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You Can't Beat Fun at the New Ballpark -- Sometimes!
A critique of Camelback Ranch

by Mary Boyd Swistara

As most Sox fans know, the team moved this year from their ST home in Tucson to their new digs in Glendale. Camelback Ranch is big and beautiful. Iíve now attended two ST games in the new park, and the experiences have been vastly different.  

Monday, March 9th, Chicago White Sox vs. Cleveland Indians.

MrMarySwiss and I went to this game accompanied by Kevin, our Tribe fan friend. Getting to the park was effortless, as was the parking. The seats were great: third row, right behind the Indians dugout. Food and beverage lines were short, sightlines were awesome, and even though the Tribe won the game, we all had a wonderful time. I was ecstatic about our new Spring Training home. 

But, then came the second game: 

Saturday, March 21st, Chicago White Sox vs. Chicago Cubs.

Okay, it was a weekend game, and it was the Cubs, but wow! Getting to the park was horrible, as was the parking. Since we got there at game time--unavoidable--we found ourselves parking out in the middle of nowhere. The people ďdirectingĒ traffic in the parking lot were clueless. Several of them were waving their little wands seemingly at random, and Iím surprised there werenít a lot of fender-benders in the lot (although we saw a couple on the way to the game). The parking lot resembled a Keystone Kops movie scene, with cars, vans, and SUVs weaving around, narrowly missing each other in some cases. One guy in a huge SUV kept pulling in and backing out of a space, and although there were at least three parking lot attendants there, no one took charge and told him what to do.  

Then came the part where we had to walk to the main entrance, which didnít seem to be that far away, until we found that we had to detour around the Sox playersí fenced-in parking lot. There was a gate that provided a major shortcut, but it was locked. (It was also locked when we tried to exit the facility in around the seventh inning.)  

Once inside the park, things improved. The food and beverage lines were longer, but that was to be expected. My only complaint here is that they allowed far too many Cub fans in, including Ronnie Woo-Woo, who was wandering the concourse with his arm around some 20-something girl in a Cubs T-shirt. 

To sum up, this is the first year in the new facility, so they probably deserve to be cut some slack, but in case anyone thinks Iím complaining about minor stuff, Iím not. Walking as far as we had to under the hot, dry Arizona sun could easily be hazardous to anyone with health problems. When I pointed this out to one of the staff, she told me that they could provide transport in a golf cart if they were informed that it was necessary. She didnít elaborate as to how one went about informing them, however, and I saw no sign of any staff as we trudged toward the entrance. So I donít know what would have happened if someone had fainted from heat stroke in the parking lot. I was also informed that shuttle service was available, but no info was forthcoming as to where it came from and how you found it.  

The Sox, the Dodgers, and the people at Camelback Ranch really need to address some of these issues. If they are going to have remote parking in the desert, they need to provide relief stations (or at least some shade!) and have somebody patrolling the remote areas.  


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