Spring Training Stadium Catalyzes Economic Growth in Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community


Since its inception 15 years ago, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick has become a monumental success as the first Major League Baseball Spring Training stadium on Tribal land. Transforming a former golf course into a 140-acre, $200 million economic powerhouse, SRF has firmly established itself as a cornerstone of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s rapidly expanding Entertainment District.

Named MLB’s most-attended Spring Training stadium in 2024, SRF attracts nearly 300,000 baseball fans annually. Beyond baseball, SRF hosts a year-round schedule of concerts and events at this award-winning facility, which boasts 12 grassy fields and a 10,000-seat stadium. Conveniently located between two major highways and minutes from Phoenix Sky Harbor and Scottsdale airports, SRF anchors a vibrant Entertainment District featuring eight new resorts, upscale gaming, high-profile attractions, a water park, and a medieval jousting arena.

In early 2009, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community proposed building a new Spring Training home for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. Despite economic challenges during the Great Recession, the Tribal Council’s vision led to securing the backing of both teams in July 2009. Construction began in November 2009, and the stadium, designed by HKS, was completed on February 26, 2011, opening to a sellout crowd of 12,514.

The debut season saw SRF shatter the all-time Major League Baseball Spring Training attendance record with 359,308 fans. SRF also earned the distinction of being the first-ever LEED Gold-certified sports venue for sustainable design. In 2023, SRF and the Cactus League contributed $65.3 million in economic impact, creating 905 jobs and generating $5.9 million in state and local taxes, according to ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business’ Seidman Research Institute.

SRF’s impact extends beyond Spring Training. The facility has hosted the World Baseball Classic, the Arizona Fall League, and major concerts by artists such as Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, and Miranda Lambert. Salt River Fields General Manager Dave Dunne, who has been with the facility since its inception, remarked, “We aimed to build the best spring training facility in Major League Baseball, and being named Spring Training Stadium of the Decade by Ballpark Digest validates that effort. Equally important to the Tribal Council was ensuring the facility’s year-round use. Events like the TACO FEST, Spooktacular Hot Air Balloon Festival, Arizona Barrels, Bottles & Brews, Yoga in the Outfield, Taste of AZ Food Festival, Enchant Christmas, and the Street Eats Food Truck Festival are past and present ways we’ve helped energized this wonderful facility and community.”

During this time, outside of Salt River Fields’ gates, the Talking Stick Entertainment District has evolved into a premier entertainment hub to complement the area’s offerings. Key attractions like OdySea Aquarium and Butterfly Wonderland opened in 2013, followed by Topgolf in 2016. The Great Wolf Lodge Arizona, featuring a massive indoor water park, debuted in 2019. The USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River opened in 2020, and Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament launched in 2021. Mavrix, a multifaceted entertainment venue, opened in 2022. In 2023, Arizona Boardwalk expanded by acquiring 48 additional acres for future development, underscoring the district’s continuous growth and appeal.

Malena Deer, Tourism Manager for Discover Salt River, highlighted SRF’s broader impact on local development. “We now have amazing businesses, resorts, and amenities at our doorstep, including a new elementary school, providing exciting new employment opportunities for our community.” Additionally, SRF’s surrounding business parks now host nearly 6,000 daily employees. Deer noted, “One of the best parts of hosting so many visitors from around the world is hearing their appreciation for our people and culture. Many returning guests love seeing all the new amenities and places to stay and enjoy right here around the stadium.”

Looking to the future, in 2026, the Talking Stick Entertainment District will welcome REVERB by Hard Rock Scottsdale, a $60 million music-themed hotel. This new development will feature 195 rooms, an outdoor pool, rooftop bar, and various entertainment spaces.

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