There are times when a visit to the ballpark should be a laid back experience. One would only need a ticket, someone to listen to, a bite to eat and place to watch the game. There is no need for fireworks or an overbearing array of announcements, but a game where the loudest clatter is from bat to ball to glove. Such is night at Banner Island Ballpark, home to the Single-A California League Stockton Ports.
The club has been calling Banner Island Ballpark home since the 2005 season and are third in attendance in the league with an average of 3,000 fans through 49 home dates. The ballpark itself sits on the outskirts of downtown and is adjacent to the Stockton Arena, which casts a menacing presence in left field. The park itself is spread out nicely, and one can enjoy the elusive walk around the ballpark. Needless to say, when you are from the Midwest, any walk in the California evening is more than an experience. GM Luke Reiff consents to the capacious feeling at the ballpark.
“Banner Island Ballpark is an extremely laid-back and relaxed social environment,” Reiff stated. “There is always a brisk breeze blowing in off the delta, and temperatures generally cool off at night to make for great baseball weather”
With most of the country sweltering through 100-degree heat, Stockton might be the perfect anecdote against the harsh summer we have been having. The right-field fence and general-admission lawn seating are adjacent to the McLeod Lake, setting up a canvas that paints cool breezes, sunset portraits and images of small sail ships. If one were to relax on the grass-lawn seating, they have the chance to not only watch the game, but people watch on the outside levee walk or bundle up with someone close.
Not to be outdone by its California League counterparts, the Ports offer an array of minor-league promotions that are anything but laid back: fireworks, local celebrity appearance, bobbleheads, jersey giveaways and musical tribute nights from the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Johnny Cash should spark local interest. Be that as it may, but give me a cool weekday night and a few more hours of daylight to enjoy the game at the stadium.
“There are two aspects of Banner Island Ballpark that appeal to fans immediately, and they work well together,” Reiff added. “First, is the location of the ballpark on the banks of the Stockton Deep Water Channel. Second, is the 360-degree walking concourse, which provides plenty of standing room for fans to enjoy the game from different vantage points and a spectacular view of the delta”
The way of life is a tad bit different in this part of California, and there is a ballpark that mirrors that experience; if one ever needs to find themselves or get away from it all — two heavily stated banalities of the English language — then perhaps a visit to Banner Island Ballpark is in order.
Marc Viquez is a contributing author for Ballpark Business (www.ballparkbiz.com). A fan of baseball for most of his life, Marc has been traveling around the country writing about minor league baseball since 2001 for various websites and print publications. When he is not searching down a ballpark, he can be found teaching middle school in Indianapolis, Indiana.