Tuesday, April 9, 2013

FIELDS OF DREAMS: Raley Field, Sacramento, California

Raley Field is home to the Sacramento River Cats, the AAA affiliate of the Oakland A’s. Sitting just west of Sacramento proper, in West Sacramento to be exact, it’s just a short stroll over the bridge from Old Sacramento. Many A’s players have passed through here, in fact, the day we were there a couple of Major Leaguers in the twilight of their career…pitchers Brett Tomko and John Halama…were in the game. Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson was the River Cats first base coach for the day…I think his only tip to the guys on first was “Run!”

The team is a perennial contender in the Pacific Coast League.

Here are the stats…
Year opened: 2000
Surface: Grass
Construction cost: $42 million
Capacity: 11,093 (14,014 when including the lawn area)
Field dimensions: Left field – 330 ft.; Center field – 403 ft.; Right field – 325 ft.
Home teams: Sacramento River Cats (Pacific Coast League, AAA) 2000 –present
Events attended: one game

If you’ve ever been to the Angels’ Spring Training facility in Tempe, Arizona, this stadium is almost a carbon copy. Certain parts of the stadium, particularly the third base side, have a great view of downtown Sacramento and the Tower Bridge. It’s kind of like a minor league version of the view you’d have at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

The seating bowl only has one deck with another level of suites above that.  The home plate entrance comes into the concourse level at the top of the field deck. There is another entrance deep in right field for fans that walk over from Sacramento. From there, a long paved ramp takes you to the main seats, past the lawn area.

The wheelchair accessible seating is at the top of the field level with another spot available at very premium prices in the front row behind home plate. Ticket prices run from $8 to $60. For most seats, they tend to run $17 - $34, which is pretty high for a minor league team but also averages a slight discount for 2013. Buy tickets in advance and you save $2.

We had no problem just walking up to the ticket window and purchasing three tickets (one wheelchair, two companions) but had to settle for seats past first base into the right field area. We went to a mid-week day game that started at 11:35am and the wheelchair seating ended up close to being sold out.

Game views are excellent from any seat. Food choices are plentiful with Straw Hat pizza, Mexican food, tri tip, Subway sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, salmon tacos, popcorn, kettle corn, and much more. The food was amazingly good, if expensive. Tim and I shared a Dinger Dog, a giant ½ pound hot dog (good enough to land on our Best Foods of 2010 list), and Letty had a chef salad that was really delicious. We also had some popcorn that was a little too salty but the kettle corn was just right. The beer selection is very large with several carts selling microbrews on tap but at a cost of $11 for a large glass, it was again pretty expensive compared to other minor league stadiums.

Public transit will get you as far as Old Sacramento easily on the other side of the river. It’s an easy, wheelchair accessible walk from there over the bridge to the stadium but beware that it is a drawbridge and may be raised. It was when we walked over but it just lasts a few minutes.

There is plenty of parking in the area of the stadium; $10 for regular cars, $10 for close-in handicapped parking for those who have placards or disabled plates, and free on Wednesdays. The parking attendant also gave us several little bags of Jelly Bellies to take into the game.

A very good ballpark to watch a game in, the only downside is the high prices for tickets, parking, food, and drinks.

Copyright 2010 – Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved
UPDATED for 2013

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