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Mudville: April 15, 2024 3:44 pm PDT

Peoria Sports Complex: Seattle Mariners

“Cold! If the thermometer had been an inch longer, we’d all have frozen to death.”― Mark Twain

Full disclosure – I’ve been pretty lucky this year. It wasn’t long ago that #thefoodguy was traveling the country finding small, locally owned hot dog stands while patiently waiting for stadiums to reopen. Doing my part in a locked down world to help those fighting to survive while making friends and memories.

In a world where live sports seemed more like a dream than a reality, we figured out how to outlast Covid and get our butts back in the bleachers. Two weeks into the “Behind the Dish – Spring Training” stadium tour I hit my first wall… or was it a hurdle?

Peoria Sports Complex on a gloomy night.

Sounds like an obstacle to me.

On this “spring” night in Arizona I walked into a small baseball complex on a brisk, rainy 48-degree night at first pitch to find a stadium void of people but full of food.

I could grab a ticket and a few food options, make my videos and be on my way right? I’m kind of a weather wuss after spending 14 years in Arizona and the last five in sunny Florida where anything under 70 derees is “hoodie SZN”. If there were 200 people in attendance I would be blown away.

I opted to do a lap and see what food was going to be available before taking my wet, plastic seat two rows up on the third base line. The stadium was different then the parks in Florida. The netting and plastic walls that were erected to prevent flying foul balls and fan interactions were missing.

The Sonora Dog.

You could get an autograph or catch a foul ball like it was 2019. I was a little shocked, but happy to see things might actually be returning to some kind of normal. It’s going to be the little things that start making the biggest impact in a return to a life before Covid where fans filled stadiums, interacted with players and if they were lucky, caught a foul ball ripped down the line and into the stands. Getting into the gates was always the biggest OBSTACLE fans faced… and we’re in!

You’re getting greedy…

I like to think of it as optimistic, but greed is good too. I can tell you the biggest difference from the Grapefruit to the Cactus League was the mask wearing and the free parking. Two really nice surprises while enjoying a baseball game on a cold, spring night in the desert. So, I guess I should get into that aspect of the night.

The stadium is cute. Something between a fancy high school park or a small college stadium. It doesn’t seat a lot of people and it’s easy to navigate. Every seat is a good seat, and the lawn was squared out with little spray-painted boxes so people could still pull up a blanket and enjoy the wet grass.

The eateries weren’t all open, but they had more than enough to choose from. The traditional fare like hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jack were available in multiple parts of the park. This one has more bars than any of the parks that I’ve visited in Spring Training, somewhere between 4-6 different places to get a cocktail or a beer. By the main entrance was a row of fare-style BBQ stands, brat & sausage grills and funnel cake stations. You could get cotton candy or dolled up grilled cheese from one of the many food trucks that littered the outfield, or you can enjoy a ½ pound pretzel or Sonora dog; #thefoodguy had one of each.

``Hey point that thing somewhere else``. The Brat.

OOOoooooooh you never talk about the food!

Correct and I don’t plan on getting into the details today either. The rules have always been the same- watch the episode to really get the full food experience. Despite the cold, rainy weather and an extra whiney reviewer who spent as much time complaining about the weather as I did bragging about the food, I think the Peoria Sports Complex would probably be a great place to catch a game under different circumstances. The staff was helpful, even going out of their way to dry seats before you sat down and the views from any seat were worth the price of admission. I’m heading back to Florida for next week’s BTD and I’m hoping for blue skies and sunshine, but I’ll be back in AZ before the spring season ends.

Lots more parks to visit and lots more food to explore.

Stay tuned and Stay Hungry. #thefoodguy

Peoria Sports Complex: 16101 N. 83rd Ave. Peoria, AZ 85382

Rating: “The Babe Buffet” – BBQ, Grilled Cheese, Brats, ½ lb. Pretzels, Burgers, etc.

Major League Teams: The Arizona Diamondbacks (Phoenix, AZ)

Minor League Teams: AZL Mariners, AZL Padres and Peoria Javelinas

Other Baseball: The Arizona Fall League and MLB Cactus League (Spring Training)

The “Stadium Food Scale” for ballparks in 2021 (from worst to first):

  • Dumpster Fire – On the menu or in the bowl- this shit stinks.
  • School Fair – Everything is greasy, everything is fried — Limited options.
  • The “Take me Out” – Traditional food, but nothing special.
  • Fancy Pants – Sushi, Steaks and monocle wearing worthy menu options. Fancy.
  • The Babe Buffet — Everything you need and a bunch of things you didn’t. This is the end all be all of stadium food. Limitless options and so much food, even George Herman Ruth would tap out.

Father, husband, runner, and food guy. Baseball traveler, stadium food connoisseur, and podcast fill-in. Just here for the hot dogs.

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