After two renovation phases, Peoria Sports Complex is looking better than ever, with an expanded footprint, lots of socializing areas and upgraded fan facilities.
The renovation of the spring home of the San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners is a three-phase project. The first renovation phase focused on the player facilities, as clubhouses were expanded and upgraded. The second renovation, which took place this offseason, address fan features and comfort. Approximately 1,000 new seats were installed (most with cupholders), including two new rows in front of the existing seating. The playing field was lowered and seating down the line reoriented to home plate.
The ballpark’s expanded footprint also includes a new 4,900-square-foot building on the third-base side that features a new team store, restrooms, bar, and second-level group area.
A new concrete concourse expanded capacity in the outfield and left-field corner, with the wraparound concourse now a spacious place to stroll before or during a game. The signature berm remains, but the addition of a large 2,400-square-foot social pavilion – designed for groups, but open to the public if not reserved by a group – and shaded bar area provides a perfect space to hang out with friends.
This social pavilion isn’t the only shaded area in the outfield concourse: a 60-foot Four Peaks Brewing Company tent serves Short Hop Session IPA, Kilt Lifter, Sunbru and Peach Ale, along with other craft-beer offerings, while a right-field all-you-can-east tent offers ballpark goodies for $20.
All in all, the changes raised total ballpark capacity to 12,339.
Still a central part of the spring-training experience: Autograph Alley down the right-field line (shown to the right), where fans like up against the fence in an attempt to snare autographs from players entering the ballpark.
The next (and final) phase of the renovation, expected to cost $3.6 million: bleachers down each line will be replaced by fixed seating, while a Kids’ Zone, complete with splash pad, will be installed down the left-field line. The Kids’ Zone is slated to be open year-round.
The food has always been good at Peoria Sports Complex, and bringing in Professional Sports Catering last year upped the quality. The basic $4.50 hot dog is robust, and $6.50 specialty dogs available in a grandstand stand offer an interesting mix of flavors. (We tried to the Porker, a hot dog topped with pulled pork, cole slaw and BBQ sauce – tasty.) There were long lines waiting for a foot-long brat, and a concessions cluster down the third-base line featured gyros, Mexican, BBQ, noodles, ice cream and more.
Beer stands (branded as Seattle and San Diego outposts) are at each end of the grandstand concourse, with the likes of Stone IPA, Schofferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen, and Angry Orchard Cider on tap. In general, Peoria Stadium is a great spot for a beer lover, with a wide variety of craft beers and macrobrews on tap and available in cans and bombers throughout the grandstand and concourse. There are also plenty of places to hang out and drink that bomber: drink rails were installed on both sides of the scoreboard, in the right-field corner and within the Social Pavilion. As noted, this is the place we’d recommend heading to immediately when you hit the ballpark: you can buy a $15 lawn ticket and stake a place at the bar or bar rail. The only problem with this shaded spot: you can’t see the scoreboard, and there’s no auxiliary signage in the seating bowl. Perhaps in the next round of renovations Peoria can find some money for auxiliary signage in the grandstand for the folks in the berm and Social Pavilion.
But this is a quibble. Peoria Sports Complex has always been one of the more popular spots in the Valley of the Sun to take in a spring-training game, and when you combine the many ballpark renovations with improved San Diego and Seattle squads, a ticket here is now one of the hottest in the Cactus League. We’d recommend taking in a game before the crowds descend.