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Estadio de Roberto Walker Clemente - Gigantes de Carolina


Photos by Gail, Dan, and Steve Ohnsman, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Estadio de Roberto Walker Clemente

65 Avenida Infanteria

Carolina, Puerto Rico 00985


Year Opened: 2000 Capacity: 12,500

 

Clemente Stadium

The oft-used phrase “Baseball is Life” continues to be true in Puerto Rico.  Estadio de Roberto Walker Clemente is named after Carolina’s native, Roberto Clemente, who became famous to all baseball fans as a great player, and even more so, a great humanitarian. 

Late in the 1972 season, he became the 11th MLB player to record 3,000 hits.  Sadly, on December 31, 1972, he insisted on flying to Nicaragua to ensure supplies on the plane were properly delivered to the Nicaraguan earthquake survivors.  The heavily loaded plane took off from San Juan, one engine failed, and it crashed off the coast attempting to return to the airport.

 

The Clemente Stadium was built in 2000 and is located 18 miles east of San Juan and 11 miles east of SJU (San Juan Airport).  Residential and commercial areas surround the park, though it is located off Highway 3.  It features a beautiful exterior with a huge Clemente statue at the entrance and a large parking lot.


Clemente Stadium Entrance, Photo by Steve Ohnsman, Stadium Journey

 

Hurricane Maria caused extensive damage to Puerto Rico in 2017.  FEMA funded $18,400,000 to repair and renovate the stadium.

 

Estadio de Roberto Walker Clemente has hosted MLB games, and if the Puerto Rican fans have their way, this will become the home to an expansion team in the future.  It is a multi-purpose stadium, home to the Gigantes de Carolina.


Food & Beverage 3

The stadium features traditional “Criollo” native Puerto Rican food, including multiple versions of fried chicken with French fries ($12), hot dogs topped with potato sticks in a combo ($8), and popcorn ($5).  Coke products and bottled water go for $3.  Miller Lite is (sadly) the only beer offered – one for $4 and three for $9.  Drinks with liquor start at $10; doubles cost $13.  During the championship series, lines were long and required patience.  Wait staff wander the stadium to sell alcoholic beverages but not food.  Overall, the prices are very high for many natives.


Atmosphere 4

First – the noise!  Playoff games with a stadium full of fans with whistles, bam bams, horns, and cowbells create a LOT of noise.  If you sit in the lower level, the setting for the PA announcer’s microphone must be set at MAXIMUM, and along with the recorded music, the volume hurts one’s ears.  Our solution was to move to the upper deck where life was more peaceful – however, there are no bathrooms nor concession stands there; an elevator on the third base side helps avoid treks on the stairs.  The stadium has plastic stadium seats throughout – no cup holders.  It is time to replace the seats as the paint has worn off the metal arms.

 

The sunset views in the right field are magnificent.  The scoreboard displays useful information about the players throughout the game.  An unusual factor is that the stadium faces south.


Roberto Clement Stadium Sunset, Photo by Steve Ohnsman, Stadium Journey


Neighborhood 3

Clemente Stadium was constructed in an open area east of the Rio Grande de Loiza, with commercial buildings closest and then residential areas a quarter mile away.  We enjoyed dinner at Taco Riendo (Mexican) south of the stadium, along with Sorriso Pizzeria, which offers creative pizzas and a full-service bar.  Hotels/lodging are very limited around the stadium – the best bet is hotels near the San Juan airport.

 

Estadio Yldefonso Sola Morales is about a 50 min drive, so if you’re on the island, visit that one too for some more “Baseball is Life.”


Fans 5

Passionate, knowledgeable baseball fans abound in Puerto Rico!  During the league championship series, the experience goes up yet another level.  Local tradition is “the more noise, the better.”  Even battery-powered air horns are enjoyed and respected!  Several fans tailgate in the parking lot before the games.


Access 3

Driving to the ballpark area is quite easy, with two major highways just south.  Entering the parking lot ($4) can be a bit arduous – two or three lanes.  Maps show a bus line with a stop about ¾ of a mile west of the stadium.  San Juan Airport (11 miles) is the nearest airport.  With large crowds, the aisles are often crowded.  The ticket booth is located on the ground level, just to the right of the stairs.  A small trailer nearby offers souvenirs, hats, and shirts.  Restrooms are acceptable.  The Gigantes de Carolina do not have programs for sale.


Return on Investment 4

Puerto Rico has a long history of honoring seniors who can buy tickets at half-price, even for the championship series!  I recommend general admission tickets as a better value.  Food prices are on the high side, based on Puerto Rican standards. 

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Extras 4

The exterior of the stadium and sunset views offer “photo ops” along with the Clemente statue.  Plenty of parking is available.  Native/criollo food is good.  The scoreboard offers a good level of information.  Fan enthusiasm/knowledge is a plus; the noise volume is a negative.


Final Thoughts

Clemente Stadium is far and away the most attractive of all the Puerto Rican baseball stadiums.  Once we figured out that the upper deck seats were better for my ears, We enjoyed all four championship series games.  The fans are great.  It's definitely worth a visit.




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