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Official Review by Sean Rowland, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The first question that often comes to mind when hearing “Salem-Keizer Volcanoes” is why the hyphen? Volcanoes Stadium is in Keizer, Oregon, and the small city is really more of a suburb to the state capital of Salem (in fact, Keizer only became independent in 1982). After different iterations of baseball teams played in the Cherry City, the last would be the Dodgers, as they left to Yakima in 1990 when Salem’s community-college home was deemed inadequate. Baseball returned to the region seven years later, as the Bellingham franchise left for the new ballpark completed in Keizer. Under the affiliation wing of San Francisco, the Volcanoes have had quite a bit of success in the Northwest League, with five titles. Unfortunately, their home stadium does not stand up to the team’s on-field quality, as Volcanoes Stadium fails to deliver in several aspects, including a poor design, despite its relative young age.
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".
A rather typical menu for Minor League Baseball greets fans at the concession stands, and the standard items are fairly priced. A hot dog goes for $3, as do peanuts and soft pretzels. Specialty sausage and burgers can be found heading towards third base, with the "Volcanoes Burger" ($8) and their secret sauce especially promoted. Three concessions near the front entrance offer different types of cuisine (Mexican, Asian and Greek), but there is only an item or two within each genre. Dessert items, including ice cream, are plentiful. While the food does not offer anything unique to the area, the beer varieties provide a nice local flavor. Popular Deschutes is on tap, and so is hometown Gilgamesh and their increasingly popular Mamba. As for soda, Pepsi products include Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist.
To be blunt, this is an unattractive ballpark that is not a great place to take in a game. It feels and looks much older than a stadium built in the late '90s, and it is declining rapidly. Faded red seats now resemble a pink color, while the picnic tables along the left field line can offer a splinter or two. The design itself is odd, as well, with 8-9 rows of $20 home plate seating, backed by a large walkway that is essentially the concourse for the stadium. Behind this walkway is a two-story building that is topped by luxury suites and the Diamond Club, which those in the home plate section can use. In the middle of the building is the press box, where announcers are low enough that they likely have to look over the heads of fans as they walk by. Towards both first and third base is the rest of the seating design, and the field box single seats are split by the upper box aluminum bleachers. A significant amount of foul territory puts these seats a good distance from the diamond. The inclusion of the "Lava Lounge," a simple bar, does add a little to the stadium, and it is somewhat popular, while the grassy berm down the left field line and around the foul pole is not bad. With no roof or covering to speak of, the small Lounge is the lone place for protection from sun or rain.
Location does not suit Volcanoes Stadium well, either, as watching and listening to the traffic go by on I-5 is not quite the backdrop one is looking for. There certainly is a lot more that could be done with the Volcano theme, as the possibilities are endless. Along with some catchy names, the lone highlight is the small amount of smoke that comes out of the logo on top of the scoreboard after a home run. Speaking of the board, missing lightbulbs and a grainy video screen in right field add to the list of things needing an upgrade. While between inning contests are few, the amount of sound effects after each strike is endless, thus making it hard to tell if they are aiming towards baseball purists or families looking for entertainment.
Volcanoes Stadium is on the northeast edge of Keizer, and to get to the stadium, fans have to drive through Keizer Station. In this commercial development, expect to see big-box stores and chain restaurants that you have seen many times before. While not necessarily a bad thing, you will not get a local feel in Keizer. Sit-down places like Outback Steakhouse and Panera Bread can serve as a pre or post game meal, while one relatively new spot is unique to the area. Adobo Republic offers Filipino food and has received rave reviews from locals.
While visiting the area, be sure to check out all that Salem has to offer. It is an easy 10-15 minute drive to the south, and Oregon's third largest city has plenty to do inside a downtown full of historical buildings. The State Capitol is worth a tour, and visitors can go to the top of the building for a beautiful panoramic view. The nearby Willamette Heritage Center offers a full history of the area, which includes a great look back at the Mill that was so vital to the city.
The turnout for a Thursday evening game was not too bad, as about 1,000 to 1,500 were on hand. Many of those fans were enjoying $1 beer night, but they were also good in staying for much of the contest and making a little noise at warranted times. Salem-Keizer has a reputation in league circles as having a poor game-day atmosphere, but it was average at the game I attended. Season attendance values are not far from the league average; however, the lack of fans actually following the team is evident in the playoffs. During the championship series in 2008 and 2009, the Volcanoes averaged just 902 fans in their four home games.
While the location of I-5 is a hindrance inside the ballpark, it is an advantage for everybody driving to the game. Oregon's primary north-south interstate makes for easy access to Volcanoes Stadium, and fans need to follow a few signs to navigate through Keizer Station in order to reach the ballpark from the interstate exit. Plentiful paved parking is available right in front of the ballpark for $3, and for those looking to park free, the Target parking lot is within walking distance.
Despite the awkward concourse, bathrooms are easy to find and large enough to accommodate the crowd.
Likely considered a bit high for short-season, single-A ball, tickets are mostly $12-$14. There are aspects of this that are frustrating, the primary one being that Field Box seats are not for sale (based on the team's website and their on-site ticketing area). Perhaps they are reserved for season-ticket holders, but the whole thing is perplexing, given the amount of empty seats in those sections every night. Diamond Club seats behind home plate are $20, and the $14 chairbacks are limited, so you most likely will be stuck with a $12 uncomfortable bleacher. My suggestion is to purchase the $9 grass berm seats and move to an open section early in the game. Also, for some savings, there is a $2 discount if tickets are purchased before gameday. Given the Volcanoes Stadium experience, you are likely better served seeing a Northwest League game an hour north in Hillsboro or an hour south in Eugene.
During the game, waitresses stop by several sections of the ballpark to take orders for fans and bring them their food. Usually, this service is reserved for high-end, club seats, so it is a unique and nice touch to serve the rest of the stadium while they watch the game.
Volcanoes Stadium was the impetus for the return of baseball to Oregon's third largest metropolitan area during the late '90s. While the ballpark location in Keizer is not as great as Salem would be, it is a simple place to get to. Unfortunately, the stadium was not designed all that well, and the entire experience at a Volcanoes game is poor when compared to the rest of the Northwest League.
Member Review by Prince
Volcanoes Stadium, which is referred to as "The Crater," opened in 1997 and it's of the home to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of the Northwest League. They're the Single A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The team recently extended their player development contract with the Giants for two more years through 2012. The stadium is located conveniently off I-5 in Keizer, Oregon. The team uses nearby Salem, the capital of Oregon as part of its name in order to entice corporate sponsors to advertise with the team, hence the name Salem-Keizer.
Member Review by MarcV on Jul 09, 2013
I have to admit that I was not too excited about watching a game at Volcanoes Stadium. I first visited the stadium in 2009, and was not impressed with what I saw. Thank goodness first impressions can be misleading, since my second time at the ballpark was much better than expected. The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are members of the Single-A Northwest League and have called the cozy park home since 1997. The 4,252 seat stadium was privately funded for $3 million and was the first new baseball stadium built in the state since 1940. Since its inaugural campaign, the team has averaged 3,000 fans per game per season. Not too shabby for a ballpark I once snubbed my nose at.
Member Review by thatfoodguy on Jul 13, 2013
Having traveled the country, I have to say that this is one of my favorite minor league teams ball parks! Their employees are a delight and it is well worth the time and money. I was helped by a nice man named Thomas Weeks who made my family feel at home. One of the ushers named Mark was also helpful and we were pleased to see that the ball park hires people of all aptitudes. Loved the Volcano Burger and the $1 beer night! The ladies in the main concession also invited our son out that night and that was sweet. We would like him to come home now. Overall a success.
Member Review by 9InningKnowItAll on Oct 03, 2013
The location of Volcanoes Stadium is perfect. It is easy to get to and right next to a shopping area that includes restaurants and some great stores.
The stadium is beat up though and the jumbo tron / scoreboard only works some of the time.
Some of the food options are good but it can take 20 minutes to get a hot dog.
No real giveaways occur during the year for fans and there isn't much for activities in between innings.
6385 Ulali Dr
Keizer, OR 97303
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