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  • Andy Mantsch

Excite Ballpark – San Jose State Spartans

Photo Courtesy of SJSU Spartans

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.14

Excite Ballpark

588 East Alma Ave

San Jose, CA 95112

Year Opened: 1942

Capacity: 4,200


Somewhat Home of the Spartans

San Jose Municipal Stadium is one of the relics of the minor leagues. It’s been open since 1942 (a WPA project) and seats a solid 4,200. The stadium feels old, perhaps even older than its 1942 opening. The narrow concourse and painted walls depicting classic baseball scenes and quotes about baseball by celebrities embrace the historical feel of the park.

Unfortunately, this park is home to San Jose State by schedule only and has absolutely no inkling of embracing the college program. Decorated almost completely for the California League San Jose Giants, this is simply a borrowed home for the Spartans.

San Jose State baseball plays the majority of their baseball at Municipal Stadium, but occasionally plays home games at smaller Blethen Field on campus. The Spartans don’t exactly have a sparkling history to go along with their borrowed stadium either, although they did make the College World Series in 2000. The good news is San Jose State plans to build a new on campus stadium to replace Blethen Field at some point in the future, presumably moving their home games out of Municipal Stadium.

Note: The stadium name changed from San Jose Municipal Stadium to Excite Ballpark in 2019.

Food & Beverage 2

Municipal Stadium features a modicum of food selection from one open concession stand behind the first base line.

The menu is pretty plain including things like hot dogs ($4.75), polish sausage ($5.50), nachos ($4.75), corn dogs ($4.75) and mac & cheese ($4.50). Perhaps the most interesting thing on the menu is a batting helmet full of nachos for $9.75. None of the food is particularly bad, there’s just not much of a variety.

Soda is available for $4, but there’s a variety of drink options to choose from. Bottled water ($3.50), apple juice ($3.50), coffee ($2.50), hot chocolate ($3), Gatorade ($4) and pure leaf tea ($4.50) are all available. There is beer available for $7, but it’s limited to Bud Light. Sutter Home Wines are also available for $7.

Picking out any one item is tough because nothing really stands out. But to me, a simple hot dog and a Bud Light sums up what this stadium is all about.

Atmosphere 2

There’s not much atmosphere to speak of, and the atmosphere here seems to be stolen from the San Jose Giants.

When entering the park you’ll quickly notice all of the painting on the walls, although it’s mostly representing the Giants and the teams of the California League. There’s a grandstand wrapping from first base to third base that holds the majority of fans. There are bleachers in right field and pavilion with tables in left, but they are basically all closed for San Jose State games. This actually hurts the atmosphere by pointing out how much just isn’t available at a Spartans game.

There’s not really any in-game promotion to speak of at Municipal Stadium. The PA announcer is pretty bland and the video board in right field never actually plays any videos.

Seating is more or less limited to the grandstand area all with basically the same view. There’s no covered seating, so it’s pretty much at your discretion where you choose to take in the game from.

Neighborhood 2

The neighborhood is pretty tough to peg. It seems relatively industrial and bland, but there are some hidden gems in the area that make it tolerable. And the larger area of San Jose has a lot to offer.

There’s not a whole lot of food options in the immediate area, mostly Mexican and Asian food places. Stanley’s Sports Bar is less than 2 blocks away and easily walkable as well. If you’re looking for breweries, there are 4 in the immediate area and two worth checking out. Strike Brewing and Hermitage Brewery are both within a few blocks and offer excellent craft beer options.

San Jose itself is home to multiple attractions, both sports and otherwise. The San Jose Sharks and San Jose Earthquakes are both in the area and offer up some great sports experiences. Not far away you can check out the famous Winchester Mystery House for a spooky and interesting guided tour of the remarkably unique mansion.

There are plenty of hotels in downtown San Jose, but those can be a bit pricey. Just south of the stadium are a Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn for slightly better prices while still getting a decent upscale hotel.

Fans 2

Again, there’s not much to speak of in terms of fans. The shared venue is a bit too big for what San Jose State draws.

The number of fans at a game rarely exceeds three digits. A couple hundred fans, a few of them students, are around the park, but it seems like there’s just as many visiting fans as home fans. Even with half the stadium closed off, there are far more open seats than taken ones.

Overall this means fan engagement is at a minimum. There are a few fans that will call out the players by name, but there’s not much in terms of true fan support.

Access 3

It’s pretty easy to get to the park, but this also is a function of the lack of attendance and overall traffic in the area. Access could easily become an issue if there was a bigger draw.

Public transit is basically non-existent, even in the Bay area known for public transit options. Municipal Stadium is a few miles from any easy transit station and only a bus line comes into the general vicinity. If you’re flying in, the San Jose airport is right up the road and is a pretty big hub for traffic from a lot of locations.

Parking is free and easy to find. There’s a parking lot over the right field fence, but you can park on the street incredibly easily. Be careful to not park in the ice skating rink lot next door, as signs make it clear that towing can be enforced.

There’s really only one gate into the stadium and there’re three ticket booths in front of it. Generally, no one will really be there and getting in and out is pretty simple.

The concourse is narrow, but the lack of attendance makes it easy to navigate. Restrooms aren’t particularly nice and seem like they are from 1942, but access is quick and easy.

Return on Investment 2

Even at a cheap price, I’m not sure this is worth adding to the travel list.

$5 for a ticket that allows you to sit anywhere you want to is pretty easy. Add food and drinks in and you’re looking at about $15 for a game. Realistically though, you’re better off checking out the stadium for a San Jose Giants game. You’ll get the same historical feel but more aligned with the team and with access to the whole park.

Extras 2

I know they are generally for the minor league club and not for San Jose State, but I spent as much time looking at and reading the murals and paintings all over the walls here as I did watching the game. Baseball quotes, California League history and general random baseball drawings are everywhere in the concourse and make for an interesting walk.

Final Thoughts

While I’d tell you to check out Municipal Stadium for its history, I’d recommend skipping the San Jose State experience and showing up for a minor league game. With any luck, the San Jose State baseball program will have their own on campus stadium that feels more like home than their current setup.

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