The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes have been affiliated with several MLB teams: Padres, Angels, and now the Dodgers. When they were affiliated with the Angels, Stadium Journey discovered a new species of dinosaur, finding the rumored "Rallysauras" in Rancho Cucamonga. The Angels organization created all sorts of Rally-inspired creatures to generate excitement at their games. In 2011, the team changed their affiliation to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Few would argue that there is a more unforgettable city name in all of baseball than Rancho Cucamonga. If you haven't already heard of the place, you may remember it as the setting of Ice Cube's movie "Next Friday" or when Michael Scott mentioned it as "the next stop" on his pretend train during an episode of "The Office."
The stadium known as the Epicenter is located off of Rochester Avenue in the Rancho Cucamonga's "Adult Sports Park." Now before you expect nudity, alcohol and fair game on the profanities at an "adult" place, keep in mind that this is a reference to the adult leagues on the three softball fields and two soccer fields in the park.
The stadium was opened in 1992 at a cost of around $20 million and has enjoyed a prosperous run ever since. Since its debut, the venue has snagged the record for single season attendance among the California League, has been purchased by an investment group that includes former Royal-great George Brett, and has had a renovation in 2008.
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".
I will lobby the Stadium Journey commissioner for a 6 out of 5 rating on this stadium. Never have I been to a stadium with so many choices that I've wanted to try at reasonable prices. The selection of this stadium trumps many, or most of the MLB stadium cuisine.
Starting at the right field side, there is Quake's Cantina. Here you'll find beef tacos, fish tacos, taco salad, nacho grande, Mexican corn on the cob, fried ice cream, and burritos, all for under $7 each. Clearly with a Mexican theme, you'll have a tough time choosing which one of these great Cantina selections to try. I decided to go with the Fish Tacos as it was such an unusual ballpark selection.
As you make your way through the concourse, you'll find some individual stands of Dippin' Dots, snow cones, cotton candy, and popcorn. I especially enjoyed the popcorn stand as it had ranch, peppercorn, and white cheddar seasoning salt.
Embedded in the grandstand, you'll find Aftershock Alley. With more of your typical foods, you'll find pizza, churros, pretzels with cheese, nachos, peanuts, cracker jacks, candy, all-beef hot dogs, and a pulled pork sandwich. Probably most impressive here is the Fritos Chili Pie. You can get many of these items in a value meal consisting of chips and a drink for $7.50 or less. Of course you can touch up any of your items at the fixins bar that offers all you can eat relish, onions, sauerkraut, and jalapenos.
The drink selection is a bit advanced with Coke products and some bonus selections such as Hot Chocolate, Powerade, and Monster Energy. The beer selection is well above average as well. Domestics are at $5.50 with the typical Budweiser products as well as Amber Bock, Bud Light Lime, and Shock Top. Premium beers are only a dollar more at $6.50 with selections such as Widmer, Longboard, and the local Hangar 24 Craft Brewery.
Next, you'll hit The Sweet Spot. Here you can get waffle cones, hot fudge sundaes, root beer floats, ice cream cookie sandwiches, a lemon chill, and probably the most enticing dessert - the funnel fries. Each item here runs approximately $5.
Finally your food pilgrimage reaches the Budweiser Hot Corner Grille, where you can get an all-beef foot long hot dog, angus burger, grilled chicken sandwich, veggie burger, Quakes black and bleu angus burger, and the famous item of the menu, Martin's Lousiana Sausage. Each of these items is $6.50.
If you're on a tight budget, you may want to attend a game on Friday, or Family Feast Night. During these evenings, hot dogs, sodas, and ice cream sandwiches are only $1.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that when you lead the league in attendance for every year of existence in the California League, that the Epicenter provides a great experience. The venue is typically rockin' for reasons other than earthquakes.
The team makes more of a show of the player introductions, something you would expect in the NBA. All players from the home team were introduced one by one to a song by Flo Rider. Never fear if you're not a hip-hop fan, the music selection touched on everything from Motley Crue to Trace Adkins' "Swing Batter" song.
I would love to experience a Monday night game when a Quakes' batter steps to the plate with the bases loaded. If the player hits a grand slam, a randomly selected fan will win $1,000 cash!
Probably the most impressive part of the atmosphere was created by the employees. I swear that I did not pass a single employee without being greeted. Fans arriving early were actually greeted by players at the gates signing autographs and taking photos. I must have passed the females working the games at least five times and was greeted every time. I attribute this to the simple courtesy of the employees. I am not that an attractive gentleman that would command so many greetings.
The atmosphere seems to be at its highest when the IN-N-OUT Double-Double batter of the game is at the plate. If the designated batter hits a double, all fans receive a free Double-Double (that's a double cheeseburger from a local IN-N-OUT restaurant when fans show their ticket stub).
The neighborhood is located where the Mohave Trail, Old Spanish Trail, Santa Fe Trail, El Camino Real, and the former Route 66 all meet. You will notice many of the old Route 66 markers throughout the streets.
The stadium is located in the Rancho Cucamonga Adult Sport Park, surrounded by three softball fields and two soccer fields. Just a few minutes away is most of your common fast food eateries, such as Chick-fil-A, Wahoo's Fish Tacos, Popeyes, and Buffalo Wild Wings. Just please do not plan on eating at Chick-fil-A on a Sunday.
I tried the local establishment known as Shakey's because it was just a few minutes away and still close to Highway 15. It was also convenient timing as the Sunday night baseball game was on and the place had some great views of the big screen televisions. The menu is focused on their pizza, but they do have some chicken and salad bar items available as well. Beyond just your normal pizza toppings, this place had some wild concoctions as well. Being the adventurous one, I tried the Mojo Supreme. Topped with Mojo potatoes, bacon, olives, jalapenos, green onions, cheddar/mozzarella blend, topped with sour cream and salsa. For about $17 before the beer tab, I had one heck of a pizza.
Not to be lost among the restaurants, are the San Gabriel mountains. While driving around Rancho Cucamonga, the beautiful mountains were seen towering over the city in your rear-view mirror. What the area lacks in restaurants, it certainly makes up in aesthetic beauty.
The Rancho Cucamonga fans are passionate. The team has led the California League in attendance for all 16 years that they were at the Epicenter. Even on a Sunday night, the Epicenter was drawing a good crowd.
You could tell that many of them had been part of the fan base since the early days, as some of them were sporting old team logos or colors.
While there was a lot of opposing fans at the game due to the rival Dodgers affiliate being in town, there did not seem to be a lot of badgering of the opposing fans.
Rancho Cucamonga is just under an hour away from downtown Los Angeles. The stadium is located just a few minutes off of both the 15 & 10 freeways, so residents from all over can access it rather easily.
I will say that there is a multitude of stoplights around the park, so be prepared to stop frequently.
Parking is plentiful for $4 a spot.
Fans can get a stamp for re-entry if they need to leave the stadium for any reason.
When visiting the Epicenter, you'll pay $4 for parking and have a variety of ticket prices to choose from. The least expensive tickets are $8 and the Field Box is $10. The Super Box, hugging the first few rows from first through third base will run about $12. If you have some friends and some extra money to spend, luxury suites are available in the realm of $500 to $600 an evening.
The Quakes really make affordable for all fans to shake, rattle, and roll at the Epicenter with several fun promotions to reduce your ticket expense. For example, you may notice "CA CRV" on many of your cans and bottles that signify a cash refund that you can receive at many local grocery stores for recycling it. If you bring 10 of your empty beverage containers on Tuesday night you'll receive one free ticket when you purchase one. If you've ever watched "The Bottle Deposit" episode on "Seinfeld," you know that this would be one promotion that Kramer and Newman would take advantage of!
Rarely do teams embrace their nickname or who they are these days. Just think of some of your favorite teams and how the stadium name relates to the franchise. The Quakes play at the Epicenter, which of course is not an irrelevant business and the name relates to the team. As you walk through the stadium, the nickname is constantly reinforced. My point is that I've never witnessed any franchise reinforce their theme more than the Rancho Cucamongo Quakes. Their mascots are named Tremor and Aftershock and wear jerseys 4.8 and 2.4 respectively. The tables on the right side of the stadium are referred to as "The Fault Zone." If you do a Google search for the team name, you'll literally get up to the minute information on the earthquakes that have recently struck there and the magnitude of each.
Offering a concourse behind the stands does have some negatives, but it also offers a shelter from the sun and a few moments to recollect yourself from all of the excitement.
If you're lucky enough to score the "Living Spaces Best Seats in the House," you're sure to have a much better experience. Cushioned seats with a great view along the first base line provide great comfort for the game.
You do not need a Stadium Journey review to know that the Quakes are one of the most reputable names in minor league baseball. If you do need my re-assurance to rent a car at LAX and make the drive to Rancho Cucamonga for a game, here it is. You'll find beautiful scenery and an atmosphere that is leaps and bounds beyond Single-A atmosphere, all at an affordable price.
As I've stated in the Extras portion, I applaud this organization for staying true to who they are. Despite being so successful over the years, the organization clearly has not taken their eye off the ball.
Follow Drew's Southern California stadium chronicles on Twitter by following Big10Drew or see more in-depth photos of this stadium visit on Facebook.
Great Place! I liked the sight lines, and the fans were great. The players were easily accessible for my kids to get autographs, which was a plus. The food wasn't great, but overall a good experience.
12455 Victoria Gardens Ln
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91739
8179 Spruce Ave
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730