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Official Review by Kirsten Richards, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Mazatlán is one of the most appealing tourist cities in Mexico. It has the longest continuous beachside boardwalk in Latin and South America, fantastic seafood, a pumping nightlife, the tallest natural lighthouse still in use anywhere in the world, beautiful old buildings, sport fishing, sailing, nearby islands to explore and a strong arts scene. It has everything an English-only speaking traveler could want, yet somehow it has not been overwhelmed with resorts and private beaches.
There are two major established tourist areas in Mazatlán – the old town and the Zona Dorada. The Estadio Teodoro Mariscal is right in the middle of these two areas. Estadio Teodoro Mariscal is home to the Venados de Mazatlán, of the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico. The Venados are named after the deer that are local to the area and immortalized in roadside sculpture.
The Venados were established in 1945 and have called Teodoro Mariscal their home since it opened in 1962. The team has been league champions eight times, and have hosted the Caribbean Series five times. Most recently, in 2005, not only were the Venados the champions of the LMP, they also hosted the Caribbean series and won it – the first time a Mexican team had won the Caribbean Series in Mexico. Knowing Mazatlan, I imagine the after-party was epic!
Estadio Teodoro Mariscal is basic, but a very enjoyable stadium experience. It is quieter and the crowd is a little less friendly than many of the other stadiums in the league – but it is still very loud and very friendly.
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".
Vendors bring everything to you in the stadiums of the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico. Multiple beer vendors set up station at the bottom of every seating section and are cheerful, friendly and provide icy-cold locally-brewed Pacifico beer and large plastic cups in which to drink it for about 20 pesos.
With such a strong tourist and expat presence, American-style ballpark food is prominent among the offerings at Teodoro Mariscal and is perfectly average. BBQ salchicha with huichol sauce is more interesting and more satisfying for approximately the same 60 peso price.
Also, rather more uniquely, you can get ceviche on a crispy cracker the size of your head at Teodoro Mariscal. That might be one to try after your stomach has adapted to Mexican street food, but it is absolutely delicious. It can also be quite messy if your neighbours in the stands are excited and jumping around a lot.
Giant donuts (again the size of your head) slathered in syrup, icing sugar and cinnamon are also available for about 30 pesos and are a challenge to share between two.
Teodoro Mariscal looks like a large concrete bunker from the outside. Once through the security and bag check at the gates, there is usually a small gauntlet of leafletters to get through before reaching the forecourt. The Venados sometimes run pitching games and similar in that area before the games and it is one of the few places in which you can buy food and drink directly from stalls. There is also a small and rather expensive team shop set up in a caravan in the forecourt.
Once inside the stadium itself, seating is easy to find and feels very close to the field. Palco seating at Teodoro Mariscal is at field level and while it is close enough to see players' nose hairs, it is actually surprisingly difficult to follow the action. I recommend sitting further back in the reserved seating, both for the view and for protection from the weather should you be unlucky enough to get rain. Row 6 and back is under shelter and seats closer to the field will get wet.
The plastic seats are pretty tightly packed, but comfortable enough. Juggling a beer, water, food and keeping track of a handbag is a challenge in the space available. The pitch of the seating area is very comfortable. The walkways and concourses are also surprisingly roomy for the size and age of the stadium.
The visiting team takes the third base dugout and the Venados take the first base dugout. The crowd and the players in the dugout have great line of sight and you can see the players responding (or not) to the crowd's cheering.
There are multiple TV cameras throughout the stadium and the kiss-cam runs frequently on the scoreboard between innings. The scoreboard showing of the crowd for kiss-cam or 'dance for us' feels uncomfortably long, but is standard at this length across the league.
The ballpark announcer leads simple chants and calls for noise. The Mazatlan crowd is not as immediately loud as other places in the LMP and needs a little more warm-up time, but they still make plenty of noise. Certainly much louder for much more of the time than similar-sized crowds for Minor League ball in the USA.
Fans are friendly and cheerful, even if you are supporting the other team. Friendly joking with your neighbours may earn you an invite to continue the party at another venue after the game. After the game, Joe's Oyster Bar in the Zona Dorado fills up with baseball fans celebrating or commiserating and the party runs until about 4am.
The Venados run ticket-price promotions nearly every home game throughout the season and tickets are easy to acquire at the gate.
The stadium is about 3km from the Zona Dorada and 5km from the old town. There is a very large shopping mall close to the stadium that houses the main Venados shop, which is only open during the season.
Old town has a beautiful old cathedral and plaza. The other main plaza in town is surrounded by excellent cafes and restaurants. This plaza also hosts a regular free open-air salsa night on Mondays and there is free or cheap entertainment here most nights over the winter season. This area is very popular with families and older tourists.
Just outside of old town on the beach in the Olas Altas area of town is El Fish Market restaurant, which is an excellent spot to watch the sun set over the bay while eating your own bodyweight in seafood. Just around the corner is the lighthouse which is open as a tourist attraction and includes a lot of information about the construction of the lighthouse and pictures of Mazatlan in the 1950's, when it consisted of only Olas Altas and old town. It is a very interesting and nice fitness challenge to race to the top.
The beachside boardwalk is the most enjoyable way to travel from Olas Altas north to the Zona Dorada. The boardwalk has a number of commemorative statues, street art, towers for cliff divers and regular access to the beach. At the right time and tide, you can acquire freshly caught oysters on the beach and eat them then and there with hot sauce, lime and salt provided by the fisherman.
Zona Dorado has another huge range of restaurants and lot of tall hotel buildings, nightclubs, bars and a couple of casinos. Joe's Oyster Bar is in this area of town and has a gorgeous view down the beach to the lighthouse 9km away.
Given the distance between likely accommodations and the ballpark, walking is not really recommended. There is no quick way from the ballpark to the beachside promenade, otherwise walking to the ballpark would be a highlight of the trip.
Catching a taxi will give you a chance to try out Mazatlan's "pulmonias," which are golf carts converted to taxis. They are a very common and popular way to get around and between the tourist areas of Mazatlan. No bus routes go directly past the stadium, but you can get close enough to walk easily. Mazatlan locals do not recommend walking back from the stadium at night.
Mazatlan fans are a little quieter than the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico average, but they know a lot about their team and their team's history. Players who have played for Mazatlan are proudly followed across different leagues and teams as their career progresses.
Fans of both teams are spread out throughout the stadium and joke with each other throughout the game. Cheering can be loud at weekend games, but is quieter through the week.
The baseball stadium is very much 'in-between'. It's not easily connected to anything else of interest and lies directly across from a swamp area. There is a small parking lot with a 50 pesos fee that is inadequate for the number of people who come to games and free parking can become quite haphazard on the streets and in the traffic islands.
The nearest airport to Estadio Teodoro Mariscal is the Mazatlan airport, which is about 20km outside the city.
The Mazatlan central bus station is reasonably close to the ballpark.
Taxi or pulmonia is the easiest and most common way to get to and from the game. Taxi fares are negotiated directly with the driver and it shouldn't cost you more than 50 pesos to get from the ballpark to the Zona Dorado.
The stadium itself is wheelchair accessible and has spaces for wheelchairs on the concourses.
The bathrooms are not fantastic. There is a 5 peso charge to use them (and get a wad of toilet paper) and it can be a challenge to find a stall with a toilet seat. The bathroom floor can also be very wet and slippery.
A Venados game at Estadio Teodoro Mariscal is a very enjoyable experience. There are constant ticket promotions, so tickets are cheap and readily available.
The noise level is substantially louder than a similar sized baseball crowd in the USA or Australia.
The Mexican food is delicious and comes direct to your seat. The beer is provided by cheerful and friendly faces and fans are friendly and chatty.
The Venados de Mazatlan tickets are a work of art - they are beautiful both as a whole ticket and as a keepsake ticket stub.
The hero-worshipping Venados-fan statues outside the park are a delight and great fun to photograph yourself with.
Mazatlan is a wonderful city in which to vacation, especially during the great weather in the winter baseball season.
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Camaron Sabalo #1504 -A Plaza Alameda
Mazatlan, Mexico 82110
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