PHOENIX -- The Brewers prefer to keep their Spring Training base in Arizona, owner Mark Attanasio said on Saturday while expressing a growing urgency to settle the question once and for all.The team has called Maryvale Baseball Park its Spring Training home since 1998, and while the West Phoenix complex
PHOENIX -- The Brewers prefer to keep their Spring Training base in Arizona, owner Mark Attanasio said on Saturday while expressing a growing urgency to settle the question once and for all.
The team has called Maryvale Baseball Park its Spring Training home since 1998, and while the West Phoenix complex has its pluses -- most notably that the Brewers don't have to share it with another club -- it has fallen behind other facilities in Arizona and Florida and is surrounded by a neighborhood that is unfriendly to tourism. The Brewers are currently in a series of eight one-year options to train at Maryvale but have been exploring alternatives.
Brewers executive vice president of finance and administration Bob Quinn has been leading those efforts. Attanasio suggested recent talk of a "potential solution" in Arizona, though he didn't specify which community the club was eyeing.
"It's hard to handicap these things," Attanasio said. "We do have to bring these things to a conclusion at some point. Now with the player development focus we have, we've got to have upgraded facilities."
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One option is remaining at Maryvale but expanding the Major League clubhouse and offices. Or the Brewers could move. Reports in recent years have linked them to Peoria, Ariz., and to a tract of land in North Scottsdale near Bell Rd. and the Loop 101 freeway, but talks with those communities hit roadblocks.
"[Arizona] is our leading contender," Attanasio said. "It's our first choice and our second choice. But at some point, we have to have facilities that we think are best in class for development purposes. That's going to take precedence."
Fans start the party
Never mind the chilly temperatures, or the rain, or the fact that it was still only the second full week of February. For Brewers fan Andy Hatch and his friends, Saturday marked the start of tailgating season.
Hatch and five other Phoenix-area Brewers fans set up in the parking lot at Maryvale Baseball Park on Saturday with food and adult beverages for their sixth annual pre-Spring Training tailgate. Typically, the event takes place at someone's house. This time, they partied in view of the Brewers' first full-squad workout.
Hatch, who lives in Goodyear, Ariz., but hails from La Crosse, Wis., shares a block of 10 seats behind the dugout for every Brewers home Spring Training game with Terry Wiegel, who originally is from Shullsburg, Wis., but now lives in Peoria. They tailgate before every game, but lately, that did not seem like enough.
"Over the last few years, we all get a little itchy for Spring Training to come around," Hatch said. "Why wait for [games]?"
The Brewers' first exhibition game is Friday against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Their first Cactus League home game is Feb. 26 against the Dodgers.
There's always a window
The Brewers held a shorter-than-usual team meeting before their first full-squad workout on Saturday in order to take advantage of a window of dry weather on an otherwise dreary day. On Sunday, they will push back the schedule two hours in an effort to find similar luck. Fans wishing to attend the workout should expect the team to take the field around noon MST.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.