The Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies play the final spring training game of the 2010 season at HoHoKam Stadium during the second inning Thursday, April 1, 2010, in Mesa, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Matt York

You’ve got to love living in the place everyone else wants to be.

This time of year, baseball fans and sun lovers are booking trips to Arizona, where picture-perfect weather, carpets of spring wildflowers and Cactus League baseball make everyone else jealous that we live here.

Fifteen major league baseball teams play in 10 Valley stadiums for the next four weeks, giving us ample chances to grab a hot dog and a beer with family or friends, take the kids to their first game, or just work on our suntans. It’s the greatest concentration of professional baseball facilities found anywhere in the United States, according to the Cactus League.

And if there was ever a year not to let what can seem commonplace pass you by, this is the one.

2013 is the last chance to watch the Chicago Cubs at Mesa’s Hohokam Stadium; next season, they’ll play in new digs at the old Riverview Park site at Dobson Road and Red Mountain Loop 202.

In turn, the Oakland A’s will move into Hohokam, vacating Phoenix Municipal Stadium, a simple but endearing park that hearkens back to the old days of baseball, before things got so big and expensive. Reminiscent of a Midwest minor league field, it’s the kind of place where you can get close to players.

And for the complete opposite experience, there are locals who haven’t yet taken in the still new-ish Salt River Fields, a beautiful, scaled-down version of big league monstro-stadiums.

A string of night games begins Tuesday, March 7, making it easier for working locals to live like the tourists. Day games abound, too.

For links to team schedules and a map of stadiums go to EVTnow.com/springtraining.

Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or azajac@evtrib.com

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