Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Banner Island Ballpark
404 W Fremont St.
Stockton, CA 95203
Year Opened: 2004 Capacity: 5,000
The Stockton Ballpark, affectionately referred to by locals as Banner Island Ballpark, sits on what no longer is an island in Stockton, CA. The inlets have mostly been filled in but the name lives on.
The Stockton Ports (Single-A affiliate of Oakland Athletics of the California League) make their home at this ballpark. They were the Brewers affiliate for much of the 80’s and 90’s. Oakland, CA is closer and fans seem to appreciate that more.
The team lays claim as a possible inspiration for “Casey at the Bat,” a famous baseball poem by Ernest Thayer published in 1888. The fictional team depicted in the poem was called the Mudville Nine and the people of Stockton believe this is a reference to the team that played on Banner Island, otherwise known as Mudville, during that time. Controversy abounds about the real “Mudville” and other cities also claim the “Nine” as their own.
Food & Beverage 4
Banner Island Ballpark has plenty of food offerings around the concourse with the concession stands each offering a slightly different main entrée.
Corona Cabana provides the Mexican choices, Third Base Express has turkey, hot dogs and sausages, Home Plate Grill sells a variety of fries along with traditional snacks, Casey’s Corner has burgers, fries, nachos, Woodbridge Café offers up some healthier options of salads and wraps and fruit. All stands have peanuts, seeds, candy, and chips. The calorie count of items is listed on the concession menus. Prices run from $5 to $9 for ‘meals’ and $3 to $6 for snacks.
Pepsi products and bottled water are the soft drinks offered ($4 – $7).
Domestic and craft beer, as well as wine, are sold at all concession stands ($9 – $11). A good variety of craft beer is available with most brews from California. The Main Gate Micro Brew near section 108 is a good place to get the craft beers on tap.
Banner Island Ballpark is a delightful venue in which to watch minor league baseball. It provides the perfect game day experience with good baseball, affordable entertainment, easy access, and a staff who is extremely friendly and good spirited.
One level of 16 or so rows of standard green fold down stadium seats with cup holders is the main level. The third base side (above the home dugout) and behind home plate have a few sections for “premiere seating.” There’s plenty of leg room to stretch out. Nets run to the end of the dug out; the field level baseline outfield is net free as is any outfield seating (berm, party deck, etc.).
The right field berm features the Jackson Rancheria Back Porch which can be rented out for 25 – 50 people, tickets start at $30 and include food. A kid’s play zone is near the Back Porch.
How often do you get to stand behind a foul pole (left field) let alone with a drink rail and watch the sun set over the grandstand with a water tower in the distance? Here you can. It’s beautiful. The Stockton hockey arena is the ballpark’s left field neighbor and is quite impressive looking from the seats.
A mascot called Splash greets fans as they enter the ballpark. Splash traverses the seating area during the game for photo taking and high-fiving.
The Ports provide expected between inning entertainment (they, fortunately, are not over whelming –as baseball still seems why fans are there). Gimmicks and contests include a condiment race, dirtiest car in the parking lot, dance for your dinner, musical chairs, and more.
The scoreboard is located in left field above the bullpens. It provides the line score and strikes, balls, outs. No closed captioning or replays are offered. Ten retired jerseys are displayed underneath the press box. The most prominent one is for Dallas Braden who pitched a perfect game for the Athletics in May, 2010 and is a supporter of Stockton and the Ports.
It can get hot during day games but cools off nicely during evening games. Bring layers just in case it gets too cool.
With the building of the stadium and adjacent hockey rink, the city had hoped the neighborhood would grow into more of a destination place with restaurants and bars where fans can spend time pre or post games. That has not yet happened in Stockton.
Picturesque McLeod Lake waterfront and walkway is behind right field though it can’t be seen from the seating area. Take a walk around the 360-degree concourse to get a view. The concourse is 1/3 mile. Across the lake, the Children’s Museum of Stockton may be worthwhile visiting or head to the Regal Stockton City Center & IMAX to catch a movie.
About a mile away along Weber Ave several eateries can be found: Casa Flores (Mexican), Cast Iron Grill, Papa Urb’s Grill (Filipino), and more. A little over a mile north is Valley Brew. They don’t brew their own beers yet but have 30 or so craft beers on tap, serves food, has plenty of tv’s turned to a sporting event and it has $4.50 Happy Hour brews.
The closest hotel (walking distance 0.3 miles) is the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel.
Other minor league baseball to see if visiting the area is the Modesto Nuts (30 min drive) or the Sacramento River Cats (50 min drive). And, the Ports’ parent team, Oakland Athletics, is a little over an hour drive from Stockton.
The fans are extremely friendly and welcome all visitors. Most stay in their seats during game action. The staff does a superb job at making fans feel appreciated. Average attendance the last few seasons is around 2,600 – 2,800 per game which puts them in the top two or three of the California League.
Banner Island Ballpark has excellent wheelchair accessibility upon entering the stadium, in the seating area, and the bathrooms. The concourse is plenty wide to accommodate the crowd.
Parking is $11 (pricey for Single A); credit cards are accepted for parking. Fans can park on neighborhood streets a block away for no charge – just watch signs on where to park or not.
Getting there is pretty easy as it’s two minutes from I-5. Just watch for one-way streets in the area. For public transportation, the 60 bus runs down West Fremont Street and the Stockton Amtrak station is about a mile and a half from the ballpark.
Return on Investment 5
Take advantage of the weekly promotions the Ports offer: $3 Mondays, Bark and Brew Tuesdays, Thirsty Thursdays ($1 for Bud or Coors 6 – 8pm), Firework Fridays – there’s something every weekday. If not attending on a Monday, prices range from $10 – $15 at the box office. Excellent prices even if not on a Monday. And a great ballpark to watch a game, chill, and take a break from life for a few hours.
The merchandise shop does not have a huge selection but some. T-shirts are $26 – $32 which seems high to me. No hat pins are for sale.
Parking is high at $11 but fans can find free parking in the neighborhood. Food and drink prices range a tad below those at other California League stadiums. And, it’s good to see some healthy food choices.
Banner Island Ballpark and the Stockton Ports have several additional items worth mentioning.
Starting lineups and rosters are provided at the customer service desk and a decent program is offered as you walk in the stadium.
An analog clock is hung on the third base side (these seem to becoming obsolete these days).
The Stockton Ports will be hosting the 2020 California League All Star Game, June 23, 2020.
Banner Island Ballpark is an extremely fun ballpark. It provides a perfect minor league game day experience. Fans and staff are friendly and welcoming, it’s affordable, and it’s not over done with extras as the ballgame takes center stage with clever, non-intrusive games and contests offered between innings. This is a pretty impressive place to watch a game.