Last season the Dodgers finally completed their move to the West Coast. After 51 years of playing in Los Angeles - yet still holding spring training in Vero Beach, Florida - the Dodgers have moved their spring training site to Glendale, Arizona.
Camelback Ranch is the facility the Dodgers now share with the Chicago White Sox, who made the much shorter move from Tucson, Arizona. The new facility has been in operation one full year, and what a year it was.
Ballparkdigest.com, a website about the culture and business of baseball, honored Camelback with the Editor's Choice Award. Camelback has been praised for its excellent layout and state-of-the-art facilities. There is plenty of parking available, both close to the stadium gates by home plate or way out beyond centerfield past the minor league training facilities. The latter may sound appalling, but give it a chance before you judge. Camelback Ranch provides walkways that wind through the immaculate minor league and practice fields, stunning batting cages, and the most unique feature: a beautiful lake that separates the White Sox and the Dodger portions of the complex. After all, the whole point of going to spring training is to have a more intimate baseball experience and check out players before they become superstars. The walkways will eventually lead you to the center field gates. Through those gates you'll find yourself overlooking the whole stadium, with freshly groomed grass at your feet to sit on just beyond the outfield fence. The ballpark is truly one to be admired.
"For Dodger fans who have always wanted to take part in the spring training experience, last season was eye-opening and the positive feedback we've received validated the vision that was carried out in building the best spring training campus in all of baseball," said Dodger President Dennis Mannion, speaking to camelbackranchbaseball.com.
The fans showed their support alright. The 131,134 fans that flocked to Dodgers spring training games in 2009 was a franchise record. Of course, the fact that the Dodgers are about 2,000 miles closer to their hometown fan base doesn't hurt. As a testament to the facility's intrigue, the White Sox saw an excellent turnout as well. Their total attendance of 89,157 was enough for sixth in franchise history, and on March 21st 13,311 fans showed up to see the White Sox take on the Cubs. That broke the Cactus League single game attendance record.
From prestigious awards to fan support, it's clear that Camelback Ranch is the place to be come March.
Written by Erik Wilson