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Official Review by Kirsten Richards, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
First built in 1947 with a capacity of 3,000, the stadium for the Los Mochis Cańeros has been expanded and remodeled several times. The first expansion took place thirty years after the original opening, and the first night game under lights was played in 1963.
In 1972, the stadium was named Estadio Emilio Ibarra Almada, after one of the driving forces of professional baseball in Los Mochis.
The stadium was heavily damaged by Hurricane Paul in 1982, and was not fully repaired by the start of the season. The team’s first home games had to be played elsewhere and the stadium spent the season without lights – all games were played as day games.
Throughout the 2000’s, the stadium has been steadily upgraded to its current level as a comfortable and enjoyable place to watch baseball. The stadium is definitely one of the more comfortable in the league and the team brings a high level of professionalism to every aspect of fan engagement.
The Los Mochis Cańeros are named for the sugarcane growers of the region. They have been part of professional baseball on the Mexican Pacific coast since the third year of competition, when the league was known as the Liga de la Costa del Pacifico. They have been champions of the league for the 1968-69, 1983-84 and the 2002-03 seasons.
Fans in Los Mochis are friendly and happy to talk to strangers and it is not at all strange to shout a round of drinks for your neighbours in the stands. Overall you can expect a fun and fantastic experience.
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".
Outside food and drink are not permitted in the stadium and bags are cursorily searched on the way in.
Vendors for beer, for soda and for coffee make regular circuits past all of the seats. Tecate is the beer inside the stadium and you can either have it straight, or for the same price get a michelada (beer with lime juice and salt). It is about 25 pesos (about $2 US) for a beer and about 40 pesos for a café latte.
Churros, chicken, BBQ salchicha, all kinds of snack food, tostilocos and cevichurros are all available from vendors - though you may need to pay your vendor and wait for your food and change to make its way back to you from the originating food stand. This can be a little anxiety provoking for some, so I recommend ensuring you have a reasonable amount of small change on hand for this situation. Tips of around 10% to the vendor are expected.
If you've not had it before, papas with hot sauce is highly recommended. Cevichurros is for more advanced palates, consisting of bar snacks in cup full of clamato juice. Chocolate filled churros are OK, but the recommendation is definitely for the plain cinnamon and sugar style churros. Burgers and hot dogs are available, as are peanuts, popcorn, and candy floss.
Estadio Emilio Ibarra Almada is tucked under Parque de Pergola, a lookout partway up the Cerro de Memoria. The left field seats have a view back up to the Parque and to the radio towers on top of the hill.
Even in winter, Los Mochis is very warm. The first base side of the stadium gets the shade first, but evening games start late enough that the sun is not really a concern. It would be extremely unlucky to get rain during a home game at Los Mochis - they average well under 3 rain days per month during the season - but there is some shelter from rain under the shade structure at the back of the general seating.
Once through the gate, there is a nice forecourt area with a few food and drink options along with a very nice team shop.
Seating is comfortable and wide enough, and being a relatively small stadium, the pitch is also very comfortable. Palco seats (near the field and the dugouts) have plenty of elbow room and knee room. General and reserved seating is a little tighter. All seats are plastic.
Palco seating is practically in the dugout. Management, coaches and players are very visible from these seats. Security is employed to ensure that they are not overwhelmed by autograph seekers during the game, however many people have things signed and interact with players in the dugout prior to the start of the game. The home team takes the third base side.
General seating doesn't have the same level of access. However, the bands, vendors and mascots tend to focus their attention on the general seating areas, so depending on your needs, you may be better off sitting in that area.
As with many other stadiums in the LMP, there are separate entrances for the infield, outfield and bleacher seats. Moving around within the stadium is not encouraged, nor easy to do. However, everything except the bathrooms and team shirts in exactly the right size will come right to your seat, so there is also very little need to move around.
A final recommendation is to avoid the first couple of rows of the general seating area. There is so much vendor traffic during a game that the view from these seats is constantly interrupted.
The people from Los Mochis definitely make the experience here. At the game and in the city itself, people are friendly, helpful, thoughtful and know how to have fun.
The stadium is located between the University and municipal sports fields and Memorial Hill. There isn't very much to do in the immediate area and very little pre-game buzz near the stadium. The outside of the stadium is unwelcoming, consisting of a large gravel carpark and a blank wall.
The people in Los Mochis strongly recommend that you do not walk to or from a night game at the stadium. Taxis are plentiful, but not particularly cheap. While Los Mochis generally is very well served by a bus public transport system, there are no buses that go directly to or from the stadium.
Los Mochis is a smallish city and most of the attractions are within a 10 minute drive of the stadium.
Cerro de Memoria is the standout geographical feature of the town. Los Mochis is on a flat coastal plain and the hill that guards the entrance to the city is strikingly large. The Parque de Pergola provides a wide-open space from which to view the city and is the setting of a widely known ghost story. Further up the hill, facing away from the city are large, lit statues of the Virgin Mary and child. From either view, you can see Topolobambo, the nearby port town where you can eat great seafood and catch a ferry to either La Paz or Cabo San Lucas in Baja California del Sur.
Parque Sinaloa is in the centre of town and is a botanical garden, a park, a running trail and a historical site. Nearby is another historical church site and another cute small park, surrounded by street food vendors. The street food in Los Mochis is excellent and should be eaten as much as possible.
Los Mochis also has a large number of small festivals happening throughout the winter months. It is worth looking into the Los Mochis tourism websites to find what might be happening while you are there.
Los Mochis is also the destination train station of the Chihuahua-Pacific railway line 'El Chepe,' which crosses the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain ranges through the Copper Canyon. That train journey is regularly recommended as one of the 10 best in the world and is well worth doing.
The closest budget hotel to the stadium is a half-mile away and has a small, outdoor café attached. It is also walking distance to Walmart in the opposite direction to the stadium and is about a mile out of the downtown area. Staff are very friendly and very helpful.
Los Mochis also has a Best Western and a Plaza Inn closer to the centre of the city, along with a large number of posadas and other hotels.
Like all teams in the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico (LMP), Los Mochis is supported by very vocal and very loud fans. The stadium announcer leads a number of simple chants, but quite often the crowd will drop the chant in favour of loud, uncoordinated cheering.
It is not unusual, even at a midweek game to find a 7+ piece band in the stadium playing live between innings and batters. They are accompanied by 4 or 5 cheerleaders in uniform that dance in the stands, rather than on the field. They are often competing with fan drumming, the stadium announcer, and a large number of different cheers in various parts of the stadium for attention.
Overall it can be quite chaotic, but enormously fun and never boring. Though it can be a shock if the band sets up behind you without your knowledge.
Taxi or driving are the only recommended ways to get to the stadium. Parking is plentiful and free.
The stadium is not wheelchair friendly.
Bathrooms are a pleasant surprise, fairly clean, with toilet seats and toilet paper.
Even without the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd, this is one of the nicer and more welcoming stadiums in the LMP. Tickets, food and drink are relatively cheap for a really enjoyable fan experience.
The Cańeros' promotional push is excellent and they are highly visible throughout the Los Mochis.
One of the key things to note is that the blue bus stop signs are largely missing throughout Los Mochis - but never fear, there will be a Cańeros sign with the slogan "Tú eres parte del equipo" to let you know where the bus is likely to stop.
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Avenida Libertad 412 entre Angel Flores y Blvd. Lopez Mateos
Los Mochis, Sinaloa 81223