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  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

Surprise Stadium – Texas Rangers Spring Training


Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Surprise Stadium

15930 N. Bullard Ave

Surprise, AZ 85374



Year Opened: 2003

Capacity: 10,714

 

Surprise Rangers


The MLB Texas Rangers are celebrating their 20th spring ball season at the gorgeous Surprise Stadium in Arizona this 2023 season.


The Rangers share the stadium with the Kansas City Royals. The Surprise Saguaros of the Arizona Fall League play their home games at the venue. Owned and managed by the city of Surprise Sports & Tourism Department, the stadium boasts wide open concourses and plaza areas and is shared equally between the two teams.


A well-known architect, Populous, designed the stadium with fan comfort in mind, with spacious concourse plaza areas, plenty of shade and sunshine (depending on your preference), lots of legroom, and an open wrap-around concourse.


It’s a comfortable facility to catch a Rangers spring training game in February or March.


Food & Beverage 4

Surprise Stadium provides a considerable number of refreshment choices for the baseball fan. Some offerings are in permanent stands, and others are in carts, trucks, and kiosks along the concourse and the plazas. Food from the latter group always tastes better. That’s what we recommend checking out. I find the choices down the third base concourse preferable.


Fans can purchase juicy Italian sausage, bratwurst, meat burgers, portobello burgers, chicken tenders, and hot dogs ($9.25 - $11). Top Taco on the third base side sells tacos trays at $15 - $16 (enough for two or more people) or a Desert Cactus margarita at $19. The Links Neighborhood Grill (a local restaurant) sells smoked chicken, Carolina pork, and rib meals for $14 - $17.


Snacks, carnival-like lemonade, funnel cake/elephant ears, fries and curly fries, corn dogs, etc. run $9 - $10 at several kiosks. Best of all is a red Sweeties ice cream truck on the third base concourse plaza, a nice treat for those warm spring days and evenings in Surprise AZ.


Most concession menus have a calorie count listed.


The stadium serves Coca-Cola brands of soda ($5.50 - $10) or bottles ($6.15).


A good variety of craft and domestic beer is on sale, including Boulevard Beer – a brewery based in Kansas City, and Huss Brewing – based in Phoenix. Be sure to check out the Huss Brewing Container Bar area on the first base plaza. Concession areas serve traditional domestic brands like Bud Light, Coors, Michelob Ultra, Hard Seltzer, and the like. A tent on the third base concourse sells beers on tap, including Four Peaks, Barrios, Boulevard, Huss, Samuel Adams, and even cider. Beer prices are around $13 or $14; wine and cocktails cost $9 - $17, depending on choice.


Vendors do not roam the stands selling beverages.


Surprise Stadium allows fans to bring in outside food if it is in a clear Ziploc bag. The stadium permits fans to bring in two sealed bottles of water as well as single-serving juice boxes, baby food, and formula.


Atmosphere 4

The Rangers offer a fine afternoon or evening of spring ball. The Surprise Sundancers – a spring training volunteer services group – extend heartfelt warmth, greetings, and assistance to all visitors to Surprise Stadium. They run the 50/50 raffle each game and host a charity game each spring. All proceeds go to youth-related programs and scholarships.


The Rangers side of the stadium is the first base side, with the team offices guarded by a white picket fence in the right field corner and Royals banners down the third base concourse.


The sun sets behind the grandstand; infield seats get the shade. Seats down the baselines get the sun, so there’s enough variance to suit everyone’s preference. Berm seating is available in the outfield (but not directly in front of the batter’s eye). Populous added seats above the bullpens when designing the stadium, a delightful feature not often seen in spring ball venues. Fans can peer over the bullpens and watch pitchers warm up.


Surprise Stadium Seats Above Bullpens, Photo by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Sprinkled throughout the seating area are specifically designed aisle seats with no armrests. These give big people a little more comfort when watching the game. Be sure to ask for one of these if desired.


Protective netting extends to the end of the seating area, with only the last two sections on each baseline net-free (sections 121-124). Fans like to congregate here pregame in hopes of receiving an autograph or two.

The scoreboard is in left field and has two unique features: one, an analog clock is at the top (nice touch!), and two, colored circles indicate the balls, strikes, and outs, with green for balls and red for strikes and outs. Sponsor advertisements decorate half of the scoreboard.


Unfortunately, the music volume and frequency are more frequent and louder than in some other spring training facilities in Arizona.


Neighborhood 3

Surprise AZ is known for having many active adult communities and residences. Many northerners migrate south for the winter or relocate permanently to the area for its warm weather. Surprise does not have a ‘downtown’ area and is more piecemeal with communities and strip malls. Construction crews are building more and more structures as the city grows in popularity.


Across the street from the stadium are the city-owned and operated tennis and racquet courts, the Surprise Community Park (walking trails, fishing pond, picnic area), an aquatic center, and the library.


For places to stay near the ballpark, a Residence Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and a Hilton Garden Inn are about ½ mile from the stadium.


Places to eat and drink before or after the game require a vehicle. Many chain and fast food places are along Bell Rd. For non-chain suggestions, try Bonfire Craft Kitchen and Tap House, Saigon Kitchen (Vietnamese), or Irish Wolfhound. State 48 Brewery has a brewpub a little over two miles from the stadium. Uptown Alley is a bowling alley, game room, lounge, bars, and full-service restaurant all in one, 3 ½ miles from the ballpark.


If outdoor activities interest you, at least eight golf courses dot the Surprise landscape, or take a hike at the White Tank Mountain Regional Park (17 miles from the ballpark).


Fans 3

A good mix of fans visit Surprise for a Rangers spring training game: the die-hard Rangers fans and those supporting the visiting team, retired folks enjoying the warmer southwest weather, families with kids, and friends and couples enjoying a few hours out.


It’s a laid-back crowd, as most spring games are, as fans are there to talk baseball and check out up-and-coming Rangers players, as well as an inning or two of watching one of their favorite MLB Rangers.


Access 3

Surprise Stadium is the farthest spring training facility in the Cactus League from downtown Phoenix, about a 45+ min drive from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. If coming from the south and west, we highly recommend taking the 303 Loop even though it’s longer in mileage. That route has far fewer traffic lights and congestion than other choices. Public transportation is not available to Surprise Stadium.


Gates open 1 ½ hours before the first pitch. Parking is free, always a welcome feature. Police officers do a good job of directing traffic before and after the game. Three gates are open, all in the outfield. The ticket booth is outside center field behind the batter’s eye, a rare characteristic in Cactus League spring training venues. Expect a lot of walking from the parking areas and then again, after entering the stadium.


After getting through security, fans walk down and around the wide-open plazas and concourse to get to the seating area. Sundancers are readily available with wheelchairs to assist anyone who might have difficulty with the walk to their seats. Clear stadium bags (12” x 6” x 12”) are allowed, though the signs explaining this are not easy to read and do not make fans feel welcome.


Clean restrooms are available behind the batter’s eye and along the inner concourse. Baby changing tables are available in all restrooms.


Return on Investment 4

As with all Cactus League stadiums, spring training tickets have increased. That said, a Texas Rangers game is way more affordable than most other Cactus League ballparks. Based on the game and opponent, the team offers three pricing structures: classic, standard, and premium. In 2023, for outer baseline seats (in the sun), a classic game ticket price is $16, standard is $20, and premium is $25. Lawn seats run $8 - $12.


Tickets may be available on third party sites. Check those first before purchasing from the team site. Free parking and being allowed to bring in food and bottles of water help reduce some of the costs.


Extras 4

A few things are worth mentioning or mentioning again.


The specifically designed aisle seats with no armrest for big people.


The seats above the bullpens.


A Hall of Fame highlighting plaques honoring both Royals and Rangers players and managers, as well as local community role models.


The Sundancers’ friendliness and eagerness to assist and strike up a conversation are worth another mention.


Final Thoughts

Although more distant than other spring training venues, Surprise Stadium is a pleasant venue for faithful Rangers fans, residents of the West Valley, and all baseball fans to enjoy a few hours of spring ball. The design is striking, the seats comfortable, and the concourses wide open.


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