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  • Meg Minard

Excite Ballpark – San Jose Giants


Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Excite Ballpark

588 E Alma Ave

San Jose, CA 95112


San Jose Giants website Excite Ballpark website


Year Opened: 1942 Capacity: 4,200

 

The Road to Oracle Park

Opened in 1942 as a Works Progress Administration project, San Jose Municipal Stadium oozes with history. Yes, I know, it’s not called Municipal Stadium anymore as Excite Credit Union purchased naming rights this 2019 season. It is the first such naming rights deal in the 77-year history of the facility. So now it’s called Excite Ballpark.

The San Jose Giants are the single A baseball team of the nearby San Francisco Giants and play in the California League. Baseball has been played at Municipal Stadium since 1942 so it’s hard for a fan to change stadium names so quickly.

The Giants have been quite successful as a team and developing future MLB players. They won the California League championship most recently in 2010 and have seen the likes of Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey and 200+ more players move on to the big league over the years.

Food & Beverage 5

Most concessions are in a walkway behind and outside the seating bowl, though the inner concourse has some of the traditional fare. Snacks include hot dogs, nachos, chili dogs, pretzels, peanuts, popcorn, candy and the like ($3 – $6).

The outside concourse, called Gigante’s Alley, is where to go for street tacos ($6 – $12), Gordon Biersch garlic fries, frickles (fried pickles), chicken tenders ($7.50 – $11), Bubba Burgers ($10 – $11), Greek gyros ($8.50), and the world famous Turkey Mike’s BBQ (ribs, chicken, burgers, sausages, dogs, corn on the cob, and sides) all freshly grilled. Tons of local brew stands are provided in Gigante’s Alley: Strike Brewing, Santa Clara Valley Brewing, Firestone Walker, Gordon Biersch, Sierra Nevada, and more. Of course, a fan can get traditional domestic beer ($8 Coors Light or Budweiser / $10 Blue Moon).

Pepsi is the soft drink provider at the ballpark.

Our recommendation is to do like the locals and get a California craft beer of your choice and something from Turkey Mike’s to experience the best of the San Jose Giants’ menu offerings.

Atmosphere 4

Municipal Stadium/Excite Ballpark provides an outstanding environment and one every minor league baseball fan should experience. Baseball history immerses the ballpark; it’s almost like a museum so be sure to get there early to see all it offers. Every wall has some kind of history notation, even the ladies’ room has all kinds of women’s baseball décor and history on the walls (and I’ll assume the men’s room too).

One level of seating surrounds the infield area with party decks at either end. Fans enter at row one then walk up from there. No hand rails are provided. The first 4 – 8 rows are stadium seats with the rest of the seating blue and orange bleachers. The stadium seats have average width and leg room. Handicapped seating is down the third baseline. A net runs across main seating area and angles down to end of dugouts. The party areas down the lines are net free. The first base side gets sun first which is better (warmer) for early to mid-season games.

A lush green field adorns the diamond even at the end of the season.

Championship banners fly on each side of US flag in center field with palm trees just outside the wall and a mountain view in the distance. Planes frequently fly over on their way to San Jose Airport.

A clear and crisp video scoreboard is in right field and provides line score, player stats, and lineups. A small dot matrix board in left field shows pitch count and pitch speed. And, the dugouts are really dug out and below field level

Some not so traditional local-sponsored contests are presented between innings. Things like throwing a roll of toilet paper into a toilet bowl, horse-head cut outs race beyond the outfield wall or a small truck is driven on the field and a fan tries to throw a ball to knock a headlight out. And there’s traditional contests like the potato sack race or musical chairs too. Lots of fan participation. The music is too loud between innings so one can’t talk easily with their neighbor.

Neighborhood 3

Excite Ballpark sits between Kelley Park, Solar4America Ice and CEFCU Stadium.

Kelley Park has a zoo, a Japanese Garden, a history park museum, and many picnics areas. Solar4America Ice is an indoor ice rink and is home to the San Jose Sharks practice facility, the San Jose State University’s Spartans hockey team, and the Silicon Valley Curling Club. Inside the rink is Stanley’s Sports Bar, a decent place to go pre or postgame for a drink or bite to eat. CFCU Stadium is where San Jose State Spartan football is played.

Except for the sports bar in the ice rink, other places to eat and drink walking distance to the stadium are not found. However, just a few miles away in downtown San Jose are a plethora of places to visit. Henry’s Hi-Life, Firehouse No. 1 Gastropub, and The Farmers Union come highly recommended. Finding parking in downtown San Jose can be a battle.

Many breweries are near the ballpark: Camino, Clandestine, Santa Clara Valley, Hermitage, Strike, Uproar, and one of my favorites Floodcraft Brewery located in the Whole Foods Market. For the cider drinkers, check out Cider Junction about 2.5 miles from the park.

Hotels in San Jose are terribly expensive ($200 – $300), especially downtown. About three miles the other direction from downtown and Excite Ballpark is a Best Western and a Motel 6. Or check out Airbnb or VRBO for places to stay.

Other sports during the baseball months include the tail end of San Jose Spartans baseball season and MLS San Jose Earthquakes.

Fans 4

The San Jose Giants fans are very enthusiastic. Several fans can be seen keeping score. They are very supportive of their local nine and many stay late into the game. Visitors can feel safe and more than likely can easily strike up a conversation with the local fan base.

Average attendance has run 2,100 – 2,400 the last few seasons and puts them in the middle of the California League.

There is a close relationship between San Jose residents and the San Francisco Giants. It is not uncommon for fans to make the train trip up to the city to catch their favorite former San Jose Giants play.

Access 3

Driving to Municipal Stadium is a breeze as exits from I-280 and the US 101 are just a few blocks away. Parking is available from the Giants for a whopping $15 (highest in the league). Street parking may be available if arriving early to a game.

Public transportation does not appear to be an easy option as the nearest train station (San Jose Diridon Station) is three miles away. Tamein Station is closer (about 1 ½ miles) but it has very limited service so that’s not recommended.

Sufficient restrooms are available at the end of the third base concourse and to the right when entering the main gate.

Fans must walk through a metal detector upon entry. In fact, lots of security personnel permeate the stadium so fans are assured any confrontations that might occur are addressed and quelled quickly.

Return on Investment 3

Firestone Walker Brewery sponsors ½ off beer at 8:05pm (they are the brewers of 805 beer).

The Giants have all kinds of giveaways and special events throughout the season such as heritage nights, pups in the park, Star Wars, first responders, fireworks, and more.

Ticket prices, concessions, and parking are on the higher side of other California League stadiums but certainly much more affordable than their parent club in San Francisco. Tickets range from $8 – $27 for a single game day with flex packs and season tickets allowing some discount to those prices.

Extras 4

Just before getting to Turkey Mike’s, an excellent merchandise store is down third base side full of jerseys, shirts, pennants, and trinkets. The number of different breweries along Gigante’s Alley is truly outstanding.

Plenty of San Jose and San Francisco Giants history is displayed around this ballpark to enjoy. San Jose Municipal Stadium / Excite Ballpark has a deep history in the Bay Area and the people there are proud of it. Particularly cool are the old painted pennants from minor league franchises gone by. All of the logos and insignias throughout the stadium are painted on rather than the usual cookie-cutter signs. Murals of former Giants and other ballplayers are particularly pleasing to the eye as well as the San Francisco retired numbers outside the team store.

Final Thoughts

After 77 years, it’s hard to see the stadium name change and for many people it will still be referred to as Municipal Stadium. The stadium is very well kept and radiates with tons of displays honoring past years of San Jose baseball and the Giants. For anyone who’s a fan of minor league baseball, a trip to see the Giants should be on the bucket list.

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