Though spring training was cut short due to the coronavirus, Camelback Ranch still got a look at how traffic in and out of the stadium has improved after a new road into the facility opened in February.
Glendale cut the ribbon on the extension of Ballpark Boulevard in February, which added a second traffic entrance into Camelback Ranch, the Glendale-owned spring training facility in Phoenix, home to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox. Though no official record was taken, Glendale’s traffic engineer said observations from stadium and city traffic staff were that the new roadway significantly sped up traffic into and out of spring training games.
“There was a significant reduction in delays on Camelback Road because of this new roadway and the options it provides,” said Traffic Engineer Debbie Albert in her report to the city’s transportation committee last month.
Camelback Ranch is the busiest spring training park in the West Valley, with an average crowd of 8,442 in 2019 and a maximum capacity of 13,000. Previously, Ballpark Boulevard, the only road to Camelback Ranch, extended north from Camelback Road and dead-ended at the end of the property. After the $10.2-million extension, the road now continues north where it connects with 99th Avenue and turns into Maryland Avenue.
In addition to helping with traffic in and out of the stadium, the road was meant to better connect the stadium with the rest of Glendale’s Sports and Entertainment District, that includes State Farm Stadium, Gila River Arena, Westgate Entertainment District, Tanger Outlets, Topgolf and Cabela’s.
Near the stadium, Ballpark Boulevard is a five-lane road — two lanes in each direction with a double left-turn lane in the center — but condenses into a three-lane road further north, with one lane in each direction and a double left-turn lane.
Ms. Albert said cars exiting the park is more of a traffic challenge than entering. Fans arrival times before games are more dispersed, she said, but after games far more fans are leaving all at the same time.
In the past, all stadium traffic went south to Camelback Road which would back up. Some traffic was forced to go west on Camelback Road, away from the Loop 101 on a detour that took about six miles to get back to Loop 101. Now, traffic from the center and northern entrance to the stadium’s main parking lot is forced to go north on the new section of Ballpark Boulevard and the southern entrance is given the option of going north or south.
After games, at the point where Ballpark Boulevard condenses to three lanes, traffic staff has opened the middle turn lane to traffic so two lanes can take cars away from the stadium.
“It really opened up a lot of opportunities for people to get out of the stadium much, much quicker,” Ms. Albert said.
There is also an overflow dirt lot south of the stadium that still exits only to Camelback Road, but now with fewer cars to compete with, as much of the other traffic has been diverted north.
As for day-to-day traffic on the new Ballpark Boulevard extension, Glendale collected traffic data right after the road opened in mid- to late-February — before the start of spring training games — and found that 1,500-2,100 vehicles used the road per day. Glendale expects development to occur soon on the vacant land around the new roadway, so when that development comes, the city expects traffic numbers will increase significantly. Ms. Albert said the city is waiting until traffic activity approaches the previous norms from before shutdowns from the coronavirus before doing another count on Ballpark Boulevard.
Ms. Albert said future plans for Ballpark Boulevard include improving the intersection of 99th Avenue and Ballpark Boulevard. Ballpark Boulevard becomes Maryland Avenue east of 99th Avenue. As part of the intersection improvement, Glendale will add two more lanes heading into the intersection so it can match the five-lane Maryland Avenue.
Spring training was cut short when Major League Baseball suspended all play on Friday, March 13. Camelback Ranch had 10 games left on its schedule. The stadium hosted 19 games before spring training was shut down and had one rain-out.