- James Hilchen
Santa Ana Star Field – New Mexico Lobos
Photo Curtesy of Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Santa Ana Star Field
University Blvd SE & Sunshine Terrace SE
Albuquerque, NM 87131
Year Opened: 2013
UNM Baseball Returns home to Santa Ana Star Field
Santa Ana Star Field is home to the University of New Mexico Lobos baseball team. The team moved back into Santa Ana Star Field on March 24, 2013 after spending the majority of the previous 10 years as secondary tenants of Isotopes Park, home to the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Pacific Coast League.
The field has undergone numerous upgrades including a new playing surface, updated scoreboard, dugouts, bullpens, and bleachers. Permanent restrooms were just added and the renovations continue with a permanent concession area coming, among other things.
Santa Ana Star Field sits in a complex with Lobo Softball Field and the McKinnon Family Tennis Stadium, making for a beautiful complex that sits near all the other sports arenas in Albuquerque.
Food & Beverage 1
This is the one drawback to attending a game here. You don’t have much choice and it is a little pricey. The entire menu includes: pretzel w/cheese, hot dog, popcorn, nachos ($5 each), candy ($4), bottled soda and Gatorade ($5 each), water ($4), and large water ($6). If you want more than just a snack, there are far better options in the surrounding area.
Renovations continue on Santa Ana Star Field and the new complex. In the plans is a permanent concessions area that will offer more options.
The recent renovations and added McKinnon Family Tennis Complex make for a nice, relaxing atmosphere when entering the complex. If you have seen Santa Ana Star Field prior to the new addition, you won’t recognize it and will be pleasantly surprised.
All the seats (except a few under a tent beyond third base) are behind home plate and between the dugouts. Probably best to bring a chair back as all the seats are bleachers. The on-field talent for New Mexico has improved under Coach Ray Birmingham and helps the atmosphere as well.
You will be easily distracted from watching the game by the amazingly spectacular view of the Sandia Mountains that you can see over the center and right field walls. Especially at sunset, the view is hard to beat.
The neighborhood surrounding Santa Ana Star Field is unique. A quick scan from eye view will yield you absolutely nothing in the way of food or drink. More on that later as those options lay a mere few blocks away. What your eyes will lock on are the amazing sports venues, all on the same corner.
The legendary “Pit” (aka WisePies Arena), home of the Lobos basketball team and site of the 1983 NCAA Final Four is adjacent to Santa Ana Star Field. Across the street is University Stadium, home to the football team. Catty corner from Santa Ana Star Field sits Isotopes Park, home of the Albuquerque Isotopes. If the Isotopes are in town when the Lobos are, make it a point to visit. It is one of the best venues in minor league baseball.
Before or after the game, there is a litany of places to eat and/or drink. Three blocks north is Central Avenue. On Central and the surrounding area sits the University of New Mexico campus and numerous restaurants and bars, and there are options for any taste. The 66 Diner is a 50’s themed style diner that offers everything you would expect from a diner. For more elaborate (though not expensive) tastes, the Olympia Cafe is a fabulous spot. Offering up the best Mediterranean food around, the Olympia is a very popular spot. Also on Central is the Frontier Restaurant. Frontier is a college staple as well as being a spot all the tourists hit. They offer a wide variety of good options for not a lot of money. For pizza fans, give Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria a try. They serve pizza made Naples style and it is fantastic.
If you are looking to just have a few drinks and some appetizers, the Copper Lounge and Brickyard Pizza are good bets and both are located on Central. Copper Lounge serves some extraordinary pizza as well as always having drink specials.
Fans are a mixed bunch. The crowds generally aren’t too big. There are a few die-hards that you can count on seeing at every game. Some apparent college students tend to filter in and out and use the occasion for a social time more than to watch the game.
Getting to Santa Ana Star Field is about as easy as it gets. It sits just east of I-25. Take the Cesar Chavez exit. From there you can’t miss it. After new student housing, you will see “The Pit.” Park in the Pit’s parking lot and Santa Ana Star Field sits just behind it. New to Santa Ana Star Field in the 2015 season are permanent restrooms, which are an important upgrade from previous seasons.
Return on Investment 3
Five dollars gets you in the complex. Depending on scheduling, you may also have the opportunity to check out the women’s softball team and men’s tennis if they are also playing. If it is a particularly hot or sunny day, you can pay $10 for entry and sit underneath a tent that lies just beyond the third base dugout. Combine those prices with free parking and you get a decent value for your money.
The closer you sit to the top, the more likely you are to hear radio play-by-play man Robert Portnoy. Portnoy was the voice of the Albuquerque Isotopes and adds a lot to a baseball game. Two seasons ago, Robert made the transition from voice of the Isotopes to voice of the Lobos and now calls games for the basketball, football, and baseball teams. An added bonus of sitting below the press box is some shade which there isn’t much of at Santa Ana Star Field.
Another point goes to a unique promotion. Two kids were chosen and given t-shirts. The caveat to that is the t-shirts were tightly wrapped, then dunked in water and frozen. On the day of my visit, the shirts were given out in the middle of the first and the kids were still working on them into the fourth inning. Watching the kids struggle with the shirts is almost as entertaining as the game.
Santa Ana Star Field continues to undergo renovations. It sits in a new complex that can allow you to see up to three sports at one time, depending on scheduling. In addition to seeing a game at a nice venue, some of the nicest arenas to see sports in the entire nation, are within feet. Couple that with the spectacular view of the Sandia Mountains and a continually improving on-field product, and you have a stadium experience that is definitely worth going to.