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Official Review by Jason Bartel, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Built in 1998, Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium (formerly Tucson Electric Park) has played host to two AAA teams and is the former spring training home of the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks. It is now home to the San Diego Padres AAA affiliate, the Tucson Padres, who moved to Tucson in 2011 from Portland. The franchise was moved to Tucson due to ownership issues and a ballpark deal falling through in Escondido, CA. But 2013 will be the final year in Tucson as they will move to a brand new ballpark in Downtown El Paso in 2014.
Kino Stadium is also host to several concerts and music festivals a year, as well as the Pima Community College Aztec football team. It also played host to the University of Arizona football spring game in 2012 due to renovations being done to Arizona Stadium. FC Tucson, a member of the Premier Development League play matches at the complex. The entire Kino Sports Complex has 12 practice fields and 3 practice infields, which makes it a very popular place for local little league and soccer games. Nationally, Kino Stadium is probably most known for being the place where Randy Johnson hit a dove with a pitch during spring training for the Diamondbacks.
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 a T-Pads game has gone from being pretty good to just being ordinary. There are two main concession stands, one down each baseline, that offer the basic ballpark fare for prices that you would expect to see at a baseball stadium. One concession stand right behind home plate does offer "Beers from around the world" for those that prefer to pay more for their refreshments.
One thing that is very peculiar is there are three Mexican food stands, but they are all within 20 feet of each other along the first baseline. None of them are very good and are fairly expensive for what you get. The customer service at these three stands is also very poor compared to the regular concession stands.
The overall atmosphere at Kino has absolutely disappeared in 2013.
All home games for the T-Pads after April start at 7:05 PM, so the weather isn't generally an issue. Sometimes it can get a little windy because the field is sunken into the ground and the stands act as a sort of wind tunnel. So if you get cold because of wind, bring a light jacket or long sleeve shirt for the game.
The Padres dugout and bullpen are on the third base side, with the visitors on the first base side. Generally it's best to enter the stadium through the first base gates because they are closest to the best parking spots. And with the tiny crowds at most games, getting a good parking spot is not hard to do, but you don't want to park too close or you might just get a foul ball through the windshield. Getting around the stadium is very easy. The concourse is open to the field, so you can move around and not miss any game action.
The seats themselves are adequate, but not great, and they do not have cup holders. The outfield is open for the entire year as well, so you can just hang out on the grass and watch the game from out there; perhaps even heckle the outfielders a little bit. You can pretty much sit wherever you want. The ushers don't really keep people from moving from the general admission seating beyond the dugouts to closer to home plate, simply because there are tons of empty seats. The seats are right on the field, which is great for before the games if you are trying to get autographs or start a conversation with some of the players.
The crew in the sound effects department has gone a little too far with the amount of noise they play in between the action on the field. If there's an error on the opposing team, or a good play by a Padre, there's three or four sounds played, and it just gets annoying. Also, for foul balls that do leave the stadium, a local windshield repair place sponsors a glass shattering sound and their song plays after it which is sort of funny the first time. By the twentieth foul ball it gets under your skin though.
There are a couple of in-game entertainment activities, but not nearly as many as there used to be. My favorite, where two people race each other on inflatable horses, still exists which is the only good choice the promotions people made in the final year.
Kino is very isolated from the rest of Tucson. There is absolutely nothing in the immediate vicinity as far as pre- and postgame entertainment is concerned. A lone In-N-Out Burger at the corner of the I-10 and Ajo is the only thing worth going to.
If you're looking for something to do, I would recommend going to Downtown Tucson, and then getting on I-10 East until the Kino North/Ajo exit, which is where the stadium is. But outside of that, you won't find too much very close to the stadium.
No one goes to the lame duck Tucson Padres games for the most part, which is disappointing. But after the Sidewinders started failing before they moved to Nevada and became the Reno Aces, it's not surprising. This general manager is the same one who ran the Sidewinders into the ground. This group just can't seem to figure out what it takes to get Tucsonans interested in AAA baseball, especially after the Cactus League teams that were in the city have all moved up to the Phoenix area. And with how lackluster the experience is in the final year in 2013, it's going to be tough to prove that the city deserves another shot at a minor league team. What makes it even stranger is that the final season is the first and only year that Padres games will be broadcast on local radio, with AM 1290 doing every game of the 2013 season.
The fans that do show up try their best to get into the game though, despite the lack of buzz in the air. A Pacific Coast League team should be drawing more people than an average of around 2,000 like they are getting. The University of Arizona draws better at Hi Corbett Field than the Padres do.
Getting to Kino is fairly simple. It is located at the corner of I-10, Kino Way and Ajo Way, which are two major Tucson streets. Although most of Tucson isn't really close to I-10, there are several major streets and semi-highways that get most of the city close to the stadium in a short amount of time.
Once there, parking is free, there is a lot of it, and it is right next to the stadium. Getting around the stadium is very easy. The concourse is very wide and it is completely open to the playing field. Concession lines aren't a problem at most games, and neither are bathroom lines. Handicap access is also very easy. With the stadium built into the ground, the handicap areas are all along the concourse.
So the experience isn't great and there aren't a lot of people. But you are still seeing baseball that is just one tier below the Big Leagues. And if you do it right, Tucson Padres games can almost be completely free to attend. Parking is free, and you can either take advantage of a food or drink promotion, or bring in your own water and small snack.
There are special promotions for just about every day of the week.
Mondays are Family Four Pack days, where you get 4 tickets, 4 sodas and 4 hot dogs for $20.
Tuesdays are Eegee's days. Eegee's is a local Tucson sandwich chain, where if you go in on a Tuesday, you can pick up coupons that are good for two free general admission seats.
Wednesdays are $1 Hot Dog Days and Social Media Days. The Padres Facebook and Twitter accounts have special promotions for Wednesdays, and sometimes other days if there is no Wednesday home game that week, so make sure to always keep an eye out for those deals if you are planning to go to a T-Pads game.
Thursdays are Thirsty Thursdays. $1 sodas and 12 oz. domestic drafts from 6-9 PM.
Fridays are typically some sort of item giveaway.
Sundays are Military Appreciation Day where if you have a military ID, you and a guest get into the game for free. Sundays are also Bark in the Park Days, where you can bring your dog for free and sit on the outfield berm area or in the general admission seats. Sometimes these games even have a dog toy giveaway.
So, it is very affordable to do the Padres as long as you know what you are doing on a certain day of the week.
The only real extra is the ability to see some of the game's top prospects and rehabbing MLB players for a very low price in a fairly decent ballpark. The stadium itself is not rundown by any means; it's just that for the final year in Tucson, the ownership group has really thrown in the towel.
Member Review by MikeSchwartzer
Current residence of the Tucson Padres, Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium was built in 1998 for minor league baseball and spring training purposes. The Triple-A Tucson Sidewinders called Kino Stadium home from its opening until 2008, when they moved to Nevada as the Reno Aces.
Known originally as Tucson Electric Field from its opening until 2010, Kino Stadium has a capacity of 11,500, with 8,000 of those seats being stadium seating, and the rest being grass seating and standing room.
The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox shared this stadium for spring training from 1998 until 2008, when the White Sox left for Camelback Ranch in Glendale, AZ. The move by the White Sox led to the Diamondbacks and Rockies (Hi Corbett Field) leaving Tucson in 2010, leaving the Tucson Toros (Golden Baseball League) as the lone professional/semi-professional team in Southern Arizona. Baseball is not the only sport that resides in Kino Stadium; Pima Community College also plays their football games here.
Unfortunately for Kino Stadium and the city of Tucson, the Padres may not inhabit Kino Stadium for much longer, as there is a new stadium in the works for them in Escondido, California.
Member Review by JasonBartel on Apr 24, 2012
I love going to games here. There are so many food options, and the ticket prices are very cheap for AAA baseball. Since the team is so new, the people of Tucson aren't really totally behind them, and there aren't a lot of Padres fans in Tucson. Parking is free, but the stadium is a little out of the way for most people.
Member Review by JasonBartel on Jun 13, 2012
Built in 1998, Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium (formerly Tucson Electric Park) has played host to two AAA teams and is the former spring training home of the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks. It is now home to the San Diego Padres AAA affiliate Tucson Padres, who moved to Tucson in 2011 from Portland. Tucson was supposed to be just a temporary stop for the San Diego AAA team, but after ownership issues and a ballpark deal falling through in Escondido, they may be in Tucson for a little longer than expected.
Kino Stadium is also host to several concerts and music festivals a year, as well as the Pima Community College Aztec football team. It also played host to the University of Arizona football spring game in 2012 due to renovations being done to Arizona Stadium. The entire Kino Sports Complex has 12 practice fields and 3 practice infields, which makes it a very popular place for local little league and soccer games. Nationally, Kino Stadium is probably most known for being the place where Randy Johnson hit a dove with a pitch during spring training for the Diamondbacks.
Member Review by megminard on Oct 19, 2012
I had a good time here. I got bonus baseball with a double header; the visiting team was the Sky Sox (my home minor league team); there was a jersey give-away; and merchandise was 1/2 off.
Baseball in Aug in Tucson is hot. They have a mister on the concourse one can use to cool off.
The field was in good condition and there's a nice view of the Santa Catalina Mtns.
Local brews are on the first base side.
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