have a wooden look to them, it’s really a cool design. The seats all look out towards the rest of the baseball fields, so there are no nearby buildings to obstruct the view. In fact, if you sit up high along the first base side, you can see State Farm Stadium looming in the distance.
Sitting on the first base side is more ideal anyway because a lot more of it is in the shade during day games. AFL games typically start at either 12:35 or 6:35, so staying out of the sun comes in handy. Fall League games are all general admission, so you can roam around the park, and since there are less than 1,000 people at these games, it is easy to go wherever you want. However, the outfield berm area is blocked off to the public.
The three sections right behind home plate and closest to home plate have padded seats and cup holders. Cup holders are missing from all the other seats which is kind of surprising for an otherwise well-designed park.
The Desert Dogs sit in the first base dugout, with their bullpen beyond the right field wall. Don’t expect walk up music for these games though, just music in between innings.
A new 30′ x 50′ Daktronics video scoreboard was installed early in 2018. The scoreboard is in right field, and for both teams, shows the name of the player who is currently batting, which is helpful in a game full of minor league prospects. Most teams have their names on their jerseys too, depending on what the Major League team does for that (so the Yankees prospects don’t have their names for example).
There isn’t a lot right next to Camelback Ranch. It’s located in a very residential area at 111th Ave and Camelback.
Not too far away is the Glendale Sports and Entertainment District, which includes the Phoenix Coyotes’ Gila River Arena, and the Arizona Cardinals’ State Farm Stadium. Both are just a mile or two north on the Loop 101 Fwy, and have a lot of choices for dining and shopping.
The best option is Westgate Entertainment District , which has many restaurants, all of which are very different from each other in price and menu. There are also a lot of different shops, and even a movie theater. The Arizona Fall League never plays on Sundays, so you won’t typically be able to combine a baseball game with a Cardinals game, but going from an afternoon Desert Dogs game, to an early dinner, to a Coyotes game is definitely possible.
Not many people go to these games, so the stands are pleasantly quiet for the most part, unless a player makes a good play. Many major league scouts attend the games checking out the talent on the field. The Salt River Rafters draw more people wherever they go due to their affiliation with the Diamondbacks, and the Mesa Solar Sox do pretty well thanks to being affiliated with the Cubs.
The fans in attendance are what one would consider baseball purists – fans who attend for the game itself and not all the extras that occur in minor and major league parks throughout North America.
The lack of fans definitely makes it easier to get to these games compared to Spring Training, and definitely makes it easy to walk around the stadium.
Camelback Ranch is located a couple miles west of the Loop 101 Agua Fria Fwy on Camelback Rd. When pulling into the facility, there are signs pointing toward where to park for AFL games. Only the gate behind home plate is open, so the signs definitely help point you in the right direction. Parking is free (as it is for all Fall League venues).
Fans enter the stadium on the upper concourse. Fans can walk throughout the park (recommended), but the outfield walkway is closed to the public during Fall League games. The bathrooms closest to home plate are open, but not the ones further down the base lines.
Handicap access is very easy from the main concourse, and there are blocked off areas specifically for fans in wheelchairs.
Return on Investment 3
Arizona Fall League games cost $9 for adults, $7 for seniors (55+), and $5 for kids. To me as a baseball fan, the prices are reasonable given the opportunity to see talented young players facing their peers in great spring training parks.
Camelback Ranch has a few extras in October and November. The overall design of the stadium gets a point. The desert-themed seats and press box facade are very attractive.
Before the game, players from both teams are available to sign autographs for fans down each base line. A nice touch, and great for the kids and parents alike.
Another extra is the Arizona Fall League Hall of Fame banners hanging in the right field bullpen. The Desert Dogs have several Hall of Famers: Torii Hunter, Chris Carpenter, Andrew McCutchen, Max Scherzer, and Ryan Howard. All the AFL teams have HOF banners, it just emphasizes how good the talent is that comes through the league each year.
A fan can sit in the first row without a problem, so bring a camera, and get some close-ups of some of your favorite prospects before they do big things in MLB. The distinct aspect of Camelback Ranch is its unique architecture and the surrounding landscaping.
For additional information on the Arizona Fall League, please review A Fan’s Guide to Arizona Fall League.
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Arrowhead Towne Center
West Bell Road at Loop 101
7700 W. Arrowhead Towne Center
Glendale, AZ 85308
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