PEORIA, ARIZONA 19 Bridget Binsbacher, executive director of the volunteer organization, said the group raised enough money to donate more than $ 100,000 in grants to local charities after a well- attended season. Stay and play When the final strike is called, there are plenty of activities in the area to keep ballpark visitors busy. More than 30 restaurants, and an expansive shopping district with stores ranging from luxury auto dealers to well- known retailers, are near Bell Road and Loop 101. Visitors can choose from in- line or ice- skating at rinks close by. They can catch the latest new release at two movie theaters or watch a popular musical just down the road from the ballpark at Arizona Broadway Theatre. Finally, they can relax at any of the seven hotels in Peoria — five within one mile of the Sports Complex — which offer plenty of options with a total of about 700 rooms. One of the newest additions to Peoria's accommodations is Cibola Vista Resort and Spa. Located just five miles south of Lake Pleasant, this vacation-ownership resort has a complete equestrian program and a full- service spa. The luxury timeshare property recently completed the second phase of construction and a total of 480 units are expected upon completion. More than just a ballpark, the Peoria Sports Complex has become a catalyst for growth in the city and a showpiece of the community. ? A sports lovers' paradise F ans of professional sports will find plenty to like about Peoria. As well as being the home of the Cactus League's highest- attended MLB spring- training stadium, Peoria sits in the midst of one of the hottest destinations for professional sports. Whether it's football, hockey, auto racing or baseball, they can all be found in Peo-ria's backyard. Major sports venues nearby include the University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals ( NFL); Jobing. com Arena, home of the Phoenix Coyotes ( NHL), located in nearby Glendale; and Phoenix International Raceway, which hosts two annual NASCAR races and attracts thousands of race fans to the Valley. Just a short drive away in downtown Phoenix is US Airways Center, where the Phoenix Suns ( NBA) play, and Chase Field, where fans can catch the Arizona Diamondbacks ( MLB). " Not many places in the nation have five major sports represented," said Peoria resident Bridget Binsbacher, whose sports- loving family lives in Vistancia. " It's really unbelievable." But, as Binsbacher well knows in her position as executive director of the Peoria Diamond Club, which organizes more than 600 spring training volunteers, baseball is clearly king. Peoria kicked it all off with the opening of the award- winning Peoria Sports Com-plex in 1994, and soon there will be a total of five ballparks in the West Valley, making it easy to catch a game on a warm spring day. Just west of Peoria, Surprise Stadium has packed in baseball fans since opening in 2003, as the spring training home for the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. Peoria's neighbor, Glendale, is constructing a new baseball stadium where the Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago White Sox will begin spring training in 2009. A few miles southwest, Goodyear is building a new spring training home for the Cleve-land Indians and Cincinnati Reds. All more reasons for sports fans to feel lucky to live in Peoria. — Angela Rabago- Mussi ABOVE: Some have called it the 8th Wonder of World — University of Phoenix Stadium. LEFT: Located right next door is Jobing. com Arena, home to the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes. SPORTSMassageWerx Let A Massage Work for You! Licensed Professional & Experienced Massage Therapists Resort Quality Massage 75 minutes for only $ 39 Valid only with coupon at time of service. " Introductory Rate" Monday - Friday 8am - 8pm Saturday - Sunday 9am - 6pm 9191 W. Thunderbird Rd. Ste. 108 1/ 2 mile west of Loop 101 In Plaza Town Center 623- 974- 3511 www. massagewerx. com N Thunderbird Rd. Plaza Del Rio 91st Ave Prepay 5 60 Minute Massages Only $ 199 Valid only with coupon at time of service.
Anchored by gorgeous Lake Pleasant, Peoria is jam- packed with fun and enticing recreational activities and attractions RECREATION by ANDREA MARTOWITZ Get Out and Play 20 PEORIA, ARIZONA • www. visitpeoriaaz. com F ew cities in the Valley offer as rich a cocktail of recreational oppor-tunities and amenities as Peoria. Whether its biking or boating, hiking or rock- climbing, there's always an activ-ity waiting for you! On the water Peoria is the proud gateway to Lake Pleasant Regional Park, which hosts a 10,000- acre lake that's the area's " Jewel in the Desert." Go boating, hiking, picnicking, fishing, scuba diving, water skiing and camping. Familiarize yourself with the area's natural habitat at the Desert Outdoor Learning Center. Be sure to catch the park's special events, which include ranger- led day and nighttime lake tours by kayak or canoe. " It is beautiful watching the full moon reflect off the lake," said Ruth McCormick, the park's events coordi-nator. McCormick also recommended the Dam Good Run — a once- a- year opportunity to walk over Waddell Dam, the first Saturday in April — and the annual Campground Cookoff, the first Saturday in November. During summer months hunt scorpions after dark with black lights and watch them glow. " Kids love it," McCormick said. When you crave deluxe accommoda-tions, try Lake Pleasants' two private marinas. The new 5- star, state- of- the-art Scorpion Bay Marina and Yacht Club will have a floating restaurant, convenience store and deli, and live entertainment and " docktail" parties. Although the Pleasant Harbor Marina is private, it's open to the public for launching boats, fishing, hiking, picnick-ing, shopping and hooking up campers in its 5- star RV resort. Hike, bike and the like! Hiking and biking opportunities are always just around the corner at one of Peoria's 29 parks and recreational facili-ties, with 35 miles of easy to challenging interconnecting urban and scenic desert trails. For spectacular views try the new West Wing and Sunrise Mountain Trails. Feeder trails, on which you can walk, bike and rollerblade from neighbor-hoods to schools, commercial centers and the Park and Ride, also connect with the city's major park and mountain trail systems. These feeder trails are a welcome " green" solution for " people who are looking to save on fuel or trying to help the environment," said Kirk Haines, city of Peoria parks manager. After your trek, cool off with a dunk in one of Peoria's three public swimming pools, or relax under the soothing hands of a specialist at the luxurious Dolce Spa. Hone your climbing skills on the climbing wall at the award- winning Rio Vista Recreation Center inside Rio Vista Community Park. Maintain a healthy life-style while you enjoy the facility's indoor racket courts, gymnasiums, and exercise, TOP: Windsurfing on Lake Pleasant. ABOVE: Young skates practice at Polar Ice Peoria. RIGHT: Keeping cool at one of Peoria's three public swimming pools.