- Eric 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 Highway 90 West San Antonio, TX 78227
Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium website
Year Opened: 1994
Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium – San Antonio Missions
They can trace the origins of professional baseball and the San Antonio Missions in the Alamo City all the way back to 1888. For context, this time in American history saw the opening of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., the founding of the Eastman Kodak Company and the National Geographic Society, and the first publishing of Ernest Thayer’s poem “Casey at the Bat”. In other words, it was several lifetimes ago when the Missions first took the field.
This historic franchise has seen an incredible number of talented players don the team’s uniform, including Dennis Eckersley, Pedro Martínez, Mike Piazza, and Brooks Robinson. Current Padres All-Star Fernando Tatis, Jr. is also a recent player who has spent time playing for the Missions.
For much of the team’s history, the Missions were anchor members of the Double-A Texas League. The longest affiliation as a farm team was with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which they maintained from 1977-2000. In 2019, the Missions became the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers with the hope of either new facilities or, in the interim, significant upgrades being made to the Wolff. With neither appearing likely, the Missions reverted to both the Padres and the Double-A ranks in the Texas League.
While major renovations and upgrades haven’t been done since 2006, Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium is still a local fan favorite and is the place most South Texans get their first chance to see professional baseball. Read on to see what makes the Wolff special.
Food & Beverage 4
Like a lot of great stadiums across the Minor Leagues, the Wolff goes out of its way to offer up a wide range of food and beverage choices for fans that take in Missions games. Pretty much all the food and concessions offerings are located behind the home plate stands, either on the ground level or up above in the grandstand level.
Two main concession stands offer up a traditional ballpark fare, such as hot dogs (regular, jumbo, or corn dog if you prefer), nachos, Frito pie, pretzels, ice cream (including baseball helmet sundaes and root beer floats), and more. Fountain drinks, draft beer, bottled sports drinks, and water are also all available for reasonable prices. In addition, for season ticket holders there is an all-you-can-eat option available that is a great bargain.
In addition to the traditional stadium fare, there are a couple of local favorites that have set up shop on the upper concourse, which tend to draw some pretty big crowds during Missions games. One is Sofia’s Pizzeria, a local favorite that sells pizza by the slice – mainly pepperoni and cheese. They also sell an item named in honor of the Missions mascot (more on him later) called Meatballapeños, which is an assortment of spicy Italian-style meatballs.
Directly across the way from Sofia’s is another home-grown favorite, Bill Miller Bar-B-Q. The fast-food chain has set up shop at the Wolff and has brought with it a pared-down menu of some of its signature items, including their sliced brisket sandwiches, brownies, and sweet tea. In fact, their mascot Sweetie often can be found patrolling the stands during games
Between what’s offered at the concessions stands and the good old-fashioned hawkers that patrol the stands selling beer, popcorn, cotton candy, etc., you’re covered in the food and beverage department at Missions games.
Like a lot of other teams across the minor leagues, the Missions have done a great job of making the games fun, family events. The main concourse (less so since the advent of the pandemic, of course) has vendors and games to keep people occupied in between lulls in the action. Also, the last significant upgrade to the Wolff saw the addition of a Fiesta Deck above the stands along the third baseline, which can accommodate large groups or parties.
One of the traditional draws of the Wolff has always been its outfield berm seating. This grassy hill, located in left-center, offers general admission ticket pricing for fans that want to bring in chairs or blankets to sit on, and possibly catch a souvenir.
Other high points to be on the lookout for include the team store directly behind home plate, and the wall of fame behind first base that features some of the greats to not only play for the Missions but to come from San Antonio.
The Wolff is located in the southwest area of San Antonio, within eyesight of nearby Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. Throughout games, you’ll see military planes taking off and landing in the distance beyond the outfield walls. You’re also guaranteed to spot plenty of servicemen and women in the stands during Missions games as a result of its proximity to the base.
However, this area of town puts it about 20-25 minutes away from the popular downtown area of the city – this area is home to the Alamo, the River Walk, the Historic Pearl, and countless popular dining, shopping, and other entertainment options.
The immediate area around the Wolff is a mix of residential and industrial properties. That being said, there isn’t much in the way of entertainment, dining, or lodging options in the immediate vicinity. However, the stadium is adjacent to Interstate 90, which connects to Interstate 10, Loop 410, and Texas State Highway 151 within 10-15 minutes. This is especially good news for those looking to have a little fun before or after Missions games. That’s because out on 151 is SeaWorld San Antonio – this marine mammal and conservation-based theme park are a must-visit for families and thrill-seekers alike.
Also out on 151 is the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa. With fine dining, a five-acre water park, hiking, and biking trails, and a 27-hole championship golf course, this resort is a destination unto itself and is a great place to spend time either as a guest or just as a visitor.
Over the years, the Missions have done a great job of building a strong relationship with the community. Thanks in part to their aforementioned strong relationship with the local military, the team draws consistent crowds to the Wolff. Missions fans have proven to be loyal to the team despite the frequent changes in big league affiliation over the last two decades.
In addition, like a lot of teams across the minor leagues, the Missions tend to have a lot of promotional nights – e.g. bobblehead night, t-shirt night, fireworks night, etc. – to entice larger crowds. This also goes for games when the team dons the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio moniker.
One area where the Wolff has not quite been able to keep up with other more modern minor league stadiums is its Access. While it is right off Interstate 90, that is virtually the only way to get to the Wolff. This puts it about 20 minutes from the San Antonio International Airport. However, if you choose not to drive, the city’s public transportation system, VIA San Antonio, has a bus stop right near the Wolff. But if you do choose to drive, parking at the Wolff is $10 per car.
Return on Investment 4
One of the great benefits of having minor league baseball in your hometown is that it is a great way to get exposure to professional sports in a relatively inexpensive manner; this holds for Missions games at the Wolff. Concessions costs and parking are all relatively affordable, especially if you’re bringing family or friends to the game. Tickets for weekend games for the Missions start at $10 for general admission seating, but the team also has an incredibly inexpensive $2 Tuesday deal for games on that day. When you couple the ticket costs with your other expenses, you really can’t beat the bargain you get for games at the Wolff.
As has been mentioned, the Missions offer up a lot of extras for fans who attend games throughout the season, ranging from giveaway nights to concerts on select nights. These are all great incentives to attend Missions games early and often.
What the Missions also have is not one, not two, but three classic mascots that are all beloved by fans. The first is Ballapeno and Mamapeno, life-sized anthropomorphic jalapeno peppers. Ballapeno has been the official mascot of the Missions since 2010, while his house-dress-and-curlers-wearing mother – aka Mamapeno – was introduced as part of the team’s Flying Chanclas initiative.
While those are great mascots, by far the star of the proverbial show is Henry the Puffy Taco. The life-sized walking taco has been a part of the Missions and game-day festivities since the team moved to the Wolff. On weekend games, young fans can even sign up to take part in a contest to chase down and tackle the taco during the team’s seventh-inning stretch – it’s a great tradition and something fans look truly look forward to.
While it does have some age to it, there really is no denying that there is something special about Nelson W. Wolff Municipal Stadium. While it might lack some of the bells and whistles of more modern venues, it still captures all the classic features of a great ballpark. If you find yourself in the Alamo City during the summer, make it a point to head out to the Wolff and catch a Missions game. It’s a fun, affordable chance to catch a glimpse of some possible future Hall of Famers, and a rare chance to see a child tackle a person dressed up like a taco.
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