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  • Matt Finnigan

Gesa Stadium – Tri-City Dust Devils


Photos by Matt Finnigan and Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Gesa Stadium 6200 Burden Blvd Pasco, WA 99301

Tri-City Dust Devils website Gesa Stadium website

Year Opened: 1995 Capacity: 3,654

 

Three is the Magic Number

The Tri-Cities region of Washington has, predictably, three cities (Pasco, Kennewick, Richland) situated along three rivers (the Yakima, Snake, and Columbia) and one professional baseball team, the Tri-City Dust Devils (High A – LAA). In 2021, the Dust Devils played their first season as an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, after previously serving as a Class A affiliate of the San Diego Padres (2015-2020) and the Colorado Rockies (2001-2014).

The Dust Devils call the 3,654-seat Gesa Stadium home. Opened in 1995, Gesa Stadium does not boast any of the features (like the Frisco RoughRiders’ lazy river) that some newer stadiums have. What makes Gesa Stadium different is not obvious until entering the stadium. First, the stadium’s unusual geographic orientation gives fans beautiful views. Gesa Stadium’s home plate faces due south to provide views of Horse Heaven Hills, craggy remnants of the Ice Age along the Columbia River. A south-facing home plate is a rarity, however. Rule 2.01 of the Major League Baseball rule book recommends that stadiums orient home plate such that batters face east-northeast. Second, the stadium’s orientation meant that the sun would turn Gesa Stadium into a convection oven, blinding and baking spectators seated in the stands along the third baseline. In 2007, therefore, the team built a 137-foot-tall sunshade behind the stands along the first baseline to block the setting sun and enable fans in all parts of the stadium to enjoy the game by lowering temperatures in the stadium by up to 20 degrees. This sunshade, which blunts the sun’s glare and heat, is unique to Gesa Stadium and a creative solution to enable fans to enjoy baseball in southeastern Washington.

Food & Beverage 3

Gesa Stadium’s primary concession stand, 1st Base Concessions, features food and drink concessions that fans expect to see at a ballpark, but not much else: hot dogs ($5.50), nachos ($4.50), pretzels ($4.50), peanuts ($4.50), and popcorn ($4.50). Coca-Cola products sell for $4.50 for a 32-ounce soda and $3.50 for a 21-ounce soda, while bottles of Powerade ($4.50) and water ($4.50) are also available. The Fry Shack, along the third baseline, has a larger menu. There, fans can dine on chicken strips with fries ($8), a crispy chicken sandwich with fries ($8), corn dog ($4.50), garlic fries ($4.50), and tater tots ($4). The quality of Gesa Stadium’s food may need improvement. On the night of this review, an order of loaded tater tots ($5) was topped with cold nacho cheese.

Beer drinkers will not be disappointed in Gesa Stadium’s options. At the Home Plate Beer stand, a 20-ounce beer costs $8 (domestic) and $9 (premium). The Short Stop beer stand, located near the first baseline, offers similar pricing, along with 12-ounce canned wine for $10. Many of the familiar domestic beers (Budweiser, Coors, and Miller products) are on tap, as are several craft and import beers, including a Citrus Mistress IPA from Oregon’s Hop Valley Brewing Company. The panoply of beer at Gesa Stadium should have something for any taste.

Atmosphere 3

Gesa Stadium has a familiar, minor league seating arrangement in which fans sit behind home plate and along each baseline, with no seats beyond the outfield fences. Both chair backs and metal bleachers are available in reserved and general admission seating areas, respectively. There is no covered seating in the ballpark. A simple scoreboard (hitter’s count/outs/linescore) stands behind the left field wall with a small display screen across the top. The public address system, while audible and clear, has an intermittent buzz that distracts from the game action. In-game promotions are standard for minor league baseball.

The stadium’s beauty lies in its environs. Horse Heaven Hills provides a beautiful backdrop beyond the outfield, particularly with the sun setting behind the perfectly placed sunshade along the first baseline. A general admission seat along the third baseline provides great views of both, along with the action on the field.

Neighborhood 2

A “neighborhood” in the true sense does not exist around Gesa Stadium. The stadium is part of the Pasco Sporting Complex, adjacent to the Hapo Convention Center and hemmed in by Interstate 182 to the south. The ballpark has abundant space around it, which makes parking easy. Fans wanting a short walk from a nearby pub or restaurant will be disappointed, however, as such options do not exist.

Those fans can find pre and post-game sustenance a short drive away. Numerous restaurants sit in shopping centers along North Road 68, northwest of Gesa Stadium. These restaurants include Hacienda Del Sol (Mexican), Love Curry (Indian), Sawadee (Thai), and Bruchi’s (American). The Dugout, located at Burden Road and North Road 68, provides a nice watering hole that’s a quick drive away. Because of the ballpark’s proximity to the convention center, several hotels are likewise available within a short drive. Visitors will find both a Hampton Inn and a Holiday Inn Express on the convention center’s grounds.

Fans 3

The Dust Devils enjoy strong support from fans in and around the Tri-Cities, setting new single-season attendance records in 2016 and 2019. The global COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the 2020 season and limited attendance capacity for part of the 2021 campaign. The team typically averages 2,200-2,300 fans. Those in attendance are attentive and responsive, some using Gesa Stadium’s metal bleachers to amplify foot-stomping enthusiasm.

Access 3

Gesa Stadium’s access is ideal, with easy entry to the stadium’s parking lot from Burden Road. Fans can reach the ballpark by taking Interstate 182 (from which the stadium is visible) and exiting onto northbound Road 68. The stadium has plenty of parking and inbound surface roads do not experience significant congestion from baseball-loving drivers. Alternately, the Tri-Cities’ Ben Franklin Transit’s No. 225 bus has a stop on Burden Road, less than a half-mile from Gesa Stadium.

The stadium itself has ample room for fans to buy tickets, find food, and reach their seats. The ticket office is well-staffed and fans do not wait for tickets or entry inside. Wide concourses run throughout Gesa Stadium, with reserved seats below and general admission seats above the main concourse. All seats have unobstructed views of the field. To appreciate the view of the Horse Heaven Hills and the sunset (modified by the sunshade), sit in the stands along the third baseline.

Return on Investment 4

A Dust Devils’ game at Gesa Stadium is a good bargain. Parking is $3, with spaces sufficiently close to the ballpark to feel like a VIP parking section. The team has a creative ticket structure, with differing prices for Sunday-Wednesday home games on the one hand, and Thursday-Saturday home games on the other. A reserved, lower box seat has walk-up prices of $12 (Sunday-Wednesday) and $14 (Thursday-Saturday), while upper box seats are priced at $11 and $13, respectively, for those days of the week; general admission seats are $9 (Sunday-Wednesday) and $11 (Thursday-Sunday). Fans can save $1 per seat by purchasing tickets before game day, and discounts for general admission seats are available to kids, seniors, and members of the military. Food and beer pricing aligns with other High-Class A stadiums.

Extras 3

Gesa Stadium collects a point for celebrating peanut vendor-turned-in-game-entertainer Erik Mertens, better known as “Erik the Peanut Guy.” Mertens began working at Gesa Stadium when he was 18 years old and has spent the past two decades entertaining Dust Devils fans, including his present role as the stadium’s emcee between innings. Fans have embraced his “Peanut Guy” persona to the point that the team has created his own seating area along the third baseline and, in 2020, recognized him with his own, giant bobblehead. Erik was on assignment the night of this review, but his legend precedes him and he exemplifies why minor league baseball can be so fun.

The Dust Devils have two life-sized bobbleheads that greet visitors: Erik the Peanut Guy and former Dust Devil and current Seattle Seahawk quarterback Russell Wilson, who played in Pasco in 2010 as an infield prospect of the Colorado Rockies.

The Dust Devils’ popular mascot, Dusty, is available throughout games to fans wanting to snap photos or get autographs.

Final Thoughts

With great views and reasonable costs, a game at Gesa Stadium enables fans to enjoy baseball in a unique setting that does not break anyone’s bank. The ballpark is clean, well-maintained, and well worth a visit.

Follow Matt Finnigan’s stadium journeys on Twitter @mattfinniganco.

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