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  • Writer's pictureChris Green

Cardinale Stadium – Monterey Bay FC

Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14

Cardinale Stadium 4441 2nd Ave Seaside, CA 93955

Year Opened: 2021 Capacity: 6,000


Soccer in the Bay

The Monterey area is known for its great weather and beautiful scenery, but perhaps what is missing most is a true professional sports franchise – until 2021, soccer fans here had to look north to San Jose for the closest place to quench their thirst for sports. Now, thanks to Monterey Bay FC, this need has finally been met.

The team plays at Cardinale Stadium, on the famed campus of Cal State Monterey Bay, featuring views of the ocean from the grandstand and a hearty mix of local food vendors to satisfy cravings while at the game. All things considered, this may be the hidden gem of California’s bustling soccer scene.


Food & Beverage   4

To go hungry at Cardinale Stadium is to be blind – everything you could imagine, from typical stadium fare to food from local businesses, can be found here. Favorites like elite cups ($10), baked potatoes ($13), baked pasta ($20), mac ‘n cheese ($15-$20), cheesesteaks ($20), chicken wraps ($20), specialty corn dogs ($9-$14), calamari ($20), and so much more can be found at the various vendors. Drinks are easy to find too, with Alvarado Brewing as the main attraction for local beer. If you can’t find anything to eat or drink here, you’re simply not looking hard enough.


Atmosphere   4

The game day vibe at MBFC games is unmatched; the grandstands are filled for each game, and a family-friendly atmosphere permeates throughout. Pre-game fan activities include a kids’ zone outside the main gates, giving the youngest fans a chance to have fun before the match kicks off. Sponsor activations are also plentiful, with giveaways prevalent at most games. Theme nights are also popular here, with the likes of Star Wars night and others on the schedule.

The stadium itself is simple enough, and features grandstands with backed benches for seating. The middle sections on the home side feature individual seats, and the end zone supporters’ section is the place to be for the team’s rowdiest fans. Vista views of the Pacific Ocean greet fans to the west of the stadium, while coastal pines provide shade to fans on the north side of the western end of the facility. With the stadium’s color scheme matching that of the team, and logo merchandise available at several locations, it’s easy to see what makes this such a sought-after experience for local sports fans.


Neighborhood   5

Monterey is like much of the rest of coastal California; beautiful and relaxing. Boasting the weather and scenery of the Bay Area, but with the small-town feel of more inland locations, Monterey features a regional airport, numerous locations to stay at, and a wide variety of places to eat. In addition, the world-famous Monterey Aquarium is just minutes from CSU-MB, as are Fisherman’s Wharf and Cannery Row.

The locals are kind and courteous, always willing to give you directions and recommendations on where to go, and no matter what time of the year you are going, there is always some form of festival or celebration going on, such as Italian Fest, Jazz Fest, or Octoberfest.

For great food, check out Gusto’s Handcrafted Pasta & Pizza, or Hula’s Island Grill. Hotels are plentiful here, including the Hilton Garden Inn Monterey and Hotel Pacific. The stadium’s immediate location, the town of Seaside, also features numerous restaurants and hotels.


Fans   4

The fans in Monterey are loyal and diehard. Best of all, they’re incredibly family-friendly, with many young fans making up those who are in attendance – this makes for an enjoyable atmosphere. Most of the games feature full or nearly sold-out games, and the chants from the supporters’ section don’t stop from the first kick until the final whistle.


Access   5

Parking is plentiful on-site for $20 – these lots offer easy in-and-out access to fans attending games at Cardinale Stadium, making for a seamless experience on game day. To get to the stadium, you just need to take the Lightfighter Drive exit from Highway 1; from there, you’re practically dropped off right next to the parking lot entrance.


Return on Investment   4

Tickets start at just $22 for MBFC games at Cardinale Stadium, which is a steal for professional soccer, and with the incredible atmosphere and stellar weather, you’re in for great value. Add in parking on par with many other events at $20, and you’re right on target for what you’d expect to spend at any other sporting event.

The prices for concessions can be a bit high, however, and that is likely to be what puts the biggest dent in your wallet, but with the quality of the food included, you’re sure to see value there as well.


Extras   3

The stadium features various seating options – from the supporter section in the far end zone to the sideline premium VIP seats, you have multiple options to pick from. You also can see vista views of the ocean from the stadium and entrance area, which makes for something unique among sports facilities. Finally, with MBFC games being held on CSU Monterey Bay’s campus, you’re also among the rest of the school’s athletic fields, meaning you can easily schedule your trip to also include some college baseball or softball nearby.


Final Thoughts

You may not think of Monterey as a soccer mecca, but the fans here are sure to impress even the most diehard soccer fans around. For a professional team in a relatively small city in America, the setup at Cardinale Stadium is well worth a visit for anyone looking for a day of sports when visiting the California coastline.

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