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Banner Island Ballpark

Stockton, CA

Home of the Stockton Ports

3.9

3.9

Banner Island Ballpark (map it)
404 W Fremont Street
Stockton, CA 95203


Stockton Ports website

Banner Island Ballpark website

Year Opened: 2005

Capacity: 5,000

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Baseball in Mudville

The Stockton Ports moved from Billy Hebert Field to Banner Island Ballpark in 2005. Billy Hebert Field served as the home to the Stockton professional baseball club from 1953 to 2005. Prior to 1953, the Stockton franchise played on that same land, then known as Oak Park Field. Billy Hebert Field still operates today, mostly for high school baseball games.

The Stockton Ballpark, affectionately referred to by locals as Banner Island Ballpark, sits on what no longer is an island in Stockton, CA. The inlets have mostly been filled in but the name lives on. As you can see, the name above the entrance says "Stockton Ballpark" even though "Banner Island Ballpark" is used by fans and the organization. This is because the city of Stockton owns the ballpark (and the adjacent Stockton Arena) and they presumably would like to sell the rights to the name at some point in the future.

The Ports moniker has been attached to the team for most of the last 80 years. The Stockton Flyers were charter members of the current California League in 1941 and changed their name to the Ports in 1946 to honor the city's presence as a prominent inland port city. They were known by the Ports until 2000 when their longtime affiliation with the Milwaukee Brewers ended and they spent a few years as the real-life Mudville Nine. In 2005, the Ports, having changed their name back a few years prior, began their affiliation with the Oakland Athletics, donned a new color scheme, and moved into their new home at the Stockton Ballpark.

Locals believe that Ernest Thayer’s, “Casey at the Bat” was written about the local nine. It was published in the San Francisco Examiner in 1888 under the pen name Phin, the same name Thayer used when writing for the Harvard Lampoon. The fictional team depicted in the poem was called the Mudville Nine and the people of Stockton believe this is a reference to the team that played on Banner Island, otherwise known as Mudville, during that time. Thayer too, supposedly covered the Stockton team in the late 1800s and due to the proximity to San Francisco the assumption that the "Mudville Nine" were based on his experience with the Stockton baseball team, has some bearing.

Controversy abounds about the real "Mudville" and other cities claim the "Nine" as their own. For what it's worth, Thayer himself said that the poem wasn't based on facts. This explanation doesn't alleviate the curiosity of many baseball fans, and perhaps that is for the best.

3.9

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

There are main concession stands that sell the typical hot dogs ($4) chili dogs ($5), nachos ($6) and soft drinks ($4, $5, $6). Snacks like sunflower seeds, candy, and peanuts run $3-4.

There are more specialty places like the Kinder's BBQ stand in left-centerfield, the Tecate Cantina serving margaritas, burritos and quesadillas, and carts offering asparagus, gelato, coffee and sausage. Stockton is known for being quite the asparagus hub as they have had, until 2014, the Asparagus Festival every summer that attracted people from all over Northern California. It has since been cancelled indefinitely due to the cost of running the event. If you're looking for something unique, I'd try the asparagus, deep-fried of course.

The craft beer selection is disappointing. There are 2 options, both bottled, and both expensive. At the Kinder's BBQ stand you'll find 12 ounce ($8) and 22 ounce ($11) bottles of Lagunitas IPA and Anchor Steam. You can find Blue Moon, Heineken and others on the back side of the Jackson Rancheria Back Porch.

Also at the Kinder's stand is a special happy hour promotion that runs from the gates opening to the start of the national anthem. Domestic drafts and well drinks, which are typically $6, are buy one get one free during that time. You can even mix and match and end up with a beer and a cocktail. The beer options are Coors Light or Miller Lite, while the "well" options are much nicer than the name suggests. Tanqueray was the gin, Stoli the vodka; not names I usually associate with the well.

Kids may enjoy the "volcano" drink which looks to be some sort of rainbow-colored slushie with fumes ("smoke") coming off the top of it.

Atmosphere    4

The ballpark was designed by HKS Architects and is beautiful. HKS is known for other Stadium Journey favorites such as Lucas Oil Stadium, AT&T Stadium , and Miller Park. The design lends itself to both intimacy and beauty. As you enter along the third base line you're immediately greeted by the field, my only experience of having my first vision upon entering be the green expanse.

Outside the park beyond the right field wall is a boardwalk that separates the stadium from an inlet of the San Joaquin Delta where optimistic fisherman test the waters with their casts. Because the ballpark is so close to the water it can get cold at times, even during the summer months. Though not always necessary, I recommend bringing a sweater for the latter innings.

The home dugout is on the first base side of the diamond and the sun also sets there first. Above the seating area on the first base side is the Comcast Club. It comes with catered food and your own bar.

Beyond the right field wall is the Jackson Rancheria Back Porch and the Metro PCS Home Run Hill. Beyond the left field wall are the bullpens for both teams and a few picnic tables. These seats aren't ideal when the sun is shining into your face but once the sun starts to set, you have a nice view of the seating area and the water tower beyond.

The sightlines are fantastic and you can certainly move around when the park isn't full. All seats have chairbacks, there is no bleacher seating. You can view the field from most of the concourse with the exception of the section near the Comcast Club.

The team store is on the left field side, near the Tecate Cantina.

Neighborhood    2

There are three main attractions in the immediate area: the ballpark, Stockton Arena and the University Plaza Waterfront hotel. If you're not going to one of those three places, there really isn't any reason to be down there.

The rest of the immediate neighborhood is made up of some businesses that shut down after hours, low-income residential areas and the city's civic center. I wouldn't say you ought to be nervous when walking around at night, but there isn't any reason to stick around after the game.

Just a few miles away is Stockton's Miracle Mile which is a stretch of Pacific Ave. It is a strip of shops and restaurants that are more suited to before or after food and drink. Weeknights and Saturdays are great times to visit but many of the spots are closed on Sundays.

Two great spots for craft beer are Abbey Trappist Pub and Valley Brew. Abbey has about six beers on tap and many, many more in bottles. Valley Brew no longer brews their own beer but does have an impressive 30 beers on tap, most of them from California. They also have a full menu that includes sandwiches, pizza, salads, etc.

Empresso Coffee House is a coffee shop in an old movie theater. They serve coffee, tea, beer, wine, and assorted pastries and small plates.

Other options on the Miracle Mile include La Palma Mexican Cuisine, Cocoro Sushi, Centrale Kitchen and AVE on the Mile.

Fans    4

The Stockton Ports benefit from their affiliation with the nearby Oakland A's. Green and gold shirts are always scattered amongst the red, white and blue in the stands. They loved their hometown hero Dallas Braden even before he pitched a memorable perfect game in May of 2010. Now their love affair with him is stronger than ever with images of the day in Oakland scattered around the ballpark. This love goes both ways as Braden is a staunch supporter of his hometown team and the A's affiliate.

The fanbase is a variety of A's fans, families, and just general baseball fans. They stick around and are engaged with the game.

Access    5

The ballpark is conveniently located in downtown Stockton right off of highway 5, a two minute drive from the freeway exit. There is a parking lot available for $5 but street parking is plentiful if you feel comfortable leaving your car out on the street.

There is one box office and it is adjacent to the main entrance to the ballpark. Once you enter, you look out onto the field from just left of home plate. The open concourse is great for catching the game as you make your way to concession stands or the restroom. They are plenty wide and you can pause for a few moments to catch some of the game without being ushered to your seat.

For public transportation, the 60 bus runs down West Fremont Street and the Stockton Amtrak station is about a mile and half from the ballpark.

Return on Investment    5

Most tickets run $8-11 ($9-12 on gameday) and offer great sightlines from just about anywhere. With reasonably priced food, cheap or free parking and drink specials you can take advantage of, California League action in Stockton is well-worth your dollar.

Extras    4

This is a pretty impressive place to watch a game. They have a way of keeping track of their former players by displaying images of their Stockton jerseys on the wall behind home plate after they make their parent club's roster

They have good places for groups such as the Comcast Club is along the first baseline, equipped with a buffet line and a bartender. The Jackson Rancheria Back Porch in right field has reclining chairs facing the field as well as their own bar and concession area.

There are batting cages adjacent to the Comcast Club where kids can take their hacks while parents watch the game. Also for the kids, is a bounce house and other blow-up toys beyond the Home Run Hill.

Final Thoughts

Stockton is a much-maligned city that has dealt with civic bankruptcy, gang-related crime and drugs. The housing bubble burst especially hard here and foreclosures have been common. As they make their way out of that rut, they can be proud of the two beautiful facilities on their waterfront that house two successful minor league franchises.

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Crowd Reviews

Banner Day

Total Score: 4.00

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 5
  • Neighborhood: 1
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 5

Banner Island Ballpark, the home of the Stockton Ports, is quite simply, one of the nicest minor league ballparks in the country - absolutely top-class from design to construction. The park opened in 2005 as part of a massive Downtown revitalization effort, and is buttressed by the main waterway into the region, the San Joaquin River. The name Banner Island is a bit of a misnomer as the physical site that the current park resides on was once in fact an island yet has since been attached to the "mainland" by infill. The name stuck.

To those unfamiliar with California's Central Valley, it would come as a surprise to know that the city of Stockton, located 85 miles inland from the Bay Area, is the state's 13th largest city. More surprising may be that Stockton is one of the Golden State's largest ports; a myriad of small rivers and waterways flow west from the Bay, allowing delta towns like Stockton to flourish.
I know what you're thinking right now. "Why the History-slash-Geography lesson, friend? I want a review of the Ballpark."

A completely fair and honest query, although I'm not sure I like your tone. The historical back story is key to understanding many of the aspects that make Banner Island Ballpark in Stockton such a must see for all stadium junkies and allow common questions to be answered .The most important of which being, "Why is the team that plays there called the Ports?" Now, you know.

Baseball in Stockton (and the California League in general) has a rich history. Locals maintain that this was the home of the Mudville Nine - the team that included the mythical Casey from "At Bat" fame. Although this can't be verified, the Ports organization has rightfully encouraged the claim. Throwback signage inside the ticket booth welcomes fans to Stockton, the Home of the Original Mudville Nine. The current team was even named the Mudville Nine for the 2000 and 2001 seasons before returning to the Ports moniker in '02.

The organization has been playing professional baseball here for nearly 150 years and won its first of 11 Cal League Pennants in 1888. The organization has been affiliated with multiple MLB teams throughout its history, notably the Orioles (1959-71), Brewers (1979-83, 1985-99) and, most recently, the Oakland Athletics (2005-present). The geographic proximity to the current parent club, coupled with the general gloriousness of the new ballpark, has sparked resurgence in attendance, as the Ports tend to pack the house most nights.

The coolest and initially most striking feature of the 5,000 seat, one level stadium is that, upon arrival through the front gates, ticket holders are immediately looking down towards the field, which is about 20 feet lower than ground level. Inside that 20 foot buffer are 5,000+ box seats which work their way from foul pole to foul pole, offering fans an intimate view of the action. The concourse works its way seamlessly around the entire field, allowing for one of the better strolls in minor league baseball. Peppered along this walkway are various eateries and vantage points that make sitting in your seat for the entire game downright foolish. Kids play catch and tag in the vast grassy hills behind centerfield, before moving on to take a turn in the batting cages, while mom and dad can sip high-end draughts from rocking chairs in right. The walkway heads towards leftfield and an intimate encounter with both bullpens, before working its way down the left-field line and back towards home. It is here that fans can enter the well-stocked team store or grab a delicious funnel cake to bring back to their seats.

Behind the home dugout lies the Comcast Club, as well as the four luxury suites. Inside the open air Comcast Club, fans can pay for the privilege of watching the game while enjoying spirits from the full-bar, as well as waitress service. Access to the Comcast Club is limited to fans 21 and over. Tickets for the club can be purchased at the main gate.

All in all, Banner Island Ballpark is everything that a fan could want from a minor league park. Unfortunately though, the surrounding areas leave a lot to be desired.

Hometown hero, former Stockton Port and current A's pitcher Dallas Braden (as well as Forbes magazine) will tell you that Stockton, Ca. is not the safest of places. The city consistently ranks as one of the nation's most dangerous cities. Don't be discouraged, the ballpark is quite safe. Police patrols and beefy security guards temper any attempts at in-park mischief. Quite honestly, "BIB" may be one of the safest places to visit if one finds himself in one of the most unsafe cities in the country.

The reason I mention this is that the one drawback of BIB may be the parking situation. As the field is surrounded by water on one side, and a residential neighborhood to the other, there is room for just one parking lot. The lot is small and fills up quickly and you don't want to be parking too far away from the stadium, unless perhaps you talked your good friend Chuck Norris into taking in a game with you.

It is recommended to get to the park early for a number of reasons: 1) you'll want to get into that lot, but you also want to get as far into it as possible. The lot is situated in prime foul-ball territory. Many a windshield and hood have been smashed or dented in the rows closest to the park. So many in fact that after foul balls leave the bat, the Ports P.A. Announcer accompanies them with a tongue in cheek announcement directing you to one of the team sponsors, an auto glass repair shop. 2) There is only one entrance to the park and the line can get real long, real quick, especially for Friday and Saturday games. The ticket crew is pretty solid but they can only work so fast.

The Fun Docks Here

Total Score: 3.86

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 4

"Then from 5,000 throats and more there rose a lusty yell;
It rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell;
It knocked upon the mountain and recoiled upon the flat,
For Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat."

The above excerpt from the poem "Casey At The Bat" by Ernest Thayer was published in the San Francisco Examiner in 1888 under the pen name Phin, the same name Thayer used when writing for the Harvard Lampoon. The fictional team depicted in the poem was called the Mudville Nine and the people of Stockton believe this is a reference to the team that played on Banner Island, otherwise known as Mudville, during that time. Thayer too, supposedly covered the Stockton team in the late 1800s and due to the proximity to San Francisco the assumption that the "Mudville Nine" were based on his experience with the Stockton baseball team, has some bearing.

Controversy abounds about the real "Mudville" and other cities claim the "Nine" as their own. For what it's worth, Thayer himself said that the poem wasn't based on facts. This explanation doesn't alleviate the curiosity of many baseball fans, and perhaps that is for the best.

The Stockton Ballpark, affectionately referred to by locals as Banner Island Ballpark, sits on what no longer is an island in Stockton, CA. The inlets have mostly been filled in but the name lives on. As you can see, the name above the entrance says "Stockton Ballpark" even though "Banner Island Ballpark" is used by fans and the organization. This is because the city of Stockton owns the ballpark (and the adjacent Stockton Arena) and they presumably would like to sell the rights to the name at some point in the future.

The Ports moniker has been attached to the team for most of the last 80 years. The Stockton Flyers were charter members of the current California League in 1941 and changed their name to the Ports in 1946 to honor the city's presence as an inland port city. They were known by the Ports until 2000 when their longtime affiliation with the Millwaukee Brewers ended and they spent a few years as the real-life Mudville Nine. In 2005, the Ports, having changed their name back a few years prior, began their affiliation with the Oakland Athletics, donned a new color scheme, and moved into their new home at the Stockton Ballpark.

The ballpark was designed by HKS Architects and is beautiful. HKS has other behemoths of feathers in their cap with Lucas Oil Stadium, Cowboys Stadium, and Miller Park. The design lends itself to both intimacy and beauty. As you enter along the third base line you're immediately greeted by the field, my only experience of having my first vision upon entering be the green expanse.

Outside the park beyond the right field wall is a boardwalk that separates the stadium from an inlet of the San Joaquin Delta where optimistic fisherman test the waters with their casts. Because the ballpark is so close to the water it can get pretty cold at night, even during the summer months. I recommend bringing a sweater for the latter innings.

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Local Food & Drink

Valley Brewing Co.  (map it!)

157 W Adams St

Stockton, CA 95204

(209) 464-2739

http://www.valleybrew.com

Empresso Coffee House  (map it!)

1825 Pacific Ave

Stockton, CA 95204

(209) 941-0072

http://www.empressocoffeehouse.com

Local Entertainment

Lodging

University Plaza Waterfront Hotel  (map it!)

110 W. Fremont Street

Stockton, CA 95202

(877) 957-2378

http://universityplazawaterfronthotel.com/

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