2013 Brewers Spring Training guide
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Feb. 28, 2013 at 5:31 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.
Rarely has there been a Brewers spring training riddled with more unknowns. Who's playing first base? Will Ryan Braun be suspended, and when? How will the World Baseball Classic affect players' preparation for the season?
These are all legitimate questions, and if you go to Arizona to watch the Brewers' spring training, you can find the answers – first-hand.
While your friends are shoveling snow, you can watch baseball every day. Cheaply. In Arizona. Do you really need any more convincing?
If so, here's our 2013 Brewers spring training guide.
Cactus League basics
The Brewers play 33 Cactus League games in a schedule that kicked off on Feb. 23 and wraps up on March 28, before the Crew plays three exhibition games at Miller Park. They have only three days off on March 4, 14 and 26. Almost all games are played at 1:05 p.m. local time, which is either one or two hours behind Milwaukee – Arizona doesn't do Daylight Savings Time. Milwaukee plays at the Diamondbacks on March 13 at 7:10 p.m., and Spring Training night games are very cool. The World Baseball Classic has made this year's schedule a little different, and the Brewers actually square off against Canada's team on March 5 at Maryvale.
In total, Arizona hosts 15 teams in the Cactus League, which means you can see lots of teams at lots of different stadiums -- and you'll absolutely, positively need a car for this trip. With the Diamondbacks and the Rockies moving to Salt River Fields two years ago, the entire league is now based in the Phoenix area – no more day trips to Tucson.
There are clusters of teams in each part of the area – Kansas City, Texas, Seattle and San Diego in the northwest, for example – which can help cut down on your driving if you book your lodging nearby.
Cincinnati, one of the Crew's NL Central rivals, moved to Arizona two years ago, too, meaning that the Cactus League now has equaled the number of teams in the rival Grapefruit League in Florida. And, personal bias aside, fans who've been to both Arizona and Florida will almost unanimously agree that the Cactus League is more fun.
The Brewers train at Maryvale Baseball Park, 3600 N. 51st Ave. – a short jaunt west of downtown Phoenix off of I-10. Upon opening 13 years ago, Maryvale got a bad rap from some Midwesterners, who claim the park is in a rough area of town and not as aesthetically pleasing as newer stadiums. For those mapping the address, Maryvale is technically part of Phoenix.
While it's nothing like its upscale Scottsdale counterpart where the Giants play, Maryvale is safe, with plenty of good parking available. You probably wouldn't pick the neighborhood as your nighttime hangout, but it's spacious and friendly, and it has a field shaped just like Miller Park. Maryvale is starting to show its age; some of the newer stadiums are simply beautiful, but remember, you probably won't spend too many games at the same stadium during your trip. Notably, the Brewers' have extended their lease at Maryvale, which means both players and fans will start to see improvements to the park.
For accommodations, look for a hotel that's centrally located between all the parks. You can't go wrong in Tempe or Scottsdale. Keep in mind, though, that Phoenix traffic is notoriously bad, and some parks are a 45-minute drive from anywhere. If you're looking to go upscale, you've got tons of options; among the best are the Four Seasons, Hotel Valley Ho, Westin Kierland and InterContinental Montelucia. All of these properties are awesome in different ways.
The last several years, the OnMilwaukee.com spring training group has stayed at the Sheraton Crescent, which is your closest and best choice if you'll be seeing games at Maryvale.
This year, we're trying out three new places, Diamond's Scottsdale Links Resort and Scottsdale Villa Mirage. We'll report back for our review of the resorts later this month, but interested travelers should take note of their four-day, three-night offer for $149. More information is at (877) 473-4020.
Additionally, we're spending one night at the new Hotel Palomar Phoenix.
Even though the games don't count, there are always some great story lines that arise during each Spring Training. If you have the chance to catch multiple games, a few players will surely catch your eye and you can match your scouting skills with those of the pros.
In the first half of March, it's all about talent assessment, and the Brewers will trot out dozens of young players in every game. Since all of the minor league affiliates train in Maryvale, you'll feel constantly surrounded by an army of no-name Brewers. But these are the stars of tomorrow and when they reach Miller Park you can say you saw them when.
Get to games as early as you can, as watching these prospects practice is an experience you won't get in Milwaukee. They run from field to field – Maryvale has a handful – chatting and mingling with the fans. Most will sign autographs if you ask nicely. Be sure to bring your own baseballs, baseball cards and Sharpie pens for the players to sign because they obviously aren't toting these in their back pockets. Kids fare best so encourage your children not to be shy.
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