March 21, 2012

Take Metro Out to the Ball Game

by: Ryan Glass


Today’s post is by contributing writer Ryan Glass:

Spring is here, catch it while it lasts.  Seriously, if I was able to maintain my focus, I’d be outside right now, feverishly typing this post on my phone, just to enjoy the 8.42 days of really great spring weather we get.

Actually, if I was really slick, I’d be writing this on my way to one of my favorite spring activities, Cactus League Baseball.

(Confession, I am really slick. Hooray for productive train rides).

Normally I am not a fan of event-based transportation, of the teeming masses that only take the Light Rail from the Park-and-Ride to the arena to see a Suns game, and then complain about how crowded it is, while simultaneously saying how dead downtown is….makes me shake my fist in rage. Likewise, when I have a chat with folks about car-free living and they bring up “oh, I hope they extend the Light Rail out to Cardinal’s stadium”.  The idea of creating an enterprise of that scope just to shuttle people 10 times a year…no, I should really use this as an opportunity to clarify for them how good transit planning makes it easier to be car-free/car-light every day.  (Also, I presume my idea of tail-gating in the space between Light Rail cars is frowned upon.)

That said, I do readily admit that the ability to take the train to the Priest/Washington station and end up at a spring training game has greatly increased my attendance, and my overwhelming desire to not be cooped up in the office each afternoon.

Perks of taking the train next time you decide to ditch that 2pm “strategery think-tank session” your boss called and head out to the ball game:

  1. The ballpark is ~40 minutes from downtown, factoring in train ride, walking from Washington to Van Buren, and grabbing grabbing a slice of pizza/taco at the lunch places right next to the rail stop.  I’ll take that combo over the stress of finding a parking spot any day.
  2. The last thing I want to do after watching a game is waiting in queue in a parking lot for 25 minutes, then grumble to myself alone in my car about traffic.
  3. Less money spent on parking means more money for nachos. Yay!! We all have our vices.
  4. Train Driver is the world’s best DD. Not that you should go over-board at a baseball game, but between the sun and the beverages, it’s not the worst idea that maybe you let someone else do the driving.
  5. Just because the game’s over doesn’t mean the party needs to stop.  Avoid awkward “what do you want to do next” conversations in the parking lot, hop on board and just pick a random spot to hop-off.  It’s honestly one of the best ways to explore your own city.
  6. Because this AT&T Commerical can’t come true when you drive.

So maybe not everybody can steal away on a random afternoon and play hooky, but everyone should get out and enjoy some sunlight while it’s not trying to melt our faces off. Next time you do so, take my advice.  Heck, if I run into you, peanuts & cracker-jacks are on me.

Special recognition to Yvette Roeder for the idea. Her suggestion of taking the train out to the ball game for Buzzcation 2+ years ago started a new hobby of mine. Thanks!

Photo Credit: A Friday night on the Light Rail. Photo by Taz Loomans.

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4 Responses

  1. Danny Hoover says:

    Very good post, and while I agree with just about everything you said, I have a slightly different view on event riders. First, and this is selfish, I love a crowded train. There is something very cosmpolitan about boarding a standing room only car and riding downtown. Second, if just a small percentage of event only riders see the advantages of public transportation, it could quickly add up to more repeat trips to non-event activities. Even if the train isn’t convenient in every day life for these event riders, as I fear it isn’t, it might change their perception of riding the bus. I am always glad to see people on the train, whatever their reason might be.

  2. Will Novak says:

    You mentioning how dead Downtown is, even after busy game nights, reminded me of a thought:

    Why is the PHX police and traffic doing everything it can to ease people’s exits from Downtown after games? They block off streets and make things a horrible pain for Downtown residents, while also hurting Downtown business by whisking people away.

    If you foolishly decide to drive to Chase or USAC, you ought to have to work your own way out of Downtown. If that means going from the game to Majerle’s for a round of chicken wings while you wait for traffic to die down, all the better!

  3. Will Novak says:

    Also light rail absolutely SHOULD go out to the Cardinals Stadium/Westgate area. Remember its not just Cardinals games there, its also 40+ Coyotes games a year, concerts, movies, shopping, etc.

    Now should the route be down the I-10 and then up the 101? No, that would be moronic. But running LRT down Glendale Ave. makes all the sense in the world. Downtown Glendale needs to be connected to the LRT system and the area between Downtown Glendale & Westgate has tons of redevelopment potential. That stretch could eventually be the West Valley’s answer to the Camelback Corridor (though not as high end).

    Not connecting the Westgate area to the LRT system hurts the Valley’s chances at hosting future Super Bowls, Final Fours, NHL All Star Games, & any chance at mega events like the Pan Am Games or Olympics.

  4. Danny Hoover says:

    I agree that Westgate/ Stadium should be connected to rail service. Another possible scenario might be to run commuter rail service along Grand Avenue, using existing tracks, and then running either a Street Car like Tempe is looking at, or LR along Glendale from 59th Avenue to Westgate. This might reduce long commute times from downtown Phoenix to Westgate that I would expect LR would have.

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