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  • Writer's pictureEric Moreno

Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium – San Antonio Missions



Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium 5757 US Highway 90 West San Antonio, TX 78227


Year Opened: 1994

Capacity: 9,200

 

Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium – San Antonio Missions

The origin of the San Antonio Missions and minor league baseball in the Alamo City can be traced back to the club’s founding in 1888. One of the four charter members of the Texas League, the Missions have found themselves aligned as the farm club for a host of MLB teams over the years – these include the St. Louis Browns, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Houston Colt .45s, Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle Mariners, Milwaukee Brewers, and currently the San Diego Padres.


Over the course of their history, the Missions have had a remarkable amount of success, winning 14 league title and 12 division titles. A litany of Hall of Famers and All-Stars have donned the Missions unis, with a who’s who list including Brooks Robinson, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Joe Morgan, Dennis Eckersley, Mike Piazza, and Adrián Beltré.


Since 1994 the Missions have called Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium their home ballpark. Named in honor of long-time San Antonio politician Nelson Wolff, who was instrumental in getting the park built, the Wolff was the host of the Double-A All-Star Game in 1997, as well as the Texas League All-Star Game in 2011.


The ballclub officially took possessions of the stadium in 2006, the last time major renovations took place. These renovations included $1.2 million to improve concessions, replace the scoreboard, and add a new lighting system. However, the clock is ticking on this ballpark – with MLB’s taking over operations of the minor leagues in 2022, they required all stadiums to have certain requirements that Wolff Stadium just currently does not have. This has put the Missions owners in the spot of having to significantly upgrade or move to a new location; either way, a plan has to be submitted by 2025. Read on to learn more about what the Wolff is currently like.

 

Food & Beverage   4

I have no complaints whatsoever with the food and drink situation at Wolff Stadium – there are two main stands, one on the first base side and one on the third base side, that serve all your traditional stadium fare: hot dogs, fries, chicken fingers, nachos, popcorn, soft pretzels, sodas, etc. You can also get Frito pie, jumbo hot dogs, and corn dogs at these stands.



Also on the main entrance level you can find a sno cone stand, an ice cream shack (where you can get your requisite ice cream sundae in a replica batting helmet), and a “carnival” stand that serves up all manner of fried goodness (think mozzarella sticks, jalapeño poppers, and fried chicken on a stick). There are also freestanding carts offering up beer and hot sandwiches, such as cheesesteak and patty melts.


On the second deck, however, the options somehow get even better – beloved San Antonio institution Bill Miller Bar-B-Q has a stand offering up a pared-down menu that still has some of their hits; these include sliced brisket sandwiches, sausage wraps, brownies, and their legendary sweet tea. Another local fave, Sofia’s Pizzeria, also has a stand up here where they sell whole pies or pizza by the slice.

 

Atmosphere   3

Quite frankly, the Wolff is starting to show its three decades worth of age. However, there is still plenty in terms of atmosphere to make it worthwhile for fans to attend. First off there is the berm, which is the seating area behind the left field wall, popular with budget-conscious fans and home run ball seekers. This grassy hill allows fans to bring in lawn chairs or blankets to sit on and enjoy great views of the park while watching their wallet (more on this in the ROI section).


One of the updates done as part of the 2006-2007 renovation was the construction of an all-you-can-eat-and-drink “fiesta deck”. This area is able to be rented out for groups of 25-200 and offers a great time. There is also a covered picnic area down the right field line, as well as an adults-only bar/patio behind the first baseline stands.


Fans can also take in the mini version of the Missions Hall of Fame, with plaques of important figures in team history located on a wall behind the home plate stands. This area is near the Missions team store for all your Missions swag needs; note that there is also a separate store selling merch for the Flying Chanclas (see the Extras section for more on that).

 

Neighborhood   2

The area where the Missions ballpark currently sits is on the far southwest side of the city, sandwiched between an older residential neighborhood and an industrial park. Wolff Stadium is also within eyesight of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, the “gateway to the Air Force”. Having grown up in this part of town it has a soft spot in my heart; however, it is miles – both literally and figuratively – away from the heart of the city, its vibrant downtown.


In the immediate area of the ballpark, the options for dining, lodging, and entertainment are extremely limited. There are mostly chain restaurants that aren’t too far, and there are also a few really good Tex-Mex spots that are a short five-minute drive away – these include Los Dos Hermanos, which serves up all the hits like enchiladas, fajitas, and tortas. Apetitos Mexican Restaurant is also a nearby favorite, serving up breakfast and lunch favorites like chilaquiles, migas, huevos rancheros, and carne guisada.


For lodging there are quite a few more options near Wolff Stadium, primarily since the ballpark is so close to the military base. These include Country Inn & Suites by Radisson Lackland AFB and Best Western Plus Lackland Hotel & Suites, to name a few. For entertainment, however, there are very few options nearby, but you aren’t too terribly far from SeaWorld San Antonio and Traders Village shopping complex.


All in all, the relative lack of these three key types of amenities are part of the driving force behind the team seeking a new spot for their ballpark.

 

Fans   4

Fan support has never been a serious problem for the Missions; last season they averaged just under 4,200 fans per game, which filled up the ballpark on a nightly basis. The fans that attend love the team, are into the games, and are passionate about baseball.



All of these factors contribute to a winning formula for a minor league baseball team – the team does its best to reward fans for coming out by having quality players and fun activities, and the fans reward the team with their devotion. Hopefully this will be a relationship that can be maintained going forward.

 

Access   2

Access is another area where the team struggles in comparison to other teams in the Texas League and those across the state. Wolff Stadium, as mentioned, is a 15-minute drive from San Antonio’s downtown, and a 22-minute drive from San Antonio International Airport, both via Highway 90; the ballpark is conveniently viewable from said highway.


If you choose to drive there are two parking lots at the stadium, one on the third base side and one on the first base side. There are plenty of spaces available and the cost is relatively low.


Should you choose not to drive or use a rideshare, the city’s public transportation option, VIA Metropolitan Transit, does have a stop outside the ballpark.

 

Return on Investment   4

If there is one area where the Missions truly excel, it is in terms of ROI. Single-game tickets for the Missions can be had for as low as $8 apiece, which is for the berm seating, but seats in the stands are equally as friendly. The team also runs a $2 Tuesdays promotion throughout the season; tickets are $2 each, as are quite a few concession items.


Parking for Missions games is normally $10, but is $5 during the $2 Tuesday promotion. Couple all this with a concessions menu where nothing outside of liquor at the bar costs more than $8, and you’ve got a bargain. This is especially a great deal when you factor in the talent that comes in and out of the Wolff Stadium each season.

 

Extras 4

Like most minor league teams, the Missions do whatever they can to attract fans to the ballpark. They offer a ton of themed nights and giveaways throughout the season, ranging from bobbleheads to Spurs replica Manu Ginobili jerseys, to a Star Wars night and an Avengers night.


The team also has fireworks displays on Saturday nights after home games. They also take part in Minor League Baseball’s Copa de Diversion during the season, which is a lot of fun (and the uniforms are fantastic).


The team also boasts a trio of some of the most fun mascots in all of baseball in Ballapeño, a human-sized jalapeno, his mother Mamapeño, who wields a fierce chancla during the Copa de Diversion games, and Henry the Puffy Taco, the living embodiment of a truly unique San Antonio culinary delight (for a more in-depth rundown on the mascots, click here). Henry is also involved in one of the teams’ oldest and most beloved traditions, tackle the taco.


 

Final Thoughts

I currently do and probably always will have a warm place in my heart, and in my memories, for Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium. I’ve seen a lot of baseball here over the years and for whichever reason comes first, I will miss it if/when it’s gone. With that being said, I have to admit it’s not a stadium that needs to be on anyone’s bucket list. However, I think if you do attend a Missions game here you’ll have a good time.


Follow Eric Moreno's Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477.

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