Considering the Chicago Cubs play the regular season in one of the most charming ballparks in baseball, a visit to HoHoKam Park in March will tend to be disappointing to anyone but the most hardcore Cubbie fan. In some ways HoHoKam is the polar opposite of Wrigley Field: the old ballpark at Clark and Addison drips with history and nostalgia, while HoHoKam Park is new and bland. It’s built to accommodate the hordes of Cubs fans who descend on the Cactus League every spring, but that’s about it.
Year Opened: 1997
Dimensions: 340L, 390LC, 410C, 390RC, 350R
Playing Surface: Grass
Address/Directions: 1235 N. Center St., Mesa. From Phoenix, take 202 Loop east to exit 12 (McKellips Road), turn right on W. McKellips Road; and turn right onto N. Center Street. HoHoKam will be on the left-hand side of the street. From Tucson, take Route 10 North to 360 (Superstition Highway), to Country Club Drive exit north; turn right at Brown Road; turn left at Center Street; the ballpark is one block on the right.
Indeed, HoHoKam Park is really a Class AAA park masquerading as a spring-training facility. It certainly has the largest scoreboard in the Cactus League: a 12’x16′ instant replay video screen on a 32-foot high left-field scoreboard. The contours of the outfield wall are designed with the same dimensions of those at Wrigley Field — but, of course, there’s no ivy or brickwork. It was designed by HOK Sport, designer of Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore), Progressive Field (Cleveland), and Coors Field (Denver), so you know that there are retro touches throughout: in the case of HoHoKam, there are traditional steel trusses and steel canopy above the upper deck, but the effect is highly muted. Many of the concessions are contained in the closed grandstand, though there are stands down each line and in center field. You’re not going to go hungry here.
As if you can’t tell, we’re not huge fans of HoHoKam. You go there in March if you’re already a Cubs fan and are wondering if the team will contend or if you’re a Chicagoan sick and tired of the snow back home. You don’t go there to see a great ballpark.