Arizona is beautiful in the Spring, especially for the Cactus League of Spring Training. During the regular season, it is an over-100 degree slice of hell. If Chase Field wasn't air-conditioned, the poor guy in the Baxter costume would pass out on the field every game. Although that might be more exciting than the D-Backs in the post-Randy Johnson era.
At least they have a pool. A real nice pool.
Chase Field is well planned out for one reason: retractable roof. Perhaps no other place begs for an air conditioned ballpark more than Arizona. They've saved you. Now let's look at some ideas to save money at Arizona’s ballpark.
With Its Roof Closed, Chase is Cool and Cooler - via Flickr user Eric Kilby
Arriving at Chase Field
Alternative/Public Transportation to a Diamondbacks Game
There is the option of public transportation to save money getting to the Diamondbacks game. Arizona has a Light Rail system that covers much of the surrounding area. Get off at the 3rd St/Washington stop. The best choice is the all day pass, so you can hop on and off easily, because it's going to be too hot to walk around all day. Here's a link to the Light Rail page - don't use the one listed on the D-Backs' website, since it's not always stable.
And finally another option is the D-backs Express which runs during select games from a mall in Tucson, leaving 3 hours before the start time. It can be a bit pricey, but if you are coming from Tuscon, it's very easy.
But it's hot. Your car is gonna be a furnace when you get back into it. Public transport is going to be sardines in a sauna on busy days. Why not save the sanity and let Uber do the driving for you? If you haven't used Uber before, get your first ride free.
Driving to a Diamondbacks Game
You can park for free near Chase Field, but as usually is the case, you will probably need to arrive early. The metered parking around the ballpark is only in effect up until 5pm, after that point you can park there for free. As you might imagine you will want to get there around 5pm if possible to find one of these, or load the meter before you head to the park.
If you are there that early, you can afford to swing around the blocks surrounding the stadium a few times and look for an open spot. You may have about a 5 – 10 minute walk, which you can gauge how you feel about that with the heat. You will want to focus on the streets running east and west with Presidential names. If you can’t parallel park, you may want to search for a cheap lot.
Lots of Cheap, Metered Parking on the "Presidential" Streets Nearby
There are also a good amount of private lots in the area where you can park for less than a beer. The D-backs games don’t usually sellout, so most of the smaller private lots have an easy in and easy out after the game. You shouldn’t have a problem finding a cheap lot no matter which direction you come from, most of which are a couple of blocks from the stadium.
Another nice option for parking at Chase Field is Parking Panda. This website lets you pre-pay and reserve a spot ahead of time so you can cut out some of the stress and guesswork when it comes to finding a spot. Certainly that isn't a bad option.
Here are spots for upcoming games:
Best Food At & Near Chase Field
Save Money on Food
You are allowed to take food into a Diamondbacks game at Chase Field. They ask that it be in a clear plastic grocery bag so it can easily be seen by the gate security. Concession prices are always expensive, so save big money by taking your own snacks and dinner to the game. This can mean packing, or picking up something at a drive-thru on the way to the game.
You can also take sealed bottled water into Chase Field. Soft coolers are permitted along with the food and drinks, but there is a size requirement so keep it small (11x11x15 to be specific.) No glass, no cans.
Another local place that you might want to try if you are from out of town, or from Phoenix but have never tried, is Mrs. White's Golden Rule Cafe. Its mostly home cooking, but I like eating at small hole in the wall type places like this when I can. It gets crowded at peak times, but if you leave early for the game you can get a great dinner.
Food You Shouldn't Miss at Chase Field
1. Hungry Hill Sandwichs - you can find Hungry Hill all over the park (sections 112, 122, 315, and 326), and these loaded gems are meaty gifts from the D-Backs to you. The sausages are phenomenal, and the meatball parm is a taste straight out of Italy. Carnivores can't miss it.
2. Churro Dog - take a Long John chocolate-glazed doughnut. Split it, put in a hot, cinnamon-y Churro, top the whole thing with fro-yo, chocolate, caramel, and a sprinkling of calories and unicorn tears. It'll kill you, I'm sure, but you will not care in the least because it is a work of art. Delicious art. Look for the lines at sections 114 and 123.
3. Lo-Lo's Chicken and Waffles - if you want a little bit of both sweet and meat, come to this stand by section 141. Lo-Lo's is a Pheonix institution, and they bring their delicious fried and baked treats to the ballpark. The fried green tomatoes are straight out of the South, and the spicy corn fritters feel authentically southwestern.
Fried Green Tomatoes, Made Crispy by a Local Favorite
Cheap Diamondback Tickets
At this point, nearly every Major League team has some kind of variable pricing model where depending on how in-demand a game is, the ticket prices you'll pay at the gate may go up or down.
Sometimes pricing varies from day to day, other times it is a more formal "tiered" structure where when they are playing a big draw team like the Yankees, you'll pay a premium price compared to a perennial bottom-dweller who might be in the "budget tier."
So rather than focusing on specific prices and sections which tend to change fairly often, I want to talk about general rules and strategies for getting the best deals on tickets.
1. Compare 3rd Party Sites
SeatGeek is a big time ticket comparison site that lets you compare a bunch of different ticket brokers, marketplaces, etc. and find the best price for the game you want to go to. They also have a tool that projects whether ticket prices will go up or down - AKA whether you should buy now or wait.
2. Buy Last Minute
If you've bought tickets online before, you've heard of StubHub. What you may not know however is that with the rise of print-at-home and tickets on your mobile phone via the Ballpark App that you can usually buy tickets right up to a couple of hours before game time.
As someone who has sold a fair share of tickets on StubHub, I also know that sellers are encouraged to set a declining price for their tickets. This means they'll set a starting price and then their lowest acceptable price, and StubHub will auto-magically lower the price of those tickets as the event date gets closer.
So in many cases, a game that isn't sold out will have plenty of below face value deals on StubHub that you can snatch at the last minute and then either print at home, or just use the App on your phone to get scanned into the game.
There are Many Photo-Ops Outside the Park, But Everyone Goes for the Bats - via Flickr user Alan Stark
3. Avoid Craigslist
It's not to say that you can't find ticket deals on Craigslist, you can. It is just more of a peace of mind, safety issue. I'm a Craigslist kind of guy, but I also know it's easy to get screwed buying baseball tickets there.
Remember when I mentioned selling on StubHub? When you list tickets there, all you need to know is the barcode number from that ticket along with the other details on section, row, etc. - So when I sell tickets I never mail them to the buyer, they just print them at home and my actual tickets become void.
If I was a shady character, I could go sell those void tickets to an unsuspecting buyer on Craigslist for cash. The tickets look real, they are "real" in a sense - but what that buyer will find out is when they go to enter the stadium, the ticket scanner will say "thou shalt not enter thy game."
Don't be that buyer.
Stick to buying tickets from SeatGeek, StubHub, or directly from the team. You can still get deals and you never have to worry about being scammed.
Best Value Seats at Chase Field
When looking for ticket values at Chase Field, you can buy tickets for cheaper than a beer from the team. These will get you outfield reserve seats, which are a little far away but you can move to a different section if you would like. If you are trying to move to better seats at a ballpark, you probably shouldn’t get greedy. Be happy with moving to upper deck seats behind the plate, which get you a much better view but don’t generally have people checking tickets.
My personal vote for best bang for your buck at Chase Field is the bullpen reserve section in 108 and 136. These are about half the price of the next section over, with virtually the same view. There are specific seats here that are better than others. Certainly if you can get to row one that would be ideal, but as close as you can will do. Notice in the image below that part of the section actually runs down by the field, in front of the foul pole. The low rows will put you down there, which is where you want to
The bleacher seats aren’t bad either; they do have seat backs unlike some bleachers. These are very affordable, and a good way to get close to the action for not a lot of money. If you have kids, this is a great way to splurge because you are in home run territory and are within earshot of the outfielders who will occasionally toss up a ball if they get the final put-out.
Kids that I know might get quickly disinterested sitting far away in the upper deck, keeping them close to the field might buy you some time to actually watch the game for a few minutes between bathroom and concession breaks. Why pay for upper deck behind the plate when you could pay the same and potentially be hanging over the outfield wall? That is just one man’s opinion. It's also hotter the higher up you go, and kids will notice.
Seats at the Very Upper Deck are Cheap But Can Be Too Distant for Kids - via Flickr user Clintus
A couple of other things I want to mention about the best seats at Chase Field. They have a good portion of the seats down the line which sit at a funny angle. If you have no idea what I am talking about, some modern stadiums turn seats at an angle to face the pitchers mound. I know many people, including me, who don’t really like those seats. They feel more cramped in my opinion, if you are a bigger person, and they can get a little uncomfortable for your back. It just feels odd. I don’t have a comprehensive list about which sections to avoid, but staying somewhere in the infield or in the bleacher seats will definitely keep you facing straight on.
Where to Stay While Visiting Chase Field
My favorite way to travel to a baseball game is to stay as close to the stadium as possible and walk, or take Uber so I don't have to fool with parking in a strange place.
AirBnB is the best way to find a really cool house or apartment to rent so you can hang out with your friends/family before the game and get a more authentic local experience. Perhaps more than any other location, AirBnB is also awesome because you can rent entire houses with private pools. Lots of houses are available for pennies a night with their own pools.
Not only is it cooler than a hotel, but you can save $35 on your first stay by using my referral link.
There are 2 types of rentals - those where you rent a private room and stay with a host and those where you rent out the whole place. I've done both, and you'll have some peace of mind about the people you rent from because of the review system they have for the hosts - so you have a high degree of confidence that you won't end up on the bad side of a future Dateline NBC episode.
Best of all, you usually can find places to stay that are within walking distance to Chase Field, if you can stand the heat.
Obviously places come and go on the site, but I've used AirBnB a number of times for sports road trips and it's become my default option when I'm traveling. Click the button below to save $35 on your first trip and see what kind of cool places are currently available near the ballpark:
Free Stuff at Chase Field
1. Phoenix Children's Hospital Sandlot - this awesome kids area, on the Upper Concourse, offers activities for kids while bringing attention to a great local cause. Kids can take batting practice at the Futures Field. Or they may want to swing by during the 4th inning, when D-Backs mascot Baxter the Bobcat hangs out at his den.
There's Tons of Fun for the Kids! - via Flickr user Nick Bastian
2. Rotunda Murals - upon entering the main gate, stop for a moment in the first level concourse. Around the exterior is the stunning mural depicting the history of sport, moving from ancient times to the formation of the Diamondbacks in 1998. Upper levels also feature murals of important Arizonan historical and cultural themes.