My last trip to a Major League Baseball game set me back $150.
If that sounds a tad on the inexpensive side for three people — myself and two grandkids — it’s probably because it was five years ago for an A’s game at the Oakland Coliseum.
Ashley was freaking out about the prices when the vendors were hawking ice cream and such. I had to force her to get something and not to worry about what it was costing me.
The drive to the game was almost two hours thanks to an accident on Interstate 680. Getting back was almost as much fun.
Contrast that to a trip to Banner Island Ball Park in Stockton to watch the Ports — the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Oakland A’s play.
It’s a 25-minute trip from my driveway until I pull into a parking space. It costs me $5 to park as opposed to $30 at the Oakland Coliseum. If I felt like it — and actually owned one — I could dock my boat at Banner Island for $10 or $30 if I want to stay overnight.
There is not a bad seat at Banner Island. For $10 you’re closer to the field than a $35 ticket at an A’s game.
Not only is the food less expensive but it is often better. You can even get full meals at Banner Island without having to take out a personal loan.
Stockton Ports games come with all of the promotions as well as occasional aerial fireworks and other fun activities.
You can enjoy a professional baseball game in a nice venue without worrying about whether you will have to file for bankruptcy. It’s also more laid back than a Major League stadium.
Arguably the best part is a baseball game outing doesn’t turn into an all-day endeavor leaving you zapped especially with the need to battle traffic on the way home over the Altamont.
Going to a weeknight game at Stockton is doable as it is a quick trip up Interstate 5. You can catch a game, drive home, and be asleep easily by 10 p.m. Catch a night game in the Bay Area and you’ll be lucky if you’re home by 11 p.m. And then you have to spend an hour or so unwinding from the Bay Area freeway battle and the lovely Altamont Pass trek.
I am not a hardcore MLB fan or really much of a baseball fan for that matter. But over the years I’ve come to like the “experience” of going to baseball games. Years ago I went to perhaps a dozen games at Candlestick Park with my best friend at the time and his wife who were San Francisco Giants fans to the core. Gail would listen to games on the radio and keep track of player stats. She did the same at the games too. Jack was a fan but he was more like me in that it was the experience and traditions and people watching that hooked me.
During that time period I made it to perhaps 10 other Giants games taking exchange students and going with guys I was bicycling with at the time.
That led me on travels to stop at other baseball venues to catch games to soak up the ambience. My favorite by far still has to be Wrigley Field where I stood — along with fans who were seated in lawn chairs on buildings beyond the outfield fence to watch the game au gratis — for the seventh inning stretch as Harry Caray leaned out of the game announcer’s booth singing “Take me Out to the Ball Game.”
I could not even tell you who the Cubs were playing that day but I remember the experience.
I guess that’s my point. You can get the same ball game experiences with a lot less people and in a much more mellow setting without having to mortgage your house and trying not to develop road rage either on the way to or from the game by taking in a Stockton Ports game.
And given these are professional players who one day may make it to the big leagues or — occasionally — who have been sent down to the minors for rehab or other reasons — you can still get hooked on following teams and players just like in the Major League.
There’s the added bonus of the Modesto Nuts being close by and — if you are so inclined — you can take in other venues in the California League by heading south down Highway 99 for some short overnight road trips.
Such a trip will also make you realize the unique gem we have in our own backyard with the Banner Island Ball Park and the next door Stockton Arena where you can take in minor league hockey at Stockton Heat games as well as watch the fast-paced NBA G league when the Stockton Kings play.