While much of Southern California’s Inland Empire is often associated with extreme temperatures and desert-like conditions, Lake Elsinore offers a refreshing getaway. The city with the largest natural freshwater lake in Southern California is also home to a minor league franchise that quenches the local’s thirst for baseball.
The Storm play their home games at The Diamond, built in 1994 at a cost of $22 million. Upon arriving at The Diamond, you'll quickly notice the brick clock tower and tree-lined walkway.
As soon as fans walk through the main gate, they are greeted by a rather spectacular view. Straight ahead is a view of a sunken playing field (similar to Michigan Stadium) with the Elsinore Mountains in the background. A single concourse above all of the general seating allows spectators to grab a bite to eat without missing the action. The concourse is peppered with face painting, local business promotions, and food vendors. The home run fence has two sizable LED scoreboards and even an advertisement covered "Green Monster." This monster is located in right field rather than left, and like Fenway, has a hand-operated scoreboard at the bottom. The left field side has a much lower fence, but is a considerable distance at 425 feet.
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Just like many other minor league ballparks, the Storm offer many of the typical staples as well as a variety of unique concessions. If you're sticking to the simplistic hot dogs, a child can get one for $2 and the adult size runs at $4. Hamburgers & chicken sandwiches are on the menu, as well as a personal pan pizza ($7-$7.50 depending on if pepperoni is desired or not).
The snacks include nachos ($6), soft pretzel sticks ($5), churros ($4), popcorn ($3), peanuts ($4), cracker jacks ($4.50), chips ($2), apple slices ($3), animal crackers ($3), cookies ($5), and edamame ($5).
The Hot Dog Shack & Nacho Depot had the most intriguing options within the ballpark. There is a Texas-style Chili Dog ($7), the Chicago Dog ($7), a New York Dog ($7), and the Bacon Cheddar Dog ($8). Nachos are available with choices of hickory smoked BBQ chicken ($9.75) or marinated grilled steak ($10.75).
There seems to be some great dessert options at Lake Elsinore as well. Cookie ice cream sandwiches at $5, hot fudge ice cream bar ($5), strawberry shortcake bar ($4), mango fruit bar ($4), chocolate malt cup ($4).
The only branded vendor on-site is Baskin Robbins, offering many of the franchise's favorites. Soft serve ice cream in a cone or dish ($5, topping $1 extra each), layered sundaes ($6), double scoops of traditional ice cream ($5), as well as cookie sandwiches and monkey tails ($4) could be found on each side of the ballpark.
The beverage options include 20 oz sodas at $3.75, energy drinks at $4, bottled water for $2.75, coffee ($2), and hot chocolate ($3).
Smoothies are available in several places for $5, with flavors including mango, watermelon, and strawberry.
For the adults, $6 will land you a mass-produced beer such as Budweiser or Coors and $7 gets any one of the "premium" beers available on-site.
The stadium offers several food-related promotions including "Weenie Wednesday," "Wine Down Wednesday," and "Thirsty Thursday." The most compelling however might be the $14 ticket on "Fat Tuesday." This ticket not only admits you to entertaining Storm baseball, but also provides you with all-you-can-eat hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, nachos, and popcorn.
If the concessions do not seem enticing, try the Diamond Club before or during the game. This 5,000 square foot restaurant offers great views of Lake Elsinore, the Cleveland National Forest, and the ballpark.
There's a rather fun atmosphere to be found at The Diamond. There are children are playing down the right field side, fans are mingling in the concourse, and others are enjoying drinks or a meal at the Diamond Club. It seems that there is something for everyone and all are happy to be there.
Most seats are in a rather uniform seating bowl, with spacious fold-down seats and plenty of legroom. There doesn't appear to be a bad sightline in the house. The 11 luxury suites and press box are elevated far above the field, so much so that if you aren't looking, you may not notice them.
The Storm offer not one, but two daily mascots in the form of Thunder and Jackpot. Thunder the dog leads the way, being the self-proclaimed mascot of the year for seveal seasons. Not to be confused with the Philly Phanatic, he is a member of the "Canis Thunderus" family and has no problem getting the Storm fans on their feet to show their support. Next up is Jackpot, who is a bit more obscure during the game, hiding behind the right field scoreboard.
There is quite a bit of great natural scenery near The Diamond, including the Elsinore Mountains, and the lake itself. Any visitor is going to find some rather spectacular scenery in the neighborhood around The Diamond. The Elsinore Mountains are nearby and the Lake itself is just minutes from the stadium. The Cleveland National Forest is minutes away, containing some of the most beautiful views in Southern California.
Nearby restaurants include McDonalds, In-N-Out, Coco's, Vincenzo's Olive Tree, Don Jose, King Kabob, Del Taco, and Kokoro Japanese. Many of the locals will recommend Annie's Café, touting a great breakfast. I understand that a new visitor is to tell the server when it's a first visit to receive a special treat.
If time allows, all visitors should try the Lookout Roadhouse. While it is about 5 miles from the stadium, it is the spot that is truly Lake Elsinore. Off the Ortega Highway, it has a rather unbelievable view of the lake and surrounding mountains. It's a rather casual joint where you often can't distinguish the patrons from the employees. Their menu has some fun choices, but their claim to fame is the country breakfast and their ribs.
The area surrounding the park is rather barren and as a result makes for some great parachuting grounds. Into the 5th inning, you could see parachuters falling from the sky!
With such a beautiful stadium, fans are likely to be out in good showing nightly. While most fans are at The Diamond for baseball, it seems that the younger fans are having the time of their short lives. With a multitude of inflatable games, playground, and a berm that they could roll down, they probably don't even know baseball is being played.
There are fans that attend from the coast as well as visitors from Temecula, the Southern California wine country. Even with the many out of town fans, the Storm faithful are out in good numbers, cheering their team on until the final out.
Hats off to whomever developed the team logo because the fans really seem to respond to it. At no other minor league venue have I seen such a large percentage of fans sporting the team's gear.
Lake Elsinore is in a great location, central to both San Diego and Los Angeles. The stadium can be accessed via the 15 freeway or Route 74. Once fans have arrived in Lake Elsinore, simply follow Diamond Drive the whole way to the ballpark.
Parking may be a bit overpriced at $5 since there was plenty of dead space surrounding the stadium. The competition in nearby Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino charge only $4 in much more developed areas.
The stadium offers one of the most accessible layouts in all of baseball. The concourse is wide open, offering views of gameplay from nearly anywhere in the stadium. The fold-down seats are extremely spacious and comfortable, with seemingly not a bad sightline in the house.
The restrooms are large and spacious and rather easy to access from any seat. They are clearly marked by interesting characters that resemble Lego-people (Legoland is located in nearby Carlsbad, CA).
A variety of sources have mentioned Lake Elsinore as one of the better minor league experiences and it is easy to agree. With the most expensive tickets being at $15 and options as low as $11 for a bucket seat, its difficult to pass on such a value. Grass seating is another option at a mere $8, offering another way to save. If fans buy their tickets prior to gameday, they can save an extra $1 off admission.
If you opt for dinner at the Diamond Club, the fare is also reasonable, just what you'd expect at any sit-down chain restaurant. The Diamond appears to be one of those can't-miss investments that fans of all ages can enjoy. If you're in Southern California, be sure to map out a trip to Lake Elsinore.
Several items throughout the ballpark deserve mention. Some of them validate extra points while others not so much.
Starting with the exterior of the stadium, there is a beautiful tree-lined walkway up to the front gate. At one end is a sculpture of a pitcher and at the other is a sculpture of a batter. The pitcher has some vines growing at the base, but they haven't taken hold of the entire sculpture.
On the right field side is an extensive children's play area. Most minor league teams have a designated children's area, but this one is rather substantial. There is a nominal fee to utilize the play area, but that does not detract many of the fans from utilizing it.
Before the play area is a large berm where the children can frolic as they please. Most of the children utilize this area to cover their clothing with dried grass and put themselves in a dizzied state after rolling down the hill.
Once in the concourse of the right field side, fans will find one of the simplest items to add to their entertainment. A large painting of a baseball player catching a fly ball at the outfield wall with the face cut out. Fans can place their face in the hole for a fun photo opportunity.
Behind home plate fans will see a substantial banner known as "Stormin' The Big Leagues;" listing every former Storm player to appear in the major league.
On the left field side is the Diamond Club. Rarely do minor league venues have a nice restaurant on-site that is open to the general public. Offering air-conditioning, an extensive menu, and a great tap selection, it is certainly enticing for fans to stop by before or during the game.
Two additional things that should be noted are found along the outfield wall. Right field has an "Advertisement Monster," sharing the size of the Green Monster (it being in left field), only covered in advertisements. In right-center field, fans can spot the retired numbers of Jake Peavy (22) and Joe Urso (7).
Lastly, fans have to love the restroom signs at the ballpark. Both of the genders have a character that looks Lego-inspired in an awkward pose. Many fans were even trying to replicate the pose in front of the restrooms as a photo opportunity.
Lake Elsinore remains a favorite minor league ballpark for fans all over the map. It's a relatively simple drive from the larger cities of the coast and has the best alternative to the beach for many of the Inland Empire residents.
Where the venue really needs to improve is the surrounding neighborhood. There are several dirt lots and uninspiring food options surrounding the stadium. Improve this and fans from all over the region will be making this a usual outing.
Despite the neighborhood, the mascot interaction, the children's play area, and the Diamond Club restaurant makes this a win for all fans. This stadium is certainly a diamond in the rough.
Once you begin to drive inland in Southern California, there aren't many bodies of water to be found. Lake Elsinore is one of the few exceptions and not too far from this body of water is a minor league franchise that is quenching the thirst for baseball fans in the area.
The Storm play their home games at The Diamond, built in 1994 at a cost of $22 million. Upon arriving at The Diamond, you'll quickly notice the brick clock tower and tree-lined walkway. At one end of the walkway, you'll find a wire sculpture of a pitcher and one of a batter at the other end.
As soon as you walk through the gates, you are greeted by a rather spectacular view. Straight ahead you'll notice a sunken playing field (similar to Michigan Stadium) with the Elsinore Mountains in the background.
A single concourse above all of the general seating allows spectators to grab a bite to eat without missing the action. The concourse is peppered with face painting, book fairs (yes, book fairs), and food vendors. The home run fence has two sizable LED scoreboards and even an advertisement covered "Green Monster." This monster is located in right field rather than left, and like Fenway, has a hand-operated scoreboard at the bottom. The left field side has a much lower fence, but a considerable distance at 425 feet. I did have a nice chuckle when I was in the right field pavilion and got a glance at the area beyond the home run wall. It looked as if a nuclear war had occurred back there with all sorts of storage thrown in any open space available.
Been there over three times and still love it. The atmosphere is relaxed and there is surprisingly luxurious seating! Great place for families! There was an upscale restaurant with a view of the field as well.
32107 Ortega Hwy
Lake Elsinore, CA 92530
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