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Official Review by Ryan Norris, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Sacramento River Cats have been in Sacramento since 2000 and have played at Raley Field that entire time. The River Cats were affiliated with the nearby Oakland A’s for the first 15 years they were in Sacramento before switching affiliations to the San Francisco Giants in 2015. The River Cats have won four league titles and two class titles since 2000 and has won an impressive 11 division championships since 2000.
Long before the River Cats, Sacramento had a team by the name of the Solons who were members of the original Pacific Coast League in 1903. Sacramento is the only original charter-city that has a franchise in the current incarnation of the league.
Since opening, Raley Field has been a hit with the Sacramento community as well as the baseball community. The A’s, in their never-ending stadium saga, have long been rumored as candidates to move to Raley Field and expand the seating. There is little talk of this now as the Kings are actively building their new basketball arena in downtown and the city seems focused on Sacramento Republic FC’s bid for MLS.
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".
Raley Field offers more than adequate food and beverage options that should appeal to any fan. The staples are all available as are specialty items such as three different panini options, mac 'n' cheese and tostada salads. My recommendation is the Dinger Dog at $8. It's big enough to feed two people and is a quality dog, unlike most of the ballpark dogs you see at stadiums.
Raley Field has been at the forefront of strange food items such as their walkin' taco or their donut cheeseburger.
Craft beer is now available at Raley Field in the left field corner where they have options from all over but also include locals such as Rubicon and Knee Deep breweries. Extra points for the walk-in beer fridge. Customers walk in on one side, grab their selections, walk out and pay with the cashier. This is a great feature for those hot Sacramento days.
The old cliché, "There isn't a bad seat in the house" definitely applies to Raley Field. Built in 2000, fan comfort and viewing ease were at the top of the priority list. Sightlines are great from any seat and lawn seating allows for an inexpensive way to bring the whole family. Low sitting lawn chairs are permitted in the grassy berms.
The seating consists of two levels, with most of the upper deck designated as suite seating. The most striking feature at Raley Field is definitely the bright yellow Tower Bridge beyond right field. This bridge connects Raley Field and the rest of West Sacramento to Sacramento, across the river.
Former River Cats that have made MLB are mentioned throughout the stadium as are their team accomplishments over the years. With the Giants being so close to Sacramento, there are many mentions around the stadium of their parent club.
For the purposes of this section I will consider the immediate area around Raley Field in West Sacramento its neighborhood as well as Old Town and downtown Sacramento, just across the river. The immediate neighborhood in West Sacramento is a little strange with new condos going up alongside old trailer parks.
Nearby Raley Field in Sacramento, you'll find Broderick for burgers, sandwiches and specialty fries as well as Peace Cuisine for Chinese food.
If you're crossing the river into Sacramento proper try Foundation for dinner or River City Saloon for drinks. Mother is an award-winning vegetarian restaurant that carnivores are sure to like and Coin-Op Game Room is a sports/arcade. All of Sacramento is pretty easy to navigate via car so be sure to make it to Midtown if you're interested in some of the hipper lounges and restaurants. My favorites over there include Burgers & Brew, The Red Rabbit and LowBrau.
There are three breweries in West Sacramento: Yolo Brewing, Bike Dog Brewing and Jackrabbit Brewing. While I hear excellent things about Bike Dog, I can speak from experience that Device and Track 7 breweries in Sacramento are excellent choices as well if you don't mind venturing a little farther from the stadium.
Culturally, Sacramento has a lot to offer as well. You can go to the state capitol for a tour, check out the Crocker Art Museum or visit my favorite museum, the California State Railroad Museum.
The two closest hotels are the Rodeway Capitol Inn in West Sacramento and the Embassy Suites across the Tower Bridge.
Cats fans have always ranked in the upper echelon of attendance figures in the PCL. This is likely for a few reasons. First, with nearly a half-million people in the city and over two million in the metro area, there are a lot of people to draw from. Second, they have only been affiliated with local MLB teams, appealing to their population's fandom. Third, Sacramento has a reputation for passionate fan bases.
The fans at Raley Field come out, are engaged and are invested in the team's success. Thanks to long-term success, the River Cats have cultivated this relationship over their existence in Northern California.
Raley Field is extremely easy to get to via any of Sacramento's major freeways. If you're coming from one of Sacramento's suburbs to the west, you don't even after enter Sacramento if you don't want. It's also an easy drive or cab ride over the Tower Bridge from downtown so pre or postgame dinner or drinks are an easy and convenient option.
There is a bus stop right outside the stadium for multiple routes that connect Sacramento and West Sacramento. The Amtrak station is about a mile away as well.
Even on sellout days, access throughout the stadium is easy with wide concourses and multiple foot traffic routes. Lines for the restroom and concessions move quickly even with high density.
The get-in price is an excellent $10 for grass seating and you can make a trip to Raley Field as inexpensive as you would like.
Food can be on the expensive side for the specialty items but you tend to get what you pay for. Craft beer ranges from $7.75 to $8.75 for pints.
Tickets for seating behind the plate can get well above $50 which in my opinion is too much for a minor league experience, no matter how nice the stadium is otherwise. Therefore, this section would likely get four stars if not for the new development, FREE PARKING at Raley Field.
One extra has to go to the profound success the River Cats have had in their decade and a half in Sacramento. No other PCL team can claim that kind of dominance during that time.
One point extra for the ushers who wear Hawaiian shirts and straw hats as well as one point to the student-painted art around the stadium. Some of the art seems a bit outdated but it paints a picture of the time when the stadium was first opening.
Finally, another point to two great values: Free parking and the souvenir soda cup you can bring back to any game to get discounted refills.
Member Review by ryannorris
It would not be a stretch to say that the Triple-A affiliate for the Oakland Athletics has a much better ballpark than the boys in Oakland. Afterall, it's hard to say O.co Coliseum is a "ballpark" at all. Raley Field however has been charming fans since it hosted the first ever Sacramento River Cats game in 2000.
The A's became affiliated with the then Vancouver Canadiens in 1999, just prior to their move south to West Sacramento. They ended up just west of the beautiful Tower Bridge that connects to Old Town and downtown Sacramento. Vancouver has since established a new franchise, using the old Canadiens moniker.
Since it opened, Raley Field has turned into the buzzworthy destination for inland Northern California. Along with hosting the Pacific Coast League River Cats, they showcase summer concerts in a truly beautiful setting. Its convenience to downtown and state of the art facilities have allowed the field to supplant Arco Arena as the concert destination of choice. Arco is aging and miles outside of any substantial neighborhood.
In the 12 years the Cats have played in Sacramento they have won their division 10 times and the entire league four times. The consistent allure of playoff baseball and a top notch facility makes the club a market success.
Member Review by profan9 on Aug 26, 2013
And then there was one.
The inception of the Pacific Coast League brought baseball to the west coast. Of all of the cities that started out as charter members of the league, there is only one city that still has a franchise. The Sacramento River Cats represent Sacramento as the final original city in the Pacific Coast League with other cities like Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco having graduated to Major League Baseball.
Professional baseball in the California capital dates back to the Sacramento Salons all the way back to 1903. The Salons represented Sacramento on and off until 1976, when Sacramento went without baseball for a significant period of time. In 1999, fresh off of a Triple-A World Series Championship, the Vancouver Canadians were purchased by the late Art Savage and moved to California to become the River Cats. Since that time, the River Cats have been the premier franchise in all of Minor League Baseball. It seems that everything the River Cats have done, has been done perfectly.
Upon arriving in California, the River Cats have called Raley Field home. Located across the Sacramento River in West Sacramento, Raley Field was built with no public or tax dollars. It was financed by the River City Stadium Financing Authority with bonds that have been paid by baseball revenue and zero tax dollars. The stadium remains owned by River City Stadium Management LLC. The stadium naming rights were sold to local super market chain Raley’s.
The River Cats have enjoyed unprecedented success, earning 12 Division titles, 2 PCL titles and 2 Triple-A World Series titles. As the AAA affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, patrons have grown accustomed to seeing future major leaguers play at the highest level. As a result, in 2012 Forbes Magazine named the River Cats as the most valuable franchise in Minor League Baseball.
Member Review by rugbymatt on Aug 28, 2013
Raley Field is spacious and accommodating with numerous big ball park features. A great value made even better by a top team!
319 6th St
West Sacramento, CA 95605
829 Jefferson Blvd
West Sacramento, CA 95691
125 I St
Sacramento, CA 95814
10th and L Streets
Sacramento, CA 95814
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