Ranking the MiLB Ballparks of California
Minor League Baseball can be seen from coast to coast in the United States. However, there is one state that can boast quite an array of different ballparks. That state is California. California is home to 10 minor league baseball teams. From AAA to A ball there is a wide variety of different levels and ballparks. There is a minor league team for everyone in the state of California. From Sacramento down to San Jose these are the rankings of the Minor League Ballparks in the state of California.
Raley Field – Home of the Sacramento River Cats (AAA) 4.57
The Sacramento River Cats have been in Sacramento since 2000 and have played at Raley Field that entire time. The River Cats were affiliated with the nearby Oakland A’s for the first 15 years they were in Sacramento before switching affiliations to the San Francisco Giants in 2015. The River Cats have won four league titles and two class titles since 2000 and have won an impressive 11 division championships since 2000.Since opening, Raley Field has been a hit with the Sacramento community as well as the baseball community. The A’s, in their never-ending stadium saga, have long been rumored as candidates to move to Raley Field and expand the seating. There is little talk of this now as the Kings are actively building their new basketball arena in downtown and the city seems focused on Sacramento Republic FC’s bid for MLS.
LoanMart Field – Home of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (A-Advanced) 4.3
The Quakes continue to be a leader in the California League circuit. Their stadium, LoanMart Field, is perfect because it’s in a highly populated area, yet manages to provide a feeling of serenity in the ballpark. It doesn’t take a Stadium Journey review to know that the Quakes are one of the most reputable names in minor league baseball. Fans have to applaud this organization for staying true to who they are. Despite being so successful over the years, the organization clearly has not taken their eye off the ball.
Banner Island Ballpark – Home of the Stockton Ports (A-Advanced) 3.9
The Stockton Ports moved from Billy Hebert Field to Banner Island Ballpark in 2005. The Stockton Ballpark affectionately referred to by locals as Banner Island Ballpark sits on what no longer is an island in Stockton, CA. The inlets have mostly been filled in but the name lives on. As you can see, the name above the entrance says “Stockton Ballpark” even though “Banner Island Ballpark” is used by fans and the organization. This is because the city of Stockton owns the ballpark (and the adjacent Stockton Arena) and they presumably would like to sell the rights to the name at some point in the future.
San Manuel Stadium – Home of the Inland Empire 66ers (A-Advanced) 3.9
While named after the large region, the team known as the 66ers call the city of San Bernardino their home and play at San Manuel Stadium. The stadium was built in 1996, but still, has a rather modern feel to it. 5,000 is the normal capacity but can accommodate much more with overflow seating in the grassy area surrounding the field. The city of San Bernardino has hosted baseball teams with nicknames ranging from Kittens to Spirit to the 66ers of today. The current nickname stems from the historic route’s influence on the region.
Lake Elsinore Diamond – Home of the Lake Elsinore Storm (A-Advanced) 3.71
The 2018 season will mark the 25th season of The Lake Elsinore Storm. Prior to becoming the Single-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres in 2001, the California Angels were the parent organization from 1981 to 2000, taking up residency in Palm Springs until the opening of The Diamond in 1994. Throughout the years The Diamond has served the community well. Aside from hosting the local 9, The Diamond has also been host to the 2015 NCAA Baseball Regional, as well as the 2017 Stadium Super Trucks World Championship Finals and several music festivals, hosting a wide variety of acts from Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, The Beach Boys, A Flock of Seagulls and more!
Recreation Park – Home of the Visalia Rawhide (A-Advanced) 3.4
The Rawhide are a Class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the California League. Recreation Ballpark is home to the Rawhide, and the park itself is a San Joaquin Valley staple for sports fans in the region. The park originally opened in 1946 and has played host to a variety of colorful minor league teams including the Oaks, Redlegs, and Stars. From 2003 to 2009, Rawhide Ballpark underwent a major renovation to expand to a still meager capacity of 2,468. What the park may not offer in terms of size, it makes up for in quirky features and historic charm.
The Hangar – Home of the Lancaster JetHawks (A-Advanced) 3.4
The JetHawks have cemented their status as one of the class acts in the California League. The patience paid off for obtaining a team over twenty-years-ago and the franchise has been stable ever since. Lancaster is eons away from the bright lights and freeway congestion of Los Angeles and taking in a game at The Hangar is a laid back event, reminiscent of minor league baseball the way it used to be.
San Jose Municipal Stadium – Home of the San Jose Giants (A-Advanced) 3.3
Since 1942, San Jose has played in the Single-A California League, with the exception of a two-year spell in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League as the San Jose Missions in 1977-78. During this time the Missions were affiliated with the Oakland Athletics. San Jose Municipal Stadium is now over 70 years old and much of the main structure has remained unchanged. However, the organization continues to make improvements to the venue which include the new entryway, a resealed main bowl of seating and an awning down the first base line.
Chukchansi Park – Home of the Fresno Grizzlies (AAA) 3.00
Chukchansi Park (formerly known as Grizzlies Stadium) is host to the PCL (Pacific Coast League) minor league baseball Fresno Grizzlies as well as the USL (United Soccer League) Fresno FC. The Fresno Grizzlies are currently (2018) the AAA affiliate of the Houston Astros. Chukchansi are a Native American Indian tribe in central California, known for their beliefs in and advocating early learning and giving students the tools they need to succeed. This also includes continuing education of their historic culture. The tribe owns and operates the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino. That casino owns the naming rights to downtown Fresno’s Chukchansi Park.
John Thurman Field – Home of the Modesto Nuts (A-Advanced) 3.00
John Thurman Field has been in operation since 1955 and benefits from a 1997 major renovation and ongoing cosmetic touch-ups since 2007 when the city of Modesto put in a new, fancy scoreboard and LCD display (the nicest I’ve seen for a Class A team). Also new are the two large party decks on either side of the press box. The Class A-Advanced California League features mostly medium-sized cities a bit farther inland than the MLB franchises on the coast. The most recognizable rival to the Nuts is the Stockton Ports. The Modesto franchise has won eight California League titles, however none have come under the Nuts moniker.
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