Camelback Ranch opens this spring as the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox and promises to be one of the best places to catch a game or practice in the Cactus League. Page 3 of our preview.
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As you sit in the grandstand, you’ll see two buildings down each line. Down the first-base line is the White Sox clubhouse/training facility, and down the third-base line is the Dodgers major-league clubhouse. Both teams will enter the field from the clubhouses, albeit in slightly different ways: the White Sox will enter from a truck entrance, while the Dodgers will enter through a small tunnel under the outfield concourse and through the bullpen. You’ll be able to see each team from the concourse, but you won’t be very close to the players.
When the game starts, take a good look at the second floor of the outfield buildings past the wraparound concourse, because that’s where team officials will be. Dodger owner Frank McCourt commands a large suite and deck on the center-field side of the Los Angeles building – there’ll be no escaping him and his guests during the course of a game – while White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf has a smaller suite and deck on the center-field side of his building. The executive offices are spacious, but not sumptuous; both teams promise to use the complexes as year-round training and development facilities, so the office space is needed.
In many ways the ballpark was designed to be low-impact. Gabion walls will probably confound visitors upon their first visit to the ballpark, but they within the design aesthetic. Gabion walls are retaining walls made of stacked stones enmeshed by wire; the wire keeps the rocks from scattering, and the weight of the stones makes for an efficient retaining wall. You’ll find gabion walls throughout the outfield concourse at Camelback Ranch. Also, the fields throughout the complex are watered with reclaimed water from a local wastewater facility.
Much of what makes the complex unique, sad to say, will be out of view for most fans. The complex is designed to be a working facility, and the business of baseball now requires a 12-month approach to the game. Each team has separate, but basically equal training facilities, adapted for each team’s needs. We’re not going to get into the specific of each facility here, but let’s just say we cannot imagine a situation that won’t be addressed by one specialized space or another, whether it’s the underwater treadmills in the hydrotherapy rooms, the spacious therapy rooms, the many media rooms, the plethora of meeting rooms, or the various video rooms. Both franchises will field teams in the Arizona rookie league, and both foresee sending players to rehab under team supervision. And, of course, both teams are hoping players will settle in Phoenix in the winter and take advantage of the complex’s workout facilities, batting cages and more.
If you go, be prepared to make a day of it. You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to meander your way through the complex before the game, and it will take some time to make your way back to your car after the game. (Once there, it shouldn’t take long to leave the ballpark; Camelback Road between the complex and the free was widened to four lanes and a center turn lane to accommodate spring-training crowds.) But go: Camelback Ranch will provide one of the most scenic spring-training experiences in all of baseball.
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