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Proximity at Cactus League stadiums leads to success

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SCOTTSDALE – At this time of the year, it is hard to stroll through Old Town Scottsdale without spotting the Giants’ familiar SF interlocking logo.

Old Town hotspots such as Coach House, Old Town Tavern and Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers sit just steps away from Scottsdale Stadium, the Giants’ spring training home, beckoning the teams’ fans for pre and postgame revelry.

“One of the big things for us is that our location is fantastic,” said Jeff Cesaretti, stadium supervisor for Scottsdale Stadium. “We’re right down the street from dozens of restaurants and bars and the Old Town Scottsdale area. Fans can just walk down the street to hit up those places on their way home.”

The short distance between the park and surrounding neighborhood hotspots hits on a theme that resonates throughout the Cactus League. Proximity is a focus for Cactus League stadiums, both in terms of fans being close to the action and the entertainment that lies close to a park.

Closeness and intimacy are a big part of the draw for Tempe Diablo Stadium, built in 1968. It’s 9,315 seats lie in a bowl that is almost on top of the action.

“We may add more seats or additional parking facilities at some point,” said Tim Mead, vice president of communications for the Los Angeles Angels. “But we feel that the core of our stadium is very unique. It’s one of the oldest parks in the league, so there’s a quaint feel and a great view for the fans.”

While there are several new facilities across the Valley, having an older stadium is not necessary a detriment for Cactus League parks. There is a nostalgia that goes with an old park, as well as a belief that older parks provide a more intimate view of a game. Cesaretti believes that Scottsdale Stadium, built in 1992, benefits from the same aspects as Tempe Diablo.

“We’re one of the older stadiums around,” Cesaretti said. “So we have an old-school look and feel. But this year we’ve also expanded our third base concourse toward the street. It gives fans a little more space.”

For Camelback Ranch, and many of the other Cactus League facilities, proximity is a focus that extends to the practice fields. The spring home of the White Sox and Dodgers encourages fans to come to workouts, where they can get as near as possible to their favorite players.

“I think you’re as up close and personal with athletes here as you are at any other sports facility,” said Matt Slatus, Director of Marketing and Corporate Partnerships for Camelback Ranch.

“There are no fence lines between fans and players at the practice fields. It’s all a rope line on the Dodgers side. So fans can really get close to the players.”

Whether fans want to be close to the players or right next to their favorite restaurants and bars, it seems as though Cactus League ballparks are doing their best to grant fans their wish.

“The great location, the small and close feel,” Cesaretti said. “We want to make the experience better for the fans.”