While few things can survive in the desert, single A baseball certainly seems to be succeeding. Pulling fans from nearby towns such as Victorville, Apple Valley, and Hesperia, the High Desert Mavericks have corralled quite a following in Adelanto, CA.
Probably one of the most surprising neighborhoods I've ever encounterd at any venue in sports, this stadium literally seems to spring up out of nowhere. In case you don't notice the 3,800+ seat stadium as you're driving through the desert, you may notice the 3 x 4 foot black sign with white paint that reads "Game Today" during your drive through the Mojave Desert.
The franchise was formerly located in Riverside, CA but relocated to Adelanto in 1991. Stater Brothers Stadium was built in 1991 at a cost of $6.5 million. Since opening its doors to High Desert fans, the team has claimed three California League championships.
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".
After not eating all day and witnessing some of the great cuisine choices at other California League venues, I eagerly passed through the gates in pursuit of some stadium food.
Unfortunately, upon my arrival, I found that my choices were nearly as limited as the vegetation in the area. The most unique options could be found at Skidmark's Roadside Grill on the third base side. Here, the sign offered eight choices in paninis at $6.50 each, however the first two I ordered were not available. So the third did prove to be the charm as they were in stock on the "Skidmark's Pride." Despite the interesting name, this "Panini" was nothing more than a spicy chicken breast cut up and placed between two pieces of sandwich bread. I must have appeared to be lactose intolerant because they omitted the cheese advertised on the menu. I also opted for the zucchini rounds, which I was quickly informed could only be offered in sticks on this day. I don't get too hung up on the shape of my fried vegetables, so I agreed to go with the sticks at $3.50. 20 minutes after paying at the cash only stand, I received my food. Unfortunately getting a side of ranch sauce proved challenging as well.
Fries, chicken tenders, and mozzarella sticks were other options here and hot dang, you could get a
whole pickle for $1.
Other options inside the park could be found at the "Classic Rock Consessions" included a hot dog at $2.50, burgers at $3, and chicken sandwiches at $3. Nachos, soft pretzels, cracker jacks, sunflower seeds, and peanuts ranged from $2.50-$3.
For those on the liquid diet, 16 oz sodas were $2.50 and you can double that size for just $1 more. Gatorade was providing electrolytes at $3 and a 20 oz iced tea or bottled water for $2.50.
For the scope of their operation, they did have a reasonable 20 oz beer selection for $5 apiece.
Budweiser products such as Michelob Amber Bock and Coors products such as Blue Moon were readily available. For those who like to level-up on their beer, the selection included Widmer, Sierra Nevada, and New Castle. The beer receiving the most clout was O'Douls, which even had a large advertisement on the home run fence. This was probably a great move considering that there is no public transportation in sight and most fans drive 10-20 miles away on any given night.
Lastly, your sweet-tooth alcohol choices included Bacardi Mojitos and Mike's Hard Lemonade for $4
My final piece of advice on the food and beverage here - bring cash. One stand did not accept credit
and two other stands that claimed to accept cards failed. Maybe people in the desert do like cousin
Eddie in Vegas Vacation and keep lots of cash buried in their yards?
Stater Brothers Stadium is not one that distracts fans with all sorts of bells and whistles for the fan that does not necessarily enjoy baseball. Rather than equipping the ballpark with inflatable games or face painting, it seems that everyone was there simply for baseball. The berm was filled with fans, so the younger fans had little else to do beyond watching the game.
I really loved the local feel of the stadium as well. On the concourse there were multiple vendors
peddling everything from chiropractic help to motor oil.
Mascot Wooly Bully seemed to make his rounds and was integral in getting all of the fans involved. He also participated in a variety of on-field promos including a rather interesting one where the
kids wore adult-sized baseball pants as they ran up and down the baseball field to complete the task.
The beer batter and In-N-Out double double batter of the game certainly spiced things up when the
respective players stepped to the plate.
The field was lower than the open concourse and aside from being behind the skyboxes, fans could get a view of the field from almost anywhere in the park. To add to the Maverick lore, make sure you stop by the pillars along the concourse and read the day rosters of each season the team has been in existence.
As previously mentioned, the stadium is literally located in the Mojave Desert. You won't find any
major metropolitan area within 10 minutes and your choices near the stadium are limited. Immediately
outside the stadium is Bravo Burger, which tries to be a "jack of all trades" and a gas station, which doesn't even stay open beyond the end of the game.
I had originally hoped to stop at the Cocky Bull, however it did not have a single vehicle in the parking lot before or after the game. I was particularly interested in this burger/hot dog hybrid that I had read about but I guess those huge calories will have to wait for another day.
About a mile down the street from the stadium, you'll find a Burger King, Rubio's, and truck-stop
restaurant, none of which were very appealing to me. I drove a few miles in the other direction
and eventually came across some other restaurants that I did not feel safe stepping foot inside.
A rather sizable cargo airport and lots and lots of sand round out the neighborhood. Ultimately I'd
recommend grabbing a bite before getting to the stadium and packing a few bottles of water for your
The fans at Stater Brothers Stadium made me disappointed that I had to make some of the earlier comments in this review. The Maverick fans filled the stadium to darn near capacity and many of them were waiting in line up to an hour in advance to get in the gates. Being that this stadium is short on glitz and glamour, the Mavericks really rely on the fans to set the team for the team on the field. The fans participate in a "pass the hat" tradition where fans donate money to provide additional incentive for their player to perform well.
As the skyboxes are nothing more than a slab of bricks with a door and some plastic chairs, even
the local high-rollers must be immersed in the game as there isn't much else to distract them.
A select group of fans even get some extra credit for parking beyond the home run fence and creating their own impromptu seating to watch the game!
The stadium is rather easy to reach via the 15 and it's unlikely that traffic will be much of a problem anywhere near the stadium. It is in the Mojave Desert, which is not an area that most of the population desires to travel through, but it is accessible nevertheless.
Parking is free and plentiful. Even the worst spots aren't more than a couple of hundred feet to the
The restrooms were rather spacious considering the size of the stadium. All restrooms are just a few
paces from the seating bowl.
With prices at $6 and $8 per ticket, I would assume that this is some of the best entertainment in the area for such a price. While I previously stated my lack of affection for the food, it was priced below most standards and parking was free!
When you go to the stadium, you know that you're going to get a great baseball experience without a
lot of extracurricular nonsense. So if you're an avid baseball fan, there's probably few better ways to spend $10 than visiting a Maverick's home game.
I do caution however, that if you've become accustomed to many of the perks of modern stadiums, it may be more challenging for you to warrant your time and money at this stadium.
If you want to throw out a first pitch, this might be the place for you. On this night, they had a ceremonial first pitch, a traditional first pitch, and an additional first pitch that I did not catch the name of.
The reverse side of the ticket stubs offer more than just a standard promo across the board. My
ticket stub offered a free round of bowling, but I noticed many others that had different promotions.
Score one for security. It appeared that each of the dugouts had a small surveillance camera on top.
While I cannot confirm that these were in fact security cameras, it could be a decent measure in preventing an obnoxious fan from ruining the fun for everyone.
Lastly, if you're a fan of offense, this is the place for you to see a game. The 3,000 foot elevation, arid desert climate, and 340 foot fences down the lines, the baseball seems to fly out of this park at a rather impressive rate.
While I believe there is quite a bit to improve on in Stater Bros Stadium, my concluding theme and hence atmosphere score stems from the idea that baseball is central in the High Desert. There is not a lot else in the form of entertainment in the area and the stadium itself does not offer a lot of distraction during the game, so those who attend are simply the die-hard baseball fans.
I've heard a variety of rumors swirling about the state of this franchise and if any of them are valid, it could better explain the quality of the field or the furniture surrounding it. Regardless, it is clear to me that the area has a solid fanbase and minor league baseball can survive these desert conditions.
Follow Drew on Twitter @Big10Drew
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