Phoenix Sports Guide

June 25, 2015

Phoenix Sports Guide

Phoenix is known for its sunshine, its open spaces, its gorgeous scenery — and its incredible sports scene.

The city has long ranked among the best sports towns in the United States for professional and youth sports.

Why is Phoenix such a fertile region for sports? Here are a few reasons:

  • The incredible weather — You can play outside year round.
  • The outstanding facilities — Pro, college, and youth athletes have many high-quality fields and courts to choose from.
  • The active population — People in Phoenix love to be outside, whether they’re running a race or hiking a trail.
  • The fun events — Beyond Phoenix’s four pro sports teams, the city also plays host to other awesome sporting events, such as NASCAR races and PGA Tour tournaments.

Of course, at AZ Family Dental, our interest in sports is twofold. We love cheering on local sports squads such as the Suns and the Coyotes, but as a Phoenix sports dentist, we also have a personal interest in the area’s youth sports programs. We supply custom-fitted mouth guards to many of the little athletes. We also treat sports-related dental injuries. Plus, we always love hearing about our patients’ latest soccer, baseball, or field hockey games!

Are you a sports lover too? Read on for the ultimate guide to Phoenix sports teams and Phoenix sports events, including a rundown on Phoenix sports complexes as well.

Phoenix Professional Sports Teams

We’ll start with the professionals.           

Phoenix is one of just 12 cities that has sports team from all four major professional sports leagues: the National Football League, the National Basketball League, the National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball.

As area fans will tell you, those squads have made a number of appearances in their league finals, but they’ve had only one title between them.

Still, they draw in a lot of fans, and the Phoenix area is not without champions. The Women’s National Basketball Association squad — the Phoenix Mercury — has become one of the best sports franchises in Phoenix, winning three titles since 1997. It’s the most successful of the many Phoenix women’s sports teams.

Here’s a sport-by-sport look at these professional squads:

  • Phoenix Basketball

The NBA’s Suns and the WNBA’s Mercury play in Phoenix.

Phoenix Suns

The Phoenix Suns compete in the Western Conference. The franchise was established in 1968, and it’s the only men’s professional team in Phoenix to use the Phoenix name rather than Arizona in its moniker. The Suns own the fourth-best winning percentage among all active NBA teams since 1968.

Phoenix Mercury

The Phoenix Mercury, the Suns’ WNBA sister squad, was founded in 1997. The Mercury were the first non-soccer professional squad in the United States to sport a logo on their jerseys, making a deal with Lifelock before the 2009 season.

The team’s most famous player is Diana Taurasi, a UConn guard who was selected with the first pick in the 2004 draft. Nine years later, the Mercury used the top pick to select another outstanding college player: Brittney Griner.

Where You Can See Them

Both the Sun and the Mercury play at the recently renamed Talking Stick Resort Arena, which had been known as the U.S. Airways Center.

  • Phoenix Football

There are two pro football teams playing in Phoenix.

Arizona Cardinals

The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals were founded in 1988, and the team is the oldest continuously run football squad in the country. It originated in Chicago but later moved to its current headquarters in Tempe, AZ, right outside of Phoenix.

The Cardinals won two NFL championships while based in Chicago, but they’ve never won a Super Bowl, despite playing in the 2009 game. The Cardinals have the NFL’s longest title drought, dating back nearly six decades.

Arizona Rattlers

The Rattlers play in the Arena Football League, where they have been a member since 1992. The squad is the third-longest-serving member of the AFL.

The Rattlers are arguably the most successful of the Phoenix pro sports teams, having won five Arena Bowls, including three from 2012 to 2014. The team holds a number of AFL records, including largest margin of victory in an Arena Bowl — 40 points in 2014 — and most wins in a season — 16 in 2011.

Where You Can See Them

The Cardinals play in the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, while the Rattlers play at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

  • Phoenix Baseball       

The Arizona Diamondbacks play in MLB, along with a host of local minor league teams. They also host a slew of pro baseball teams for spring training every year.     


The Arizona Diamondbacks are an expansion team that began play in 1998. The two best players in team history are outfielder Luis Gonzalez — who leads the team in career hits and home runs — and pitcher Randy Johnson — the career leader in strikeouts and wins. The Diamondbacks won a championship faster than any other expansion franchise in league history, just four seasons after they debuted.

Where You Can See Them

The Diamondbacks play at Chase Field.


The Arizona League, a rookie-level league that sits at the bottom of the MLB minor league structure, plays games in the Phoenix area. Arizona League games are played at the teams’ spring training complexes.

The teams in the Arizona League, which has been around since 1989, are:

  • Arizona League Angels, who play in Tempe, AZ
  • Arizona League Athletics, who play in Mesa, AZ
  • Arizona League Brewers, who play in Phoenix, AZ
  • Arizona League Cubs, who play in Mesa, AZ
  • Arizona League Diamondbacks, who play in Scottsdale, AZ
  • Arizona League Dodgers, who play in Glendale, AZ
  • Arizona League Giants, who play in Scottsdale, AZ
  • Arizona League Indians, who play in Goodyear, AZ
  • Arizona League Mariners, who play in Peoria, AZ
  • Arizona League Padres, who play in Peoria, AZ
  • Arizona League Rangers, who play in Surprise, AZ
  • Arizona League Reds, who play in Goodyear, AZ
  • Arizona League Royals, who play in Surprise, AZ
  • Arizona League White Sox, who play in Glendale, AZ

Spring Training

Every year, the Phoenix area plays host to the Cactus League, where Major League teams gather to throw off the dust from the offseason and play spring training games. This is a huge tourist attraction and a fun way for fans to interact with their favorite players, who frequently sign autographs after games and practices.

Each year the Cactus League draws more than 1.7 million fans to the games. The Chicago Cubs set a spring training record by drawing 222,415 fans in 2015.  

Here’s a list of the 15 squads that participate in the Cactus League, along with where they train:

  • Angels: Tempe, Tempe Diablo Stadium
  • Athletics: Mesa, Hohokam Stadium
  • Brewers: Phoenix, Maryvale Park
  • Cubs: Mesa, Cubs Park
  • Diamondbacks: Scottsdale, Salt River Fields
  • Dodgers: Glendale, Camelback Ranch
  • Giants: Scottsdale, Scottsdale Stadium
  • Indians: Goodyear, Goodyear Ballpark
  • Mariners: Peoria, Peoria Sports Complex
  • Padres: Peoria, Peoria Sports Complex
  • Rangers: Surprise, Surprise Stadium
  • Reds: Goodyear, Goodyear Ballpark
  • Rockies: Scottsdale, Salt River Fields
  • Royals: Surprise, Surprise Stadium
  • White Sox: Glendale, Camelback Ranch
  • Phoenix Ice Hockey  

The Arizona Coyotes play in the NHL and have been located in the Phoenix area since 1996. Previous to that, the team was in Winnipeg, where they were known as the Jets. Hockey great Wayne Gretzky, who holds the league’s career points record, once coached the Coyotes.

Up until 2014, the squad was known as the Phoenix Coyotes, but the name was changed to reflect the team’s regional appeal.

Where You Can See Them

The Coyotes play at Talking Stick Resort Arena, along with the Suns and the Mercury.

  • Phoenix Soccer

The Arizona United play in United Soccer League. The team has a short history, debuting in 2014. It took the place of Phoenix FC, another USL team that folded.

The United made the longest U.S. Cup run of any soccer teams in Phoenix or Arizona history in 2014, making it to the fourth round before losing 2-1 to Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy.

Where You Can See Them

The Arizona United play in Scottsdale Stadium.

Semi-Pro Phoenix Sport teams

Phoenix is also home to a number of semi-professional teams as well. These sports don’t draw the same crowds as the pro teams do, but the athletes are just as passionate about their sports. Plus, the price of attending games is much lower than for a pro event — or sometimes even free. That’s much more appealing to families, who are always looking for low-cost entertainment.

Here are three semi-pro teams worth checking out:

  • Phoenix Roller Derby

Talk about a sport where you want to wear a mouth guard! The Arizona Derby Dames, who compete in the Roller Derby Coalition of Leagues, are incredibly tough. They play banked-track roller derby, and they usually have one doubleheader each month, with four of the Dames’ five teams competing.

The Derby Dames were founded in 2005. Their league motto is “live fast, die pretty.”

Where You Can See Them

They play at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix.

  • Phoenix Women’s Football

Just as tough as the Derby Dames but with a ball instead of skates, the Arizona Assassins are Phoenix’s semi-pro women’s football squad. The team plays mostly against other women’s squads from California.

If you’re interested in playing for the Assassins, fill out the form on their homepage to get more information.

Where You Can See Them

            The Assassins play at Apache Junction High School in Apache Junction, AZ.

  • Phoenix Semi-Pro Basketball

The Arizona Scorpions play in the American Basketball Association. The expansion team began play in 2011, and the 2015 squad made the league playoffs.

The squad sponsors Jr. Scorpions teams for youth players.

Where You Can See Them

            The Scorpions play at Glendale Community College in Glendale, AZ.

Phoenix Sports Schedule

Not every sport in Phoenix has a presence here year-round. There are many Phoenix sporting events that happen only once a year. Here’s a look at a few dates on the Phoenix sports calendar you should not miss:

  • NASCAR Races

The Phoenix International Raceway hosts two NASCAR Sprint Cup races each year, usually in April and November. The latter race is part of the season-ending Chase for the Cup, making it a must-see for race fans. The track also hosts other NASCAR-affiliated races for the XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series, and it hosts an Indy Car race as well.

  • PGA Tour Events

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is held every year in late January or early February. Phoenix has the perfect climate to host golfers and golf fans alike in this early-season event.

Phoenix College Sports Teams and Events

College sports rank as one of the most popular draws in the Phoenix area as well. The Arizona State Sun Devils are located in nearby Tempe, AZ, and Sun Devil Stadium hosts many events, including ASU football games. In addition, Arizona State has a slew of teams that regularly make it to the NCAA tournament.

There are no University of Phoenix sports teams, but the university does own the naming rights to the stadium formerly known as Cardinals Stadium, where the Fiesta Bowl is played each year.

Phoenix Youth Sports Leagues

Youth sports in Phoenix remain hugely popular, and a wide variety of leagues are available through local recreation departments. There are also private Phoenix sports clubs that run travel teams, designed for higher-level players.

The City of Phoenix sports and recreation department offers leagues for:

  • Soccer
  • Tee ball
  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Basketball
  • Flag football

Most city of Phoenix sports offer youth programs and have instructional leagues for kids as young as 3 or 4, going all the way up to age 15. The leagues are divided by different areas of the city, and parents have the option of signing up for the location closest to them. Most sports are split between girls and boys when they get to elementary school. There are also volleyball teams in Phoenix for players ages 10 to 12, but none for younger kids.

For those who prefer a less-structured activity, there are tennis courts maintained by the rec department, as well as sports complexes located around the city for soccer, baseball, softball, and basketball games.

These complexes include:

  • Reach 11
  • Rose Mofford
  • Desert West
  • Papago
  • Encanto

Sports Leagues in Phoenix

Of course, many adults want to stay active just as much as kids. Adult sports leagues have popped up around the Phoenix area for just about any sport you can imagine.

The parks and recreation department sponsors Phoenix sports leagues for adults in:

  • Slow-pitch softball
  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Tennis
  • Dodgeball

Plus, both adults and kids can participate in the pickleball league. Pickleball — which combines tennis, ping pong, and racquetball — has seen interest levels soar in Phoenix.

Stay Safe While You Play

Whether you enjoy watching sports or playing them, the Phoenix area has lots of fun choices. Phoenix has a great reputation for women’s sports, with three pro or semi-pro teams, and it’s one of just a handful of cities across the country to offer all four major professional sports teams.

With its warm temperatures, Phoenix is perfect for playing outdoor sports such as soccer, baseball, softball, and more all year long. And the youth sports programs offer a great way for kids to stay active and healthy.

If you or your family plays sports, part of keeping healthy is looking after your teeth with a sports dentist in Phoenix. At AZ Family Dental, we can keep those teeth safe by fitting you for a custom mouth guard. You want to concentrate on dribbling or spiking the ball rather than maintaining your smile. Let us help you stay in the game —contact AZ Family Dental today!

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