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Official Review by Ryan Norris, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Pittsburg Mettle are an independent baseball team unaffiliated with any MLB teams. The Mettle began play in 2014 as members of the Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs. All of the members of the Pacific Association are conveniently located in the north and northeast regions of the San Francisco Bay Area. The other member teams are the San Rafael Pacifics, Sonoma Stompers and Vallejo Admirals.
The Pittsburg Mettle play their home games at Field #1 at City Park in downtown Pittsburg. It is surrounded by other fields including a softball field and soccer fields.
After visiting and enjoying Albert Park in San Rafael, I was excited to see what another team from the Pacific Association had to offer. The experience at a Pittsburg Mettle game left a lot to be desired.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food at City Park is served from folding tables behind home plate. Here you will find all the concessions you would typically see at a Little League snack bar. You can chow on hot dogs, candy, soda and nachos with florescent cheese. All of these are sold at reasonable prices.
City Park Field also serves beer. You can choose between Budweiser products and nearby brewery E.J. Phair. I was excited to see E.J. Phair beer being sold at the ballpark but unfortunately the pleasant experience ended there.
There were two sizes of craft beer; a 12 ounce bottle for $5 and a 24 ounce bottle for $7. Unfortunately the bottle they were serving was actually 22 ounces. No big deal. Because the person at the concession stand was on the phone, I just pointed at the bottle I wanted. He reached in and grabbed a different beer entirely that wasn't even displayed. Again, not a big deal. It would actually have been my preference. Then the total came and he said, "eight." Seeing as how he was on the phone the entire time, negotiations were not going to go well so I handed him my $8 and he handed me the opened bottle and an empty cup. To recap: The sign said 24 ounces for $7. I paid for $8 for 22 ounces. I was handed an empty cup with my bottle. Do I fill it up myself? It doesn't fit. Can I just save the cup and drink from the bottle since I'm walking around with a glass bottle anyhow? Am I to chug a third of it so the other two-thirds will fit into the cup? We'll never know because he was on the phone and not taking questions at the time. For those scoring at home, I chugged a third and poured the remainder into the cup and headed to my seat.
The baseball field is in a city park surrounded by other playing fields and main city streets.
You enter almost directly behind home plate and seating is set up into two sections. The main grandstand is directly behind home plate with another set of bleacher seating going down the first base line. There is fencing surrounding the entirety of the seating area so there is no completely unobstructed view. All seating is bleacher seating.
The Mettle dugout is on the third base side and bullpens are beyond either dugout.
The PA announcer was loud and clear and helped the game go along. It was a little odd when he tried to use some sort of familiar nicknames of the players with the 30 fans in attendance. For me, it was kind of lame but as the game wore on, I ended up liking the announcer because he was informative and clear.
The scoreboard is in right field and provides the basics such as line score, balls and strikes and player at-bat.
Pittsburg, CA is a suburb about 40 miles northeast of San Francisco near the southwest base of the Sacramento River.
City Park is across the street from the city center and a few blocks from the main drag for bars and restaurants in town.
They have some good options for a meal before or after the game and have a lot of activities on Railroad Ave and Cumberland St. The night I was in town, there was a walking food tour to all the participating restaurants.
One option for food and beer is the aforementioned E.J. Phair Brewing Company. The Bay Area is a hotbed for craft beer and E.J. Phair is a good choice to check out as they don't have as much distribution as some of the players in the industry. They serve up their quality beers with a menu that includes pizza, sandwiches and salads.
All palates are covered in Pittsburg with other great options such as Steeltown Coffee & Tea, Lumpy's Diner and La Veranda Ristorante Italiano, which on this particular night had a line that stretched down the street.
There were approximately 30 people the night I attended and they just sat back and watched the game. There were just as many visiting fans for the Vallejo Admirals but that is in part because of their close proximity to one another. I heard one, "Let's go Mettle!"
It seemed that many of the fans in attendance were host families. These are families that host the players in their homes as many are from all over the country and have no way of affording rent on the salaries currently afforded for independent league baseball.
After-work hours can be tough getting around in the Bay Area. Pittsburg is no exception. Luckily, once you hit surface streets, getting around town is a breeze.
There is one small parking lot that is shared with the nearby fields so that was already full of parents picking up kids from soccer practice. I ended up parking on the street not too far from the entrance to the park. You can also park across the street at the civic center during ballgames.
Getting around the ballpark is easy with one entrance and two grandstands. Simply walk toward the entryway you wish to use to get to the seats. The playing field is not visible until you get to the front of the stands.
The restrooms are port-o-potties just beyond the snack bar. Another option is the public restrooms just outside the entrance to the field. Since your ticket is a wristband I don't see re-entry being an issue. It's a wash in terms of cleanliness between the two restroom options.
Tickets in the main grandstand are $8 while the tickets in the section on the first base line are $6. Concessions aren't overly priced but I don't see myself returning based on the game experience. If that picked up it would greatly improve because, with a trip to a local restaurant, a Pittsburg Mettle would definitely be worth the 40 minute drive. The quality on the field would be worth that.
There is currently no real identity between the city and the Mettle. They do have a nice touch by honoring host families on a banner behind the dugouts. There are a few bust statues outside the field near the restrooms. They are a little odd in that they are of former U.S. presidents with no ties to Pittsburg, the Bay Area or even California. They are also covered with old gum.
One of the things I like about these types of intimate venues is that you can sit close enough to hear the radio broadcasts. That is certainly an option here that I liked. Oddly, the Mettle broadcasters sit near the visiting dugout and the visiting broadcasters sit near the Mettle dugout. Regardless, both sets of broadcasters added to my experience.
The Pacific Association of Professional Baseball Clubs is an independent league that I really hope takes off a bit. The teams play in a portion of the Bay Area underserved by baseball and there is culture unique from other parts like San Francisco or Oakland. It is a unique region as wine country is so close and I feel like there could be a way to capitalize on that in the future. Based on my experience at two of the venues it seems that has done nicely in some places but not others. The experience at a Mettle game has plenty of potential to improve as all the infrastructure is in place and they are currently just in their infancy. I look forward to seeing how the Pittsburg franchise and the Pacific Association progress.
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300 Cumberland St
Pittsburg, CA 94565
444 Railroad Ave
Pittsburg, CA 94565
615 Railroad Ave
Pittsburg, CA 94565
785 Railroad Ave
Pittsburg, CA 94565
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