- Steven Burke
Sloan Park – Chicago Cubs Spring Training
Photos by Steven Burke, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.43
Sloan Park 2330 W Rio Salado Pkwy Mesa, AZ 85201
Chicago Cubs Spring Training website
Year Opened: 2014
Train Cubs Train
The Chicago Cubs moved their training home from Hohokam Park prior to the 2014 season when Sloan Park debuted as one of the crown jewels of the Cactus League. The World Series Champion Cubs have established Wrigley Field west and their fans are showing up in droves.
Food & Beverage 5
Chicago has a few signature foods that locals swear by and each of these are available at Sloan Park. The distinctive Vienna Beef Chicago Dog is available throughout the ballpark and it can be found behind home plate at A Taste of Chicago which also has Chicago-style pizza.
A few other Chicago favorites occupy outposts in Mesa such as Portillo’s and Hot Doug’s. For those unaware, Hot Doug’s was an extremely popular restaurant in Chicago with a cult following however the owner decided to close shop a few years ago. The only place to purchase Hot Doug’s famous sausages now is in the bleachers at Wrigley Field and Sloan Park.
Windy City Dog offers more specialty dogs, for around $10. Generic hot dogs throughout the park can be purchased for $5.
Down the first base line is Rendezvous Park Grill, which specializes in burgers, barbeque sandwiches and garlic fries. Meals with a sandwich and fries cost right around $10. You can get burgers out in left field as well.
Beyond the berm in right field you will find picnic tables and a rotation lineup of food trucks.
Of course, Sloan Park offers Old Style for all those Cubs fans out there. There are plenty of different types of beers available all around the park, plus a fully-stocked bar in right field. Beers generally run about $8 or $9 per serving. On the non-alcoholic side, Sloan Park is a Pepsi venue.
In recent years as the Cubs have become successful, the atmosphere at Wrigley Field has become electric and this environment carries over to Spring Training at Sloan Park. Fans flock to escape the Chicago weather in order to enjoy warm temperatures and watch their beloved Cubbies prepare for a new season.
A great feature is just inside the first base gate where you will find a replica of the famous Wrigley Field marquee where an employee will put your personalized message on the message board. There are rooftops. There is an analog clock at the top of the scoreboard far away from home plate. There are Clark, Waveland and Sheffield street names surrounding the stadium.
Prior to the game the atmosphere surrounding the ballpark is lively too whether you feel like walking around the complex to catch a glimpse of players on the back fields or tailgate you will have a great time.
All of the seats are spacious and comfortable while also being angled towards the action on the field. One thing to note however is that the seats behind the Cubs dugout can cause some issues with the sunshine being in your eyes. Of course, if you prefer to tan and spread out you can always choose to sit on the large grass berm surrounding the outfield.
The large scoreboard is located over the party deck in left field with the Cubs’ retired numbers showcased as well. The outfield area also has a Kids Zone with a mini baseball field.
Sloan Park is located in a developing neighborhood; it is clear that development and gentrification is occurring following the construction of the Cubs complex. Located to the east is Mesa Riverview shopping center with dining and shopping choices. West of the ballpark is another shopping center, Tempe Marketplace with more dining options.
There are several hotel options in the area for those that make their way to Mesa. The most convenient, by far, is the Sheraton Mesa, which is located literally a baseball’s throw away from Sloan Park. It’s going to be tough to get rooms there last-minute, but if you’re coming to the desert to see the Cubs, this is the option for you.
It is no secret that Cubs fans are some of the most loyal in sports and they show it in their attendance at Sloan Park. Especially coming off of their first World Series Championship in 108 years, the Cubs continue to pack the fans into Sloan Park at an average exceeding 15,000 per game. In a short period of time, Sloan Park has become one of the top Spring Training destinations in Arizona or Florida and baseball fans of all teams make it a terrific environment.
Sloan Park provides easy in and easy out with its location at the corner of the Loop 202 Red Mountain and Loop 101 Price interchange. If you’re coming from the south, Rio Salado off the 101 is the best exit to get off. Any other way you’ll want to get off at Dobson on the 202.
The Cubs offer plenty of parking in the paved and grass lots surrounding the entire complex and although it is more expensive than the $5 charged at most Cactus League ballparks it is still reasonable at $10.
One thing that’s missing is an effective public transportation method to get to Sloan Park. The Valley Metro Light Rail, which connects a huge area of Phoenix now, misses Sloan Park by about a mile and a half. The nearest station is at Main and Sycamore. You could hop on a bus here if you’re not willing to walk that mile and a half and want to take the light rail from elsewhere in the Valley, like downtown Phoenix or Tempe.
Return on Investment 4
When you can utter the phrase World Series Champion Chicago Cubs you can expect that ticket prices will be on the higher end and even for Spring Training that assumption would be correct. Tickets directly from the Cubs website begin at $22 for the grass berm and continue up well past the $50 mark for infield box seats. Every game is a sell out so if you want to get your tickets direct you will need to plan well in advance. If you are looking on the secondary market the price you pay will depend greatly on the opponent facing the Cubs that given day.
Add into that concession prices where a small hot dog is $5, sodas and bottles of water are similar to that, and the decent food all sitting at $10 and above, and you’re looking at an expensive day when trying to get a group out to the ballpark. There are definitely more affordable Cactus League options, but of course, these are the Cubs and they are the reigning champions.
Sloan Park gets an extra for adding in the variety of food trucks in right field. The experience and variety is great and changes regularly.
Another extra for the Wrigley Field features found throughout. The marquee replica is cool, plus beginning this season it is free to have a personalized message on it and get a picture with that message. Having a rooftop party deck is also pretty awesome, and a great idea by the designers. All of Sloan Park is an interesting mix of Cubs tradition and modern amenities needed to keep the fans happy and engaged throughout the afternoon.
A final extra for the legends room along the left field concourse where Cubs stars from the past sign autographs for every home game throughout March.
If you want to escape the cold weather for the warm embrace and hope of a new baseball season Sloan Park is a must see ballpark in the Cactus League.