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Official Review by Brian Merzbach, Guest Reviewer
Certainly most people who are visiting Maui are not there to take in a baseball game. But if you happen to find yourself there and in need of some nighttime entertainment after a day on the beach, taking in a ballgame at Maehara Stadium can make for a memorable experience. The ballpark is nothing fancy, but you will be treated to a lively atmosphere in a setting that is most definitely Hawaiian.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The variety of concessions is a bit limited at Maehara Stadium, but what they have is somewhat unique and of pretty good quality. The main stand, know as the "Snack Shack" is located directly behind home plate. As its name implies, they serve ballpark snacks, including Cracker Jacks, popcorn, and pretzels. Also, they offer Krispy Kreme donuts, something that you certainly don't see at most ballparks.
If you are looking for something more substantial, head to the stand on the third base side. Catered by the Kool Kat restaurant (which is home of the "Best Burger in Maui"), offerings here include pulled pork sandwiches, grilled hot dogs, burgers, and lunch plates (something definitely unique to Hawaii). The burger was good by ballpark standards, even if it wasn't the best I've ever had.
Concession prices are a bit on the high side as the burgers are $6 and the cheapest hot dog is $4. The only alcohol in the park is found in the beer garden down the left field line. Domestic pints are $5.
The atmosphere at Maehara Stadium is different than what you will experience at most minor league parks. If you are lucky enough to go to the first game of a series, you will get to see the visiting team given leis by Hawaiian children.
The ballpark doesn't offer the best seating as all the seats are metal benches without backs. Also, almost all views are blocked by netting, so sightlines aren't the best. There is a large VIP area down the left field line (near the beer garden) where tables and folding chairs were setup. Fans also have the option of bringing lawn chairs to watch the game from the beer garden.
The between inning contests were what you'd expect at a minor league game - race the mascot, sing for your supper, and the dizzy bat race. Na Koa Ikaika also have a mascot, Benz, who roamed the crowd quite a bit during the innings.
The best part of the atmosphere here has to be the on field DJ. Branscombe Richmond, a stuntman and actor now appearing in the new Hawaii Five-O, almost steals the show at times. While he's not there for every game, if you get to experience him, you are in for a treat. His impromptu sound effects and chants really add to the entertainment. His favorite saying to get the crowd going is, "Come on Maui, show your Aloha". When I think about Maehara Stadium, Branscombe Richmond is the first thing that comes to mind.
Maehara Stadium is located adjacent to War Memorial Stadium, a facility used for football. So the ballpark is pretty much just surrounded by a large parking lot. There are no restaurants or bars within walking distance of the ballpark. A commercial strip and mall are located about a mile away, both of which offer some restaurants to eat at before the game.
For a minor league ballpark, the fans were definitely into the game. There were some especially ardent fans who sat behind home plate and constantly harassed the opposing players. While a bit annoying at times, it did add to the character of the ballpark. It really seemed as if most fans in attendance were there to see the game, not just to eat or socialize. Maehara Stadium is certainly not a "hip" place to be, so it seems to attract true baseball fans.
Maehara Stadium is easy to find and there is plentiful parking, which is also free. With the large lot and small crowds, you will have no problem getting a parking spot within 100 yards of the ballpark. Bathroom facilities could best be described as adequate. There is one main bathroom for both men and women, and a couple of port-o-johns as well. Interestingly, if nature called during the game for a player, they would run up to the concourse between innings and use the portable toilets.
Tickets are a little pricey at $11, especially considering there are no real seats in the park. But this is Hawaii and things tend to be more expensive here, so overall I would say that the prices are average. Just the right to watch baseball in Hawaii on a summer night makes it worthwhile in my book!
The extraordinary views earns Maehara Stadium two extra points, one for the view from first base and the other for the view from third base.
If you sit on the first base side, you will get a great view of the West Maui Mountains. While they will likely be covered partially in clouds, it still is a great reminder of where you are while watching the game.
From the third base side, you will get a view of the ocean in the distance.
Unfortunately, because the days are so short in Hawaii, being able to take in the setting only lasts for a couple of innings before it gets dark.
While I can't recommend taking a trip to Maui just to take in a game at Maehara Stadium, it is definitely a worthwhile night out if you are vacationing in Hawaii. I was lucky enough to catch a couple games on my honeymoon, and they will certainly be experiences that I will not soon forget.
Brian Merzbach is a Guest Reviewer from BallparkReviews.com.
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