MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) – It’s the favorite time of year for many people in the Phoenix area – spring training. One year after the coronavirus forced the cancellation of spring training mid-season, Cactus League baseball is back. Like most things, however, it’s going to look a bit different in 2021.
Kylee Cruz went to Sloan Park in Mesa, the spring training home of the Chicago Cubs, to give us the lowdown about some of the changes we will see this year. One of the big ones is capacity. Only about 4,000 people will be allowed at each game.
Lawn seating, a popular option for fans, is still available, but it is limited to physically distanced pod-style seating of two or four people. There will be no big groups. It’s the same with the stadium seating. Those pods will be available in groups of two, four, and six.
“It will be a much more intimate experience this year,” Sloane Park General Manager Justin Piper said Tuesday morning.
One of the hallmarks of spring training is the chance to interact with the players during practices. That won’t be happening this year. “The practice fields are closed this year for safety reasons,” Piper explained.
Sloan Park also has gone cashless. That’s for shopping, parking, and concessions. “Everything will be cashless, with multiple forms of credit card payment to make it easy for guests,” Piper said.
Masks are a must at Sloan Park. That goes for everyone 2 and older unless you’re “actively eating or drinking while seated.” Gaiters and masks with exhalation valves are not allowed. “Face coverings should fully cover your mouth and nose and fit snugly against the sides of your face so there are no gaps,” explains the ballpark's COVID-19 guidelines webpage. “If your mask is not compliant, Sloan Park staff will provide you with a disposable, surgical mask.”
Cubs tickets go on sale at noon Friday, Feb. 19. “We expect sales to be strong,” Piper said.
What to expect at Salt River Fields
It's a similar story at Salt River Fields, the spring training home of our Arizona Diamondback and the Colorado Rockies.
Attendance is limited to a total of 2,200 per game with socially distant pod of two, four, or six. Again, no large groups. Concessions will be cashless. Masks are required unless you're eating or drinking. Because of that, sunflower seeds and popcorn will not be snack options. They take a long time to eat, which means extended time without a mask.
Tickets go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20. If you bought tickets for games from the previous schedule, they are no longer valid and your money will be refunded. You should receive and email explaining everything.
What to expect at Goodyear Ballpark
Goodyear Ballpark, home to the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds will also have a limited number of fans. The stadium will have about 2,200 fans, which is about 21% capacity, in pod-style seating. The lawn will be closed.
All fans must wear masks unless they're eating or drinking and no bags are allowed aside from a few exceptions. The ballpark will have more hand sanitizing stations around the park, gate relocations to spread out fans coming in and out, touchless paper towel dispensers and ticketless entry. Parking is free.
Tickets go on sale for the spring training games on Feb. 19 at 10 a.m. There are no season, group and premium field box tickets available. More information can be found at goodyearbp.com.
Cactus League baseball, an Arizona tradition since 1947, starts at the end of the month, with games scheduled throughout March. Teams play at 10 ballparks throughout the Phoenix area, and each one has its own COVID-19 requirements.
Teams of the Cactus League
- Arizona Diamondbacks
- Chicago Cubs
- Chicago White Sox
- Cincinnati Reds
- Cleveland Indians
- Colorado Rockies
- Kansas City Royals
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
- LA Dodgers
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Oakland Athletics
- San Diego Padres
- San Francisco Giants
- Seattle Mariners
- Texas Rangers