Phoenix is a decent sport town, albeit one where a lot of visitors and transplants retain loyalty to the home teams back east. Some barely notice, but the Valley has pro franchises in the big four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. Add to this baseball’s spring training Cactus League, golf and tennis tournaments, the annual Fiesta Bowl college football classic, and any number of ASU sports, and you’ll generally be able to find a game going on any time of year. Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com; tel. 866/448-7849 or 800/745-3000) sells tickets to most events; for sold-out games, try Stubhub.com. ASU collegiate sports tix can be found at www.thesundevils.com.
Auto Racing—At the ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix International), 7602 S. Avondale Blvd. at Baseline Rd., Avondale (www.ismraceway.com; tel. 866/408-7223), there’s NASCAR and Indy Car racing on the world’s fastest 1-mile oval. Tickets generally range from around $10 to $120.
Baseball—The Arizona Diamondbacks (www.diamondbacks.com; tel. 888/777-4664 or 602/462-6500) have a devoted fan base and regularly pack downtown Phoenix’s impressive Chase Field, opened in 1998. The ballpark’s retractable roof allows for comfortable play during the blistering summers; it’s one of only a few enclosed baseball stadiums with natural grass. Tickets are sold through Ticketmaster, MLB.com, and the Chase Field box office. For some games you can get in for as little as $15; top tickets can be $175-plus. There are three guided tours a day, the last one starting at 12:30pm. Tours cost $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $3 for kids 4 to 6.
Cactus League spring training games, which involve more than a dozen major-league baseball teams, have become a huge draw in March and April; more than 200 games are played at 10 mini-stadiums spread across the entire Valley. Prices start at reasonable—you can get lawn tickets for less than $10—up to as much as $80 for the hottest seats, and of course pricey VIP packages are available. Buy tickets early, particularly for weekend games, if you have your heart set on perennial favorites like the Cubbies or the Giants. While all the teams have their “home” stadiums, they also play a lot of “away” games. So if you’re a Cleveland Indians fan, “home” is in Goodyear, in the far west Valley, but the team may also play games at a stadium 20 or 30 miles away—peruse the schedule a bit to figure out where to stay. None of the stadiums are close to downtown Phoenix; there’s one in central Scottsdale, however. Check the Cactus League website (www.cactusleague.com) for maps, schedules, and tickets.
Basketball—The NBA’s Phoenix Suns play at the Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 E. Jefferson St. (www.suns.com; tel. 800/462-2849 or 602/379-7867). Most tickets cost between $10 and $275. Suns games usually sell out. Buy long in advance or hit the resale sites. Phoenix’s WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (mercury.wnba.com; tel. 602/252-9622 or 602/514-8331), plays at the same arena between May and August. Tickets cost $10 to $200-plus.
Football—The Arizona Cardinals (www.azcardinals.com; tel. 800/999-1402 or 602/379-0102) play at the 65,000-seat state-of-the-art University of Phoenix Stadium in the west Valley city of Glendale. This stadium has a retractable roof made of translucent fabric—and a movable 2-acre playing field, which is rolled out into the sun outside the stadium during rock concerts and other uses. Ticket prices range from $50 to $445; single-game tickets for the entire season go on sale in late July.
Golf Tournaments—Late January’s Waste Management Phoenix Open Golf Tournament (www.wastemanagementphoenixopen.com; tel. 602/870-0163) is the golf event of the year. Held at the Tournament Players Club (TPC) of Scottsdale, it attracts more spectators than any other golf tournament in the world (usually more than 500,000 each year). The 18th hole has standing room for 40,000. Tickets start at $25.
Hockey—The NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes (www.phoenixcoyotes.com; tel. 480/563-7825) plays at the state-of-the-art Jobing.com Arena in Glendale (northwest of downtown Phoenix). Tickets cost $36 to $354.
Horse Racing—Turf Paradise, 1501 W. Bell Rd., Phoenix (www.turfparadise.com; tel. 602/942-1101) offers racing from early October to early May, generally Saturdays through Wednesdays. Tickets are $3, free Mondays through Wednesdays; reserved clubhouse seats are $5.
Rodeos, Polo & Horse Shows—There’s no real Phoenix rodeo, but there is a rodeo with Scottsdale’s annual Western parade, the Parada del Sol, in early March (www.paradadelsol.net), held at WestWorld of Scottsdale, 16601 N. Pima Rd., Scottsdale (www.westworldaz.com; tel. 480/312-6802). WestWorld also hosts the annual massive Arabian horse show in the second week of February each year. The American Quarter Horse Association’s Arizona Sun Circuit of shows is very popular (for info, go to www.suncircuit.com). Farther north, Prescott hosts Prescott Frontier Days at the end of June each year (for info, go to www.worldsoldestrodeo.com), and Wickenburg hosts all manner of roping events; check www.arizonateamroping.com.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.