This is the 10th post in my 2012 “Down on the Farm” series that chronicles visits to various minor league parks throughout America. (Prior articles, including the entire 2011 edition, can be accessed here.)
Growing up a San Diego Padres fan, minor league affiliates were far from consistent.
Currently the team’s Triple-A situation is quite in flux with Portland out of the picture and Tucson in — at least for the remainder of this season However, there is some stability in San Antonio, where the Friars have called Nelson Wolff Stadium home since 2007.
The ballpark, with a capacity of 6,300, opened in 1994.
Though parts seem outdated to some, the stadium is still a clean, comfortable place to take in a game — with good sight lines (no poles or nooks and crannies to impede your view), clean walkways and excellent fans.
Located roughly 10 miles west of downtown, parking is easy, though it can run $5. However, tickets, food and parking are discounted on various nights, and military personnel receive special offers.
Aside from the historic Alamo, Spanish Missions, and Army Forts, San Antonio is home to multiple Air Force bases, and jets soaring into and out of nearby Lackland Air Force Base can be seen beyond the outfield wall.
Texas heat obviously plays a factor through much of the season, but a high, long roof keeps most of the concourse in shade by the 7 p.m. first pitch. A nice breeze also blew in from center field of this symmetrical yard when I attended.
Wolff Stadium’s concourse stretches across the foul lines with picnic areas on both sides and a grassy berm beyond the fences. Most seats are bench style, sans the first eight rows closest to the field, which have backs.
While the Missions sit in the lower half of the league in attendance — with a season high of 7,200 on July 4 — I was impressed by the crowd of 2,830 on a steamy Monday night.
Fans were very involved in the game against Arkansas, standing in crucial moments. This came as a relief after years of visiting newer downtown ballparks, where most 20-something fans often attend mainly to drink alcohol and “be seen” before hitting more bars by the 6th or 7th inning.
Missions’ fans seemingly pay admission to watch baseball. And they were rewarded with a 2011 Texas League crown and a win when I visited.
Though it contains numerous luxury suites and a spacious press box, “The Wolff” is not new like its Texas League counterparts up in Frisco, Springdale or Tulsa. But the Missions put on a pleasant display with a great old school feeling and an involved atmosphere.
And as someone who’s seen nearly every Major League Stadium and more than 100 in the Minors, I personally appreciated it.