Chronological Tour: Stop 267

Desert Sun Stadium

Fans queuing up for tickets at Desert Sun Stadium, Apr-2004.

The seating and the field, from the right-field bleachers.

A view from behind the plate.

Quick Facts: Rating: 3 baseballs
Desert Sun Stadium was built in 1969 as the spring training home of the San Diego Padres, who stayed there for a quarter-century before moving to a new facility in Peoria, near Phoenix, in 1994. The field is dedicated to former Padres owner Ray A. Kroc. The Yakult Swallows, a Japanese team that had a working arrangement with the Padres, also trained here for two decades.

Regular-season ball came to the park in the form of the Yuma Bullfrogs, who spent three seasons at Desert Sun Stadium in the mid-1990s before the league went belly-up. Since then, teams in several independent leagues have also called the ballpark home.

In 2004, the Edmonton Trappers, playing their last season north of the border before moving to Texas, were scheduled by the Pacific Coast League to open at home. With the weather too cold to play in Edmonton in early April, and with a lot of Canadian “snowbirds” calling Yuma their winter home, the Trappers arranged to play opening series against Sacramento and Fresno at Desert Sun Stadium. I got to see one of those, a 6-5, 10-inning victory over Sacramento that saw the visiting RiverCats leave 19 runners on base in the first nine innings. This was the second time a PCL team had used Desert Sun Stadium as a temporary home to open a season, following the 1988 Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

The park shows its age, but remains perfectly functional. It is large: 345 feet down the lines, 420 to dead center. The seating bowl contains molded stadium seats for the box seats below the cross aisle, and aluminum seats in the upper level, including some with backs behind the plate.

Desert Sun Stadium’s days as a baseball field might be coming to an end, however, as the Premier Development League, a semi-pro soccer league, may be taking over the facility, perhaps as early as 2016. They would convert the stadium and its training fields into soccer pitches.

Game # Date League Level Result
655 Fri 9-Apr-2004 Pacific Coast AAA EDMONTON 6, Sacramento 5, 10 inn
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