Interviewee: Blake Englert, Superintendent
Photos courtesy of the Peoria Sports Complex
1) Could you tell me a little bit about the history of the Peoria Sports Complex?
The first spring training game was played on March 2, 1994. Our two Major League clubs have always been the San Diego Padres and the Seattle Mariners. The City of Peoria owns and operates Peoria Sports Complex and the city’s nonprofit partner, the Peoria Diamond Club, helps operate spring training with a volunteer force and financial reconciliation services of revenue such as ticket and parking sales. In recent years, we have undertaken extensive renovations that have changed the face of the campus and brought many new assets for the community to enjoy during the events hosted here. One of the most exciting ones is our brand-new 3,300 square foot Colonnade, a spacious indoor air-conditioned event and meeting room with full catering and bar services as well as all the latest audio/visual amenities to make any private event such as weddings, reunions, anniversary parties and meetings complete.
2) From Spring Training to July 4, the Complex is used for a broad set of events. What are 3 or 4 of the most interesting events left in 2016?
We have three really interesting events coming up in the next few weeks. On September 24 is Fiesta Peoria, a celebration of Hispanic culture featuring live music, food and activities. On October 1 we are hosting Bites n’ Brews, a beer festival featuring a pairing of a great selection of craft beer sampling as well as food trucks of all types. On October 2, we are hosting the P83 Concert featuring Tyler Farr, one of the top country music performers currently on tour.
3) Serving the local community seems like a big part of your mission. In what ways do you strive to bring Peoria closer together?
Absolutely correct. On top of the large community festivals we host for July 4, Halloween and (most years) Easter, we work closely with Peoria Little Leagues and the Peoria Unified School District to provide opportunities to fundraise and use the facility. We also offer opportunities for local businesses to take advantage of the spring training and year-round event calendar here to publicize their own products and services. And, of course, the Peoria Diamond Club is also a huge part of these efforts as their goal is to fundraise revenue for charitable distribution to West Valley and Peoria youth service organizations and causes.
4) It probably depends on the event, but generally, what do customers enjoy most about their experiences at the Peoria Sports Complex?
That is nearly impossible to answer briefly not only because of your accurate assumption, but because we do offer so many enjoyable experiential features. During spring training, we are known for our army of smiling Peoria Diamond Club volunteers and their extraordinary friendliness. We’re also well-regarded for our diverse food selection, our envious stable of craft beer offerings, our fantastic group areas and we aim to keep our concession and ticket prices as the most affordable in the Cactus League. The rest of the year, I think people enjoy the diversity of events they can find here: food truck festivals, professional soccer games, car and RV sales, themed festivals, concerts, novelty street markets, the list goes on and on. And of course, we spend most weekends throughout the year hosting youth baseball tournaments. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the best-kept secret in the desert southwest, the MLB’s Arizona Fall League, where every October and November the premiere prospects – the next wave of big league stars – hone their skills in day games complemented with perfect weather and spacious room for every fan to take in a ballgame.
5) During the hotter parts of the year, how does the Complex counter the heat to ensure attendees have the best experience possible?
It depends on the event, but for example, the 4th of July festival features a dozen or so water slides for kids (and adults!) to beat the heat. Many other events are either in air-conditioned spaces or occur during evening hours. We also take into account the public’s safety and provide when appropriate Fire/Medical personnel to treat those who may need it.