The Cubs have announced their 2006 Spring Training Schedule. The Cubs will start the Cactus League games against the Oakland A’s on Thursday, March 2nd and will conclude with another Major League Weekend in Las Vegas against the San Diego Padres on March 31st and April 1st. If you have never been to Spring Training, I highly recommend it. I have been a HUGE baseball and Cubs fans for many years and last year was the first time I attended Spring Training. Our friends Jim and Lynette went with us and we had a blast. You can get so close to the players and it is a great break from the winter (that we are all tired of by then). It was actually Jim’s idea and he has created a monster. My wife and I have already made plans to go out there this year (and hopefully for many years to come).
HoHoKam Park (located in Mesa, Arizona) is basically a minor league facility. The Cubs use the park during the year for their instructional league. You drive down a typical neighborhood, and off to your left, you’ll see the park (does this sound familiar?). We made a mistake on the first day and bought seats (or should I say spots on the bleachers). It felt like a mini Wrigley Field. Cubs fans everywhere all with the Chicago accent and the next thing I hear is ‘Old Style Beer….Old Style Beer Here’. I could not believe it….Old Style Beer in the middle of Arizona. Just that name made me feel like I was at Wrigley….very cool.
The next day we had general admission tickets and that is the way to go. You can get very near the field and even talk to some of the players. The view is great and there is more room to just hang out and watch baseball. If you do general admission, my advice is to get there early and hold the spot that you want.
You have access to watch the players taking batting practice on the adjacent fields and an autograph line to get those player’s signatures that you cannot get during the season. My only regret is we did not have more time in the area and we are planning more this year.
The Spring Training season finishes in Las Vegas again this year. Every year the City of Las Vegas hosts a ‘Big League Weekend’. Las Vegas is the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers AAA farm club the Las Vegas 51’s and they play at Cashman Field in old downtown Las Vegas. I had a business trip that landed me in the area last year and I was able to catch one of those games. Cashman Field is a beautiful park and a great place to see a ballgame. Those games are a lot more formal than the games in Mesa.
Mesa and Spring Training is a great experience and if you have the opportunity….I suggest to go west.