Goodyear Ballpark – Cincinnati Reds Spring Training
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Goodyear Ballpark is named not for the tire company, but its home of Goodyear, Arizona, which is named for tire company (which bought the land in the early 20th century as area for cotton cultivation to provide the material for tire threads). No longer a corporation’s raw materials plantation, the city has become a thriving western suburb of Phoenix, as well as the Cactus League Spring Training home for the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds were lured to the park in 2010 from their previous Grapefruit League home, joining the Indians, who moved in from Florida when the park opened in 2009. They split the facility down the middle, with the Reds’ offices and dugouts on the third base side, and the Indians on the first base side. The park is also home to the Arizona League affiliates of the Reds and Indians, the independent Goodyear Centennials of the Freedom Pro Baseball League, as well as hosting local concerts and other civic events.
One of the newer parks in the Cactus League, Goodyear Ballpark is a solid Spring Training field with above-average affordability and food options, but it suffers from detached practice fields, a bit of a blah neighborhood, and low attendance.
Food & Beverage 4
Goodyear Ballpark has an excellent selection of food and drinks, as befitting the hearty appetites of their tenants’ Ohio home cities.
The main concessions are the 1901 Charter Grill (Cleveland) and Queen City Grill (Cincinnati), on the first and third base promenades, respectively. They serve the ballpark standards of hot dogs ($4.75), sausage ($5.25), sliders ($7), and chicken tenders ($8), as well as city-specific specialty hot dogs and burgers ($4-$7). Burgertopia on the first base side grills up specialty burgers for $9.50, and Hanger 46 in center has the standards, plus an all-you-can-eat upgrade for $18 that includes unlimited water, soda, hot dogs, burgers, chips, peanuts, and popcorn. The first and third base entrance plazas also house specialty stands, such as Smokies (tons of different types of sausage for $7), BBQ (slow-cooked meals for $9), and Steakadelphia ($9.50 cheesesteaks). And there’s even a Bundt stand in center ($6-$8) for the Midwest treat.
For night games, there is also a food truck area in left field by the cornhole games. Prices and offerings change with the trucks (but grab some poutine ($10) from Frites Street if they’re there).
As with the food, there is a wide selection of adult beverages. Coors, Miller, Bud, Corona, Heineken, Dos Equis, Red Stripe, Pabst, Sam Adams, Leinenkugel, Blue Moon, Flat Tire, and Angry Orchard are all available at various stands (both regular concessions and drink-specific), and Guinness Blonde is on tap at the Pub Patio in center. Premium 20 ouncers go for $8.50, Domestic 20s are $7.50, as are 16 oz cans. Twenty-five ounce “Bomber” cans (a seemingly big hit in the Cactus League heat) are $10. Wine is $8, 12 oz cocktails are $8, Mason Jar cocktails are $12, and margaritas are $8.50 (but only $8 in the left field stand, for some reason). Non-alcoholic beverages are $5 for a water, $5.25 for a regular soda (Coke products), and $8 for a gigantic souvenir soda.
Always defer to the “home” taste, so try a Cincinnati Skyline Coney (mini-hot dog, chili, cheddar, and onion, $3.50 at the main concessions), or for something more substantial, get an order of Ohio Sliders (two cheeseburger sliders with onion and pickle, $7 at the main concessions). Wash it down with your choice of a Bomber ($10) or Mason Jar cocktail ($12) to get you through a hot and sunny afternoon. And maybe a bundt for dessert.
Goodyear Ballpark is a good Spring Training/minor league park, but it doesn’t have the old-time charm of some of the old Cactus League parks, nor is it one of the newest and shiniest parks, a la Sloan Park or Talking Stick.
Goodyear is in a standard minor league park layout. A single seating bowl descends from a main promenade that extends around the entire park. An extensive picnic berm runs from right-center to left field, trailing in front of both bullpens in the left field corner, and the modest video scoreboard rises from left-center to keep fans apprised of the action. The Reds live in the third base dugout (the Indians have the first base digs), so people looking for pre-game autographs should crowd down there to get Hancocks. The small press box and luxury boxes area loom over home plate, and a pavilion sits out in right field for group events.
One area where the park falls down as a Spring Training facility is the lack of on-site practice fields. Both the Indians and Reds have practice campuses just down the road from the park that are open to fans before the game, but it is definitely not within walking distance (especially in the Arizona heat). So autograph hounds or people who enjoy watching the spring workouts will need to park at the training complex and then drive up to the park for the game.
The mascots don’t come south for the Spring, but Goodyear Ballpark’s resident mascot Ziz makes appearances between the innings with the prize crew. Between-inning activities are extremely abbreviated from major (and even minor) league standards. A few contests and races fill the space between the action.
If you’re looking for some shade during day games, the TownePlace Club Seats along the first base line are the only place to get out of the sun (besides the right field pavilion and club boxes), but do not sit there for night games. It gets positively dark in that area, as the awning also blocks the stadium lights. If you’re looking for a cheap day at the park, grab a lawn seat by the center field batter’s eye, grab an all-you-can-eat deal at the nearby Hanger 46 stand, and make an afternoon or evening of it.
Goodyear has risen from its corporate roots to become a western suburb in the greater Phoenix area. While it isn’t all plantation fields anymore, it has the ups and downs of suburban living.
There’s a surprising diversity of restaurant options in Goodyear. But there’s little by the park, except for pizza and sub shop Taste of Italy slightly south on Estrella Parkway. Most options are just off of I-10, including a dizzying area of chain restaurants.
The southwest is known for Mexican food, and Cafe Zamora (Western Ave) is one of the local favorites. Other cuisines are on offer as well, from Tomo Japanese (N Dystra Rd at McDowell) to Bella Luna Ristorante (Litchfield at Indian School Road). Midwest visitors will appreciate Ada’s Fish Fry (14960 W Indian School Road), and give local rave Black Bear Diner a go for more hearty eats (just off I-10 on Dysart Rd).
The best of the local shops may be Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q (on N Lichfield Rd to the northeast of the ballpark and airport). Saddle Mountain Brewing Company (north of the ballpark in Parkway Village) will let you get some local suds with your pub fare.
While not a plantation anymore, Goodyear proper doesn’t have a ton to do. Of what there is, it is mostly golf or outdoors-related. Duffers will find the Estrella Mountain Ranch Golf Club, the Palm Valley Golf Club, the Tuscany Falls Golf Club, and the Eagle’s Nest Golf Club up to snuff. If you prefer a walking stick to a 3 iron, there’s the Corral West Horse Adventures ranch, which is within the greater Estrella Mountain Regional Park, offering outdoor activities near the southern edge of town. Downtown Phoenix is 15 or so minutes to the southeast, and all the other Cactus League stadiums are within 40 minutes of the park.
There are about 10 hotels in Goodyear proper, mostly clustered around I-10. There are the more low-end Super 8, Best Western, and Quality Inn & Suites, and the more upscale Holiday Inn & Suites, Holiday Inn Express, TownPlace Suites, Residence Inn, and Hampton Inn & Suites (the later two slightly north by the Palm Valley Golf Club). The Wigwam Gold and Spa Resort is a 15 minute drive to the north for the luxury resort experience. Pick a price range and go.
These relative newcomers to the Cactus League are at the bottom of the attendance figures, even with the newer facility. The Reds are second-place to the Indians, but it is a close race and not a case of one partner dominating the other as is found in some shared Spring Training facilities.
As is standard through all of Spring Training, day games are more lightly attended than night games, and the low overall attendance numbers are reflected in half-full stadiums at best. The butts in the seats definitely depends on the opponents. If huge Cactus League draws such as the Dodgers or Cubs are playing the home team du jour, the stadium population will increase proportionally.
Those that are in the stadium are average for Spring Training crowds, either locals supporting the snowbirders, or big fans from the homeland who come down to get some early baseball and hopefully some autographs. The game itself is something of an afterthought.
Goodyear, Arizona is under a half hour west of Phoenix, with access along I-10 and state route 303. The ballpark itself is off Estrella Parkway that hooks up to I-10 about a quarter-mile to the north of the park.
Goodyear is served by the greater-Phoenix Valley Metro. The regional 685 line will get you within walking distance of the park ($2 a ride, or $4 for a day pass). Regional Phoenix Goodyear Airport is within sight of the ballpark, and the larger Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is a half hour to the east on I-10.
Five lots surround the main ballpark, with the closest reserved for VIPs and Season Ticket holders near home plate. Parking is a league-average $5, but if you arrive over two hours before the game, you can park for free before they set up the stations to collect the fees (the attendants are quite open about it and will congratulate you for getting there so early). With the Estrella Parkway right there, getting in and out is no real problem.
Several entrances ring the park at home plate, first base, third base, and center field. Home plate (main entrance) and center field (by the main parking lots) are generally the most congested. If you’re looking for a quick entry, the first base entrance is your best bet, especially for more crowded night games.
Getting around the park is nearly frictionless. The areas around the entrances can get a little congested when the gates open, but the wide main concourse that runs around the entire field at the top of the seating bowl shuttles patrons around without problem.
Return on Investment 5
While it might not stand out in many areas, one place that Goodyear Ballpark gets it right is in ROI. Prices are reasonable across the board, with many specials and deals to get those costs down even further.
Tickets are on the low-end of average for the Cactus League, and the same pricing is shared by both teams. General Admission berm seats are $4/$8 (children/adults), outfield seats start at $6/$12, outfield box past the dugouts are $10/$25, and seats from the dugouts to behind home plate are $25. Shaded club seats and premium field box (in the first rows by the field) are $29. As with many teams, the Reds also offer “season tickets,” group pricing, and mini-plan packages for the Cactus League that lowers the per-game ticket price, as well as Spring Training vacation packages that include hotels, car rentals, and tickets. Active military and senior citizens all get free or discounted tickets, and a Family Fun Pack will get 4 seats, 4 small sodas, and 4 bag of chips for $40 (berm) or $48 (outfield reserved).
All regular food and nearly all drink prices are $10 or under, parking is a league-average $5, and programs are a free giveaway. All night games have “Happy Hour” with food and drink discounts from gate opening until game time.
Goodyear Ballpark does have a few extras. In front of the main entrance is a fountain and statue, “Ziz,” named for the Jewish mythological bird and inspiration for the stadium mascot (who himself has a wooden shed house in right-center field). The stadium dedication plaque and a marker for the Wood Ranch (previous resident of the park’s location), also are found outside the park, near the team store flanking the main entrance. A smaller merchandise stand is available in the outfield.
The two teams have pennants and World Series banners in the bullpens out in left, as well as large pictures of team greats along the outfield walkway. One part of the “Cactus League Experience” exhibit is found by the main entrance (and completed at other Cactus League parks and the Mesa Historical Museum). A POW/MIA seat is located at the top of the home plate seats. A kids area is behind left field (along with a row of cornhole games for adults), and a Wiffle ball field is behind right field.
While it may not be the toast of the league, Goodyear Ballpark is especially affordable for families looking for some Cactus League fun.
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