Peoria Sports Complex

Peoria, AZ
Year Opened: 1994
Capacity: 11,333
Games Attended: 5
First Game: March 22, 2005
Most Recent Game: March 8, 2018
Next Game: TBD
Setting 9/10 1 Thumb Up
Location/Access 9/10 1 Thumb Up
Architecture & Aesthetics 20.5/28 Thumb Sideways
Exterior Design/Aesthetics 6.5/10 Thumb Sideways
Interior Aesthetics/Visuals 12/15 1 Thumb Up
Concourse Aesthetics 2/3 Thumb Sideways
Functionality & Essentials 20/25 1 Thumb Up
Sightlines 8.5/10 1 Thumb Up
Seat Comfort 3.5/5 Thumb Sideways
Concourse Functionality 5/7 1 Thumb Up
Scoreboards/Tech 3/3 2 Thumbs Up
Amenities & Features 19/20 2 Thumbs Up
Concessions 10/10 2 Thumbs Up
Premium/Group Seating 3.5/4 1 Thumb Up
Social Spaces 3.5/4 1 Thumb Up
Kids Areas 2/2 2 Thumbs Up
Atmosphere, Vibe, & Policies 12.5/17 1 Thumb Down
Ballpark Personality 6.5/10 1 Thumb Down
Fan Support 4/5 1 Thumb Up
Ballpark Policies/Staff 2/2 1 Thumb Up
Bonus 9
Final Score 90
Ranking AZ: #4/10; Overall: #7(t)/23

Pioneering the two-team complex concept, Peoria Sports Complex was ahead of its time, but it has been a particularly overlooked park for most of this century.

Compared to the flashy design flares of Camelback Ranch and Salt River Fields, I think many see Peoria as a fairly generic facility, lacking the distinguishing beauty of the former two, the charm of Scottsdale Stadium, or even the quaint uniqueness of the Brewers’ park.  On its face, Peoria isn’t outstanding compared to successors.

But Peoria Sports Complex deserves recognition as a trend setter in a number of respects.  Built at a higher cost compared to earlier parks, Peoria was the first with fan friendly features like wide 360-degree concourses, higher-quality concessions, club seats, and kids’ areas, all of which compare favorably to other parks today.  In particularly, the sheer spaciousness of the ballpark continues to impress.

Most of all, Peoria Sports Complex was arguably the first spring training park that successfully served as an impetus for the economic development of a town.  Peoria recognized the importance of a ballpark’s role in the community, wisely tying its longevity to its relationship with the city.

With lots of space and great amenities, the underrated venue withstood the test of time well, but $42 million of renovations have solidified the ballpark’s position near the top of the Cactus League.  Today, Peoria Sports Complex checks all of the boxes and then some, possessing what I see as the best range of fan-friendly amenities in the state.

Rising from the ashes of a totally barren desert in the early 90s, Peoria Sports Complex has spurred a lot of development in the area.  The park’s location is in the core of “Peoria Eight Three,” the city’s mixed-use development project.  Tons of entertainment, hotels, retail, and dining options are nearby.  It doesn’t have the feel of a true community ballpark like Scottsdale or even Jupiter, but this level of community engagement is one of the best in spring training.

Peoria Sports Complex may not be anything special design-wise, but the fan experience is phenomenal.
Peoria Sports Complex may not be anything special design-wise, but the fan experience is phenomenal.

In contrast to all other parks in my top-10, Peoria Sports Complex doesn’t have even slightly ambitious architectural intentions or distinctive design flares, but that’s okay.  While rather ordinary today, the boxy exterior has a vaguely southwestern sensibility, intended to echo the earth tonality from which the ballpark grew.

The interior aesthetics are similarly undifferentiated from any minor league park, but some subtle elements make it reasonably attractive.  A low-key flavorful color scheme, decent mountain views, and quality contextual integration make the aesthetic sensibility pleasing, even if it is a bit generic today.  Overall, I have the architecture and aesthetics as average to below-average.

Shared complexes usually fail to represent the teams that reside on the site, and that’s especially true of Peoria Sports Complex.  The amenities alone distinguish this place.  Located near a path that players use to get to the ballpark from the clubhouses, “Autograph Alley” in the right field corner is perhaps the best place in spring training to get autographs.

Aided by the renovations, Peoria Sports Complex has good functionality.  The sightlines are fine and absent of anything particularly bad, and the enhancements helped better orient the seats down the lines.  All fold-down seats possess cupholders, but backless bleachers still exist down the right field line.  The new, state-of-the-art videoboard is one of the larger ones in spring training.

While closed from the field throughout most of the park, the 360-degree concourse is both canyon-wide and easy to navigate compared to more disjointed complexes which added outfield concourses after the fact.  Transitioning from one area to the next is mostly seamless, with the exception of the discontinuity created by the bridge down the right field line.

Peoria Sports Complex earns the highest grade for cumulative amenities in all of spring training, vaulted by the exceptional food selection.

In part provided by food trucks from the local area, the park is well-known for its fabulous variety and quality of concessions.  The only facility to score a perfect “10” in this subcategory, unique fare includes teriyaki noodle bowls, Mexican, southern BBQ, Native American fry bread, Italian sandwiches, fish tacos, gyros, wraps, specialty smoothies, and “street fare” type food like corns dogs, curly fries, cheese curds, and deep-fried Oreos.

The park has plenty of fan-friendly social spaces, sitting areas, and fun bars.  While lacking in seating, the new Four Peaks Pavilion Bar in left field is a great place to hang out.  There is a smaller companion bar (Brew Deck) in right field. This is a wonderful ballpark to buy a berm ticket and just mingle in the outfield.

Also notable is the Courtyard Bar with picnic seating behind home plate and the drink rails with field views at the Baseline Bar down the left field line.  Additional sitting areas accessible to all fans include chairs and tables on the terrace down the left field line and at the Peoria Cove on the main concourse.

Creative kids' play area at Peoria Sports Complex, the Shipyard. Hey, it's spring training, why not?
Creative kids’ play area at Peoria Sports Complex, the Shipyard. Hey, it’s spring training, why not?

Peoria Sports Complex does a great job of providing group areas and premium seating options, but it’s more fan-friendly than what is seen at some higher-end venues.  The well-appointed mezzanine club level is one of the few of its kind in spring training.  Along with padded seats and in-seat service, club seats have access to a private, open-air concourse with couches and dining spaces.  In the past, Peoria offered a unique chef’s table add-on option with gourmet meals included.  Eight indoor luxury suites are located within the press box on the same level.

The climate-controlled Colonnade integrated into the stands down the left field line adjacent to the Baseline Bar is Peoria’s most notable group option.  There is also a covered party patio below the Peaks Bar in left field with plush seating and cornhole games.  Fans can upgrade to an all-inclusive space on the upper terrace down the left field line.

Finally, Peoria is most certainly the most kid-friendly ballpark in spring training.  We have not one, but two kids’ wiffle ball diamonds on the main concourse.  Taking a page from the common playgrounds seen at other spring training facilities, Peoria Sports Complex recently added the elaborate shipyard playground.  Peoria also includes the standard speed pitch games and batting cages.

In sum, the trend-setting Peoria Sports Complex may not be a looker, but it’s exceedingly fan-friendly. Along with a developing community surrounding the site, Peoria sets the bar high with its canyon-wide concourses, stocked concession stands, numerous social spaces, unique seating options, various entertainment features, and a generally fun-filled atmosphere.

Table of Contents