A survey among the eight broadcasters in the Northwest League has revealed their thoughts on the best stadium atmosphere in the league.
1. Spokane – When you average nearly 5,000 fans a night, it is hard to go against the best atmosphere in the Northwest League being at Avista Stadium. For me, it starts with Jamie, the on-field announcer, who bellows announcements as if he is working a Gonzaga basketball game, and ends with the music that plays after every run scored – which seems to be playing over and over and over. One broadcaster mentioned, “Great fans, great place to call a game,” while another mentioned, “When they get a big, big, crowd, it is electric.”
2. Vancouver – The fans at Nat Bailey Stadium are big-league fans, used to going to Canucks hockey games or Lions football games (B.C. Lions, that is), and know how to have fun. The party decks down each foul line are the place to be during each game, while the opposing team gets heckled pretty good throughout (something that doesn’t happen in every city). Throw in the Sushi Race and the massive Diamond-Vision board, and it is a fun place to watch a game. One broadcaster mentioned that, “The view of the city from the roof is amazing,” while another stated, “Vancouver is a world class city and it is my favorite place to visit.”
3. Eugene – I honestly think that historic Civic Stadium might have taken the No. 1 spot in this poll a year ago (it was such a nostalgic place), but the fans at P.K. Park make up for the collegiate atmosphere. In 2010, the Ems added more in-game promotions, utilizing the new video board for in-game excitement, and added themed nights that got the franchise recognition nationally. “Once the fans in Eugene discover that the Ems are playing on the other side of town, the atmosphere at P.K. Park should once again rival that of Civic Stadium,” said one broadcaster. Another said, “I already miss Civic!”
4. Boise – Memorial Stadium is not one of the favorite places for the broadcasters in the league, but they recognized the fans who come out to the games. The Hawks draw nearly 85-90% capacity each night (tops in the league) and have fans who are passionate, resembling Cubs fans – heckling the opponents, booing the Boise players for a bad play. “The view of the Boise Mountains from the press box is outstanding and the crowd likes to get into the game – although more often than not, they are talking into my ambient microphone,” said one broadcaster.
5. Everett – Memorial Stadium in Everett is one of those places that has the old and new – and when the crowd comes out, it is a fun atmosphere. The fans have the old-time manual scoreboard, while the video board was the best in the league until Vancouver installed their jumbotron this year. I think Tom Lafferty is the best public address announcer in the league (and there are some REALLY good PA men in the NWL) and he adds to the atmosphere. “The band-box of a ball park makes for really exciting games for broadcasters and fans,” said one broadcaster.
6. Yakima – The smallest stadium in the smallest community in the NWL, yet I commend the fans in at County Stadium. The Bears fans will stay to the very end every night, regardless of the score and I love when they have the pie-eating contests and the base sweeps – plus they kept alive the “It’s a Beautiful Day for a Ballgame” song alive, now that Eugene eliminated it. “One thing that I enjoy watching is the video montage before the game – usually pretty entertaining,” said one broadcaster, while another said, “Best song in the league is the Yakima Bears Baseball song that is played in pregame – it gets stuck in your head.”
7. Tri-City – The sunshade at Gesa Stadium can only do so much for the atmosphere in the Tri-Cities, as despite increased attendance, the crowd doesn’t get into it. Eric “The Peanut Guy” has a blast and is one of the most creative on-field announcers in the league, and I like the “Show Me the Money” promo, but the fans do not buy into it. “Crowd at Gesa Stadium is ultra-quiet,” said one broadcaster, while another said, “When it isn’t blowing, it is picturesque for a desert basin, but the crowd is way-way quiet.”
8. Salem-Keizer – I can honestly say, there was no atmosphere at Volcanoes Stadium this year, and the other seven broadcasters agreed, Salem-Keizer received a unanimous last place vote in this category. I have always liked the Circling of the Bases by a child before the game – but minimal in game promotions, minimal music between innings, and the hum of the interstate with a silent crowd, was monotonous. “If I lived in Salem, I think it would be more fun to go to the library than to Volcanoes Stadium,” said one broadcaster, while another said, “If you are a mortician, you’ll like Volcanoes Stadium – the atmosphere is as if you are at a funeral.”