Baseball has been played in San Jose at Municipal Stadium since 1942 when it was home to the San Jose Owls. Fast forward to 2011 with the San Jose Giants of the California League and not much of the reinforced concrete structure has changed. The entrance toward the seats reveals a narrow walkway, closely hugging the field of play and concessions stands sit behind old-timey steel bars.
An up-to-date lineup board is displayed right beyond the front entrance alongside current California League standings. This is on a dry-erase board and allows fans to understand the bigger picture of this minor league and familiarize themselves with the day's opponent.
The view of the outfield reveals a wall completely covered in advertisements. Municipal Stadium could be your one-stop shop for all your rental car and plumbing issues. High above these ads are the 11 proudly flying California League championship banners emblazoned with the standard "SJ" logo.
What's particularly pleasant about the baseball experience at this venue is the closeness of the seats to the action. You're spitting distance from the field no matter the price of your ticket.
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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".
All of your typical ballpark fare can be found in the walkway underneath the stands behind home plate. Here you can find hot dogs and cold drinks, soft pretzels and hard candy. Nachos, peanuts, ice cream and beer are also available for the standard ballpark rate. Five dollars will get you a hot dog or two churros. Choose wisely.
Along the third base side of the stadium are less traditional ballpark options. A barbecue place (Turkey Mike's BBQ) with amusement park style queues is set up to offer tri-tip sandwiches and burgers. Right next door are two different booths to purchase alcoholic mixed drinks, particularly popular on this hot day, starting at $8. Pint-sized pours of local craft brew are also available on this third base side promenade for $8.
Bringing food into the game is also an option if you choose to avoid the prices and lines. Picnic benches are available along each baseline for your enjoyment.
It was a beautiful Memorial Day, the perfect day for baseball. The atmosphere inside Municipal Stadium didn't live up to Mother Nature.
The Northern California rival and second-place Stockton Ports were in town to take on the first place and two-time defending California League champion San Jose Giants. Not only that, each of these teams are the class-A affiliates of the cross-bay rival Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants, respectively. Nobody seemed to care. There were points during the game that were completely silent, save for the occasional pound of the ball into the catcher's mitt.
Most of the noise was coming from the happenings beyond the stands behind home plate where many of the younger fans found solace in the bounce house and other activities. This area allowed for kids to have some supervised fun as the older crowd cheered (or didn't cheer) on their Giants.
All of this won't stop fans of baseball from enjoying themselves though. The closeness of the action, combined with the level of play makes the baseball experience quite enjoyable.
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 are out of town as well.
The Giants do share some sporting neighbors however. The San Jose Sharks practice one block away at Sharks Ice and the San Jose State Spartans play 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.
Though pretty tepid audibly, the fans were certainly engaged with the action on the field. Having the field so close to you does that. I'd say about 60 percent of the 4,200 seats were filled for the Northern Division clash.
Because of the low ticket prices and small nature of the facility there were many families there. Kids had plenty of room to move around, play catch and visit with friends which made for a fan-friendly environment. Perhaps the coolest opportunity for them happens when a pitcher warms up in the bullpen. Bullpens are right next to either side's bleachers, outside the field of play, and pitchers are within arm's reach of the fans. You can feel the breeze come by as the ball snaps into the catcher's mitt.
Perhaps passion for the San Jose Giants is a little mild because of the proximity of their big brothers in San Francisco only 50 miles north at AT&T Park.
Driving to Municipal Stadium is a breeze as exits from 280 and 101 are just a few blocks away. Parking is available from the Giants 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.
The walkway behind home plate can be pretty tight and hard to navigate and only has one restroom per gender. Additional portable toilets are available behind the stands on the first base side.
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.
Municipal Stadium offers a $10 ($7 for children) general admission ticket that allows you to sit in the bleachers down either baseline or in the straight back bleachers directly behind the box seats in the main grandstand behind home plate. You could literally be one row away from someone who paid $6 more.
With the average ballpark prices on concessions and the parking that doesn't completely gouge you, grab yourself a date and a couple churros and spend an afternoon with some class-A California League action!
There is plenty of San Jose and San Francisco Giant history around this ballpark to enjoy. San Jose Municipal Stadium has a deep history in the Bay Area and the people there are proud of it. Particularly cool are the old painted pennants from minor league franchises gone by, along the aforementioned walkway (Reno Padres or San Jose Bees anyone?)
All of the logos and insignias throughout the stadium are painted on rather than the usual cookie-cutter signs. Murals of former Giants are particularly pleasing on the eye as well as the San Francisco retired numbers outside the brand new team store. The aforementioned dry erase board standings and lineup display is my favorite "extra" and sits below the team's trophy case.
All of this historical value and fun activities for the younger fans makes this a very pleasant place to watch baseball.
Fans are great. Everything else is dirty.
1101 S 1st St
San Jose, CA 95110
1500 S 10th St
San Jose, CA 95112
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