Spring Training Fever Spreads To Rim Country

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Hotel room rates skyrocket, waiting lines at swank restaurants double and the battle is fierce for room at watering holes during happy hour.

It's Major League Baseball's spring training at the seven ballparks in the Valley of the Sun.

Last year, 1,240,000 fans attended a spring training game and generated an economic impact of200 million to the state.

Along with the swarms of Cubs, Royals and Brewers fans that flock to the scrimmages are growing numbers of Rim country enthusiasts eager for a looks at their favorite teams and players.

A contingent of 35 Anderson Dental Group employees and their families were among the 4,000 fans to take in an Oakland A's versus Milwaukee Brewers training game March 4 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Following a pre-game tailgate party of hot dogs and hamburgers, the Payson crowd settled in along the right field line to take in the game that was played under sunny skies and mild 70-degree temperatures.

Most Rim country sports fans have their own special park they enjoy visiting.mong them is Scottsdale Stadium where the San Francisco Giants train, and the spring home of the Chicago Cubs -- Mesa's HoHoKam Field. Both are less than a 90-minute drive from Payson.

For the cost-conscious, lawn seating at Scottsdale Stadium is $8 on weekday and $10 on weekends. The best deals, however, are at HoHoKam where lawn seating is always $5.

Other Valley parks popular among locals eager for a day away from work and a sneak peak at professional baseball without the high ticket prices are Tempe Diablo Stadium (Anaheim Angels) and Phoenix Municipal Stadium (Oakland A's). At Tempe Diablo, lawn seating is $5 and field boxes with premier seating are just $15.

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Rim country baseball fans took in the Oakland A's vs. Milwaukee Brewers spring training game March 4 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Among the spectators were Jodie Ross, Jenice Byers and Karson Ross.

Fans who don't mind driving a bit further to the Valley's west side can take in games at Surprise Stadium (Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers), Peoria Sports Complex (San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners) andaryvale Baseball Park (Milwaukee Brewers).

In Tucson, fans can find the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox at Tucson Electric Park and the Colorado Rockies at the venerable Hi Corbett Field.

The lure of spring training, however, is not only about the games on the fields. There are usually some special performances during spring training as well, such as "Nobody Don't Like Yogi," March 15 to 27 at Theater 4301 in the Galleria Corporate Center, 4301 N. Scottsdale Road. In the one-man play, Ben Gazzara performs aribute to baseball great Yogi Berra.

Other attractions include the A'Fair each Sunday through April 10 and Native Trails, noon to 1:30 p.m., Tuesdays Thursdays and Saturdays through March 31 in Old Town Scottsdale just steps from the baseball stadium.

A'Fair features live music, good eats, children's crafts, art tours and artists booths. Call (480) 994-2787 for more information.

Native Trails, a free festival of Native American music and dance, is presented by the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation. Call (480) 421-1004 for more information.

For spring training baseball tickets call:

Diamondbacks: (866) 672-1343

Chicago Cubs: (800) 905-3315

Chicago White Sox: (866) 672-1343

Colorado Rockies: (800) 388-765

Kansas City Royals: (800) 326-4000

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: (480) 784-4444

Milwaukee Brewers: (623) 245-5500

Oakland Athletics: (800) 225-2277

San Diego Padres: (480) 784-444

San Francisco Giants: (800) 225-2277

Seattle Mariners: (520) 321-1000

Texas Rangers: (480) 784-4444.

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