Scottsdale Stadium renovations proposed to address more than baseball

Scottsdale Stadium, 7408 E. Osborn Road, is the only Cactus League spring training stadium in a downtown setting. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Looking to expand its offerings to residents and visitors alike, Scottsdale Stadium is embarking upon improvements to its iconic landmark facility in Old Town.

Scottsdale Stadium, which opened in 1956, is the only Cactus League venue apart a downtown setting, at 7408 E. Osborn Road. In 1992, it underwent a complete rebuild and was last renovated in 2005.

The stadium is mainly utilized in the spring and fall for baseball games.

The San Francisco Giants have called the Scottsdale Stadium their home for spring training for several years, while the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League utilize the facility in the latter part of the year, including the championship game at the end of November.

Prior to the Giants moving in, other Major League Baseball teams such as the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Oakland A’s used the stadium over the past 60-plus years.

Officials say there are no plans for a second MLB team to take up residence at Scottsdale Stadium for spring training at this time.

The city is now moving forward with a series of renovations that will address several areas within the plan, such as improved seating and shade, additional viewing areas, and expansions to the clubhouse, player training areas and special events areas.

The renovations were spurred by a Scottsdale Stadium Master Plan that was completed this year.

The stadium seats 12,000 for baseball games, but plans include making the space available for more year-round types of events and uses, Scottsdale Charros Executive Director Dennis Robbins says.

“The reason for renovations are to make sure we have the best baseball facility possible for the Giants and for spring training because we were essentially created to host and help run spring training — it’s essential that spring training remain strong and vibrant in Scottsdale, so we’re very much in favor of renovations,” Mr. Robbins explained.

“One of the cool things about it is that it’s always been looked at as a multi-use facility and it has been used for other things besides spring training in the off season, but this renovation includes a 10,000-square-foot multi-use space. It would be unique to downtown Scottsdale, there’s really no space like that.”

For 57 years the Scottsdale Charros have been in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage. Mr. Robbins points out the Charros and the Giants have had a 30-plus year relationship, calling the team “great partners.”

In March, Scottsdale City Council approved a $5 million budget for the design process to begin; followed by a July approval of a design and construction contract with AECOM/Hunt, along with the city’s design team from DWL and Populous, Community Services Director Bill Murphy said.

Independent archives show on July 2, Hunt Construction Group was awarded $3,701,125 to manage the building design phases for the renovation project; and Marc Taylor signed an agreement worth $1,253,113 to provide design services for the multi-use event center portion of the project.

Final construction costs are not yet known, city officials say. Elements in the master plan are estimated to be between $40 million-$60 million, the city’s website states.

City officials say, so far, much of the design reviews have been favorable.

In November, the proposed plans were displayed at an open house for the community, and in early December, Experience Scottsdale received a presentation on the renovation plans.

“The information we have shared with groups, commissions and neighbors who attended our open house last month has been favorable,” Mr. Murphy said.

“The changes are significant. We are building a new clubhouse, with a multi-use in door area, enhanced entry, pressbox enhancement, new seating and shade options for fans.”

Mr. Murphy says the design plans will hopefully be finalized in late January.


Significant upgrades

A Scottsdale city staff report from spring 2018 explains that given the current age of the stadium, coupled with the increased demand of events and larger crowd attendance, the municipality, the Scottsdale Charros and the Giants all share the desire for a long-term extension of the Giants commitment to downtown Scottsdale, as well as several upgrades.

Upgrades to be considered as part of the renovations includes:

  • Left field berm fan amenity additions with ADA access: multi-use concourse deck with shade; upgrade and expansion to left field restroom and entry plaza;
  • Additional shade for the Charro Lodge area;
  • Revise centerfield concession/restroom building to accommodate restroom expansion;
  • Seating bowl upgrades to include: refinements and diversity of seating options; left/right field bleach area with fixed seats; and expansion of shade options for existing seating areas;
  • Clubhouse refinements/expansion and accommodations for year-round multi-use event facility;
  • Auxiliary field – secure netting to enclose for use by major league team – field safety;
  • Enhanced/expansion offices, administration, suite areas – press box area;
  • Upgrades for building, safety codes, maintenance, cooling and heating, wifi and other technologies; and
  • Revise main entry plaza to accommodate baseball entry and multi-use event flexibility.

The renovations will be delivered in multiple phases to allow spring training and Arizona Fall League baseball to continue at the stadium with minimal impact, officials say. Plans outlined improvements taking place over the next couple of years.

Details show that the right field baseball improvements include modified parking, two new half-fields, a new agility field, new cardio patio and new gang mounds, among other aspects.

Also, multi-use spaces, which could be independent or combined, account for 10 sections of the stadium.

“With the new Scottsdale Master Plan, there are 10 different multi-use or activity zones that could be utilized throughout the facility, both individually or collectively. For example, one function could occur in zone 1 while another function could happen in zone 3, i.e. the multi-use room of the clubhouse,” a staff presentation of artist renderings state.

“For larger scale events, all the zones could be combined, providing a wide variety of venue opportunities.”

The current contract with the Giants is through 2025, with two five-year extension options.

San Francisco Giants national championships don Scottsdale Stadium. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Additionally, to accommodate needs for the Giants, on Nov. 26, Scottsdale contracted with the city of Phoenix for the use of Papago Sports Complex, at the northwest corner of 64th Street and McDowell Road.

In 2016, Phoenix entered into a letter of agreement with the city of Scottsdale to allow the San Francisco giants to utilize the Papago baseball complex for player development and practice in the event the Scottsdale practice fields became temporary unavailable, a November city staff report states. The letter also expressed Scottsdale’s intent to explore the possibility of permanently relocating the Giants’ player development from Scottsdale Indian School Park to Papago Sports Complex.

The action is the result of a three-year master plan analysis by Scottsdale and the Giants to determine the appropriate long-term facilities for spring training and year-round player development. Additionally, it will provide the Giants with a permanent, dedicated year-round player development facility at the Papago Sports Complex and allow expanded public use of Indian School Park and Scottsdale Stadium in the near future, the staff report states.

In March of this year, the cities of Scottsdale and Phoenix jointly executed a letter of intent for the use of the facility by the Giants to move their player development program. The Papago complex is to be fully functional for operation by January 2021 under a 35 year lease, the staff report stated.

(Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Community support

The Scottsdale Charros are an integral component of the Scottsdale Stadium, as they’ve been hosting spring training since 1961, and it is a main fundraiser for the all-male group.

Funds raised through the sale of Charro Lodge passes, stadium and magazine advertising are donated back to the community. Over the last five decades, the Scottsdale Charros and The Charro Foundation have donated millions of dollars back into the community through grants and donation to local nonprofits and schools in the Scottsdale Unified School District.

In 2018, the Scottsdale Charros awarded more than $1 million to local nonprofit organizations, SUSD schools and programs for college scholarships.

Mr. Robbins says the Charro Lodge, a VIP section of the stadium out on right field, is a small part of the renovation plans, which is to include permanent shade.

Dennis Robbins, Scottsdale Charros executive director, pictured at an Experience Scottsdale event earlier this year. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

“Renovations will include permanent shade, which will be great for people who come out to the Charro Lodge,” he said, noting that the city asked the Charros to pay for renovations specific to the Lodge.

“We’ve agreed to fund our portion of the renovations; we’re happy to do that and feel that we should be a part of that.”

Mr. Robbins says spring training is more than just the 30 days of baseball, as the Giants return to Scottsdale about a month or six weeks before the exhibition games begin.

“(They) use the stadium for getting ready and practicing and getting ready for the season — the other nine or 10 months out of the year, the city really wants to activate that stadium,” Mr. Robbins explained.

“It’s such a jewel and an asset. I think you’ll have tourism industry, corporate events, meetings, ballroom — it will be one of the largest physical spaces indoors, air conditioned. We see this multi-use facility as something we can even hold our events in.”

Looking to the future, Mr. Robbins says the stability of spring training is something the Charros would like to solidify further.

“Who knew what the Phoenix Open was going to turn into 20-30 years ago. We’re hoping spring training — who knows what it will look like in 10, 20, 30 years, but we’re trying to plan for the future, and yeah, we want to grow our portion of it,” he said.

“The more money we raise, the more money that goes back into the community for education and the charities we support. So we’re hoping to grow our potion of our fundraising efforts through these renovations. I know all the parties to this — the city, the Giants — want to continue to grow. We think these renovations can help everyone in the equation.”

While some Valley spring training facilities house two MLB teams, Mr. Robbins says he doesn’t see that in the cards for Scottsdale Stadium, saying having two teams would be practically difficult for the facility.

“I know that’s the trend, but normally that happens when you have a stadium in the middle, one team practices on one side and another on the other side. That happens when you have a lot more land, we’re very constrained where we are,” he said. “I don’t see that happening, but like I said, you never know what could happen in the future. Currently, that’s not the thinking or what people are proposing.”

Mr. Murphy also confirmed that the city doesn’t anticipate a second team at this time.

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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