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Official Review by Ryan Norris, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Though San Jose Municipal Stadium is known for being the home of San Jose minor league baseball since 1942 (with exception of 1958-1964), it is also the home of San Jose State Spartan baseball. The Spartans play at Muni every game that doesn’t represent a conflict with the California League’s San Jose Giants. When conflicts arise the Spartans play across the street at Blethen Field.
Being the home field for the San Jose Giants, it certainly is Giants focused; the Spartans play second fiddle at Muni. There is not one piece Spartan acknowledgement on the grounds, making for an odd college baseball atmosphere. What makes college baseball great is the atmosphere and the history, it seems San Jose State plays in a yard too big, with no historical context for themselves.
Nonetheless the Spartans have been playing most of their games at Muni since 1970. The park holds 4,200 for Giants games, though they close off the bleacher sections beyond each baseline for San Jose State games.
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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".
One benefit of playing at Muni is the built-in concession stands and a crew to operate them. Though there are more extensive choices during Giants games, only one stand is open during Spartans games.
Dogs are available; hot ($4.25), chili ($5.25), and corn ($4.25) as well as polish sausages ($5), super nachos ($7.75) and an intriguing option called the pepperoni pizza sandwich ($4.50) as the mains. Snacks include: popcorn (small $2.50, large $4.50), peanuts ($4.50), pretzel ($3.25), potato chips ($1.50) and red vines ($3).
For drinks; sodas are $3.50 and bottled water $3. As Muni is not on a college campus, beer and wine aree available. The only beer option is Bud Light, at $7.
It seems that pricing is a bit high for a college game, probably because they play in a minor league stadium, so I'd recommend bringing in your own food as they're really isn't anything unique here. During Giants games you have many more options including craft beer and extensive BBQ stands.
I really love San Jose Muni as it is so quirky and plays up the fact that it has been around since 1942. However, there really isn't anything to tie the Spartans to the history the stadium projects, even though they've been a tenant for over 40 years.
The venue is far too big for this team, even as they welcomed a Northern California rival, Sacramento State. There were less than 200 people there on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
A positive is that with your game ticket you can sit anywhere there is an open seat. In fact, I suggest moving around throughout as there are lots of cool murals on the walls underneath the grandstand. Some depict famous San Francisco Giants, others depict painted pennants of California League teams gone by, while others are of famous quotes from the biggest names in baseball history. All of these are worthwhile to check out, though none of them make mention of the university down the road.
San Jose Municipal Stadium is located two miles southeast of downtown. The blocks between are largely residential and less than thrilling. Its immediate neighborhood is industrial with most workers punching their time cards during the weekdays. Weekends and holidays can be eerily quiet when the Giants and Spartans are out of town as well.
The Spartans do share some sporting neighbors however. The San Jose Sharks practice one block away at Sharks Ice and the San Jose State football team plays their home football games at Spartan Stadium just two blocks away. They also share the neighborhood with the animals at Happy Hollow Park & Zoo across Senter Road in Kelley Park.
Because of the largely industrial neighborhood there aren't many options for grabbing a bite or a drink nearby and then walking to the game. Stanley's Sports Bar is a good close option that provides both but is a largely Sharks crowd since it's attached to their practice facility. If however you plan on driving, downtown bars and restaurants are just a ten minute drive away.
It seems odd to me that with all the venues nearby that there wouldn't be more hustle and bustle in the area. Perhaps, most people come in just for the game or practice or eat/drink in downtown San Jose.
Though there were only about 200 people there, they certainly were there to watch baseball. It was much less a social event and more about the game. In fact, there was even a good showing from the visiting Hornets, no doubt because of proximity.
The fans, though few, got on the umpire and tried to pump up their team, especially the starting pitcher as he began to struggle.
Driving to Municipal Stadium is a breeze as exits from 280 and 101 are just a few blocks away. Parking is available at the stadium for $10 but street parking is also easy to find, in part because people working in the neighborhood aren't around on nights or weekends. I parked directly across the street (closer to the stadium than the parking lot is) with ease. Do be mindful that there is potential for foul balls to head that direction.
The walkway behind home plate can be pretty tight and hard to navigate if there were more patrons. There is no issue getting through the walkway for San Jose State games. The bathrooms, though there are only one set of each kind, are plenty big enough and clean.
Keep in mind the concession and seating areas as well as the Giants merchandise stands are all closed during Spartan games. This includes the children's play areas as well.
I can't give the stadium a higher score because of the lack of public transportation in the area. There is one city bus line that runs down Senter Road but if you live outside city limits in the expansive Bay Area, forget it. The nearest train station is a couple miles away.
Tickets are cheap ($5 for adults) and grant you a seat wherever available. This is nice as you get to move around and pick your favorite spot at a very reasonable price. The issue is the concession prices seem a bit high as well as the return on such a scaled down experience.
The one point is for all the cool murals and tokens of SJ Giants lore around the park. It seems that wherever they had a chance to, they acknowledged the 11 California League championships they have won. They put tokens of that feat between sections, under the grandstand, near the pressbox, and on flags beyond the fence near the scoreboard.
However there is nothing to even indicate that San Jose State's baseball team plays there. Upon further research I've discovered that the number 22 has been retired for former manager Gene Menges. I've also found out that Ken Caminiti and Randy Johnson are in the San Jose State Sports Hall of Fame.
I also found out that San Jose State went to the College World Series in 2000 and most recently were in the NCAA tournament in 2002. None of these team or individual achievements are acknowledged at San Jose Municipal Stadium.
My biggest issue was the lack of any ties to the San Jose State baseball team at Muni. After reviewing the schedule I determined that about three-quarters of their home games are played here and only one-quarter of them are played at nearby Blethen Field. I've yet to determine the experience there as an alternative and whether there are any of the "extras" that lack at Muni.
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