Best of the Northwest League – Best Stadium

The fifth and final Best of the Northwest League (from 2010) is the top stadiums in the circuit.  I polled each of the broadcasters in the league and they came up with the list – not surprising to me.

 1.  Avista Stadium – The largest stadium in the league gets the top honor, as the Spokane Indians have led the league in attendance every season since Portland moved their franchise to Vancouver.  The spacious outdoor concourse level does not have a few of the field, but gives fans plenty of room to maneuver.  Recent upgrades to the seating bowl, the addition of the Grotto (homer porch), a kids park, and the Depot dining car have made it a destination place.  One broadcaster said – “Fair dimensions, cool features, excellent playing surface,” while another mentioned, “I love the new Depot in right field and it’s a great atmosphere with the fans.”

 2. Nat Bailey Stadium – The oldest park in the league has climbed the charts dramatically over the past five years after major renovations have improved fan experience at Vancouver Canadians games.  Expanded concessions and an updated concourse have spruced up The Nat, while the roof of the stadium covers well over 50-percent of the seats.  Throw in one of the best video boards in all of professional sports and it makes going to a C’s game fun.  “Excellent video board and tons of history,” said one broadcaster, while a second mentioned, “Great classic ballpark and best video board by far.”

 3. P.K. Park – The newest yard in the league replaced possibly the most historic, as the Eugene Emeralds moved this past season from Civic Stadium to the new home shared with the University of Oregon.  The stadium is the only one in the league where you can get concessions and still be able to see the action, plus the luxury suites give the Ems staffers an advantage most teams don’t have.  “Great place to watch a game with a great picnic area down the right field line,” said one broadcaster, while another mentioned – “You ought to be able to get a nice park for 19-million dollars!”

 4. Gesa Stadium – Another stadium that has steadily been improving since the Tri-City Dust Devils were purchased by the Brett Brothers.  The addition of the Sun Shade on the first base side has been a money-maker for the organization, as attendance has skyrocketed over that time, while upgrades at the stadium – bringing fans closer to the action, has also helped.  “Park is improving from where it was a few years back,” said one broadcaster, while a second said, “Looks great, but it is easier to score runs and hit homers in the Astrodome.”

 5. Everett Memorial Stadium – The yard shared with the Everett School District is a unique park in the NWL, as the Everett Aquasox truly have a home field advantage – playing 38 games a year with a short porch just 340 feet away in right center.  However, the Frogs have an outstanding variety of concessions for fans, a seating bowl that is close to the action, and a trio of mascots to keep fans entertained.  “Great view of the Cascade Mountains,” said one broadcaster, with another mentioning, “A downtown ballpark and a nice video board.  Playing surface is also improved, but loses points for the short porch in right.”

 6. Memorial Stadium – One of the older stadiums in the league that is in dire need of a facelift, as the Boise Hawks have played in the Garden City stadium since 1989.  A unique seating arrangement allows all fans to be right on top of the action – but the lack of shade on the first base side has hurt attendance during the summer.  The popular Hawks Nest, along with the diamond club and kids park make the facility family friendly.  One broadcaster mentioned, “Used to be a great park in the early 90s, but new ownership gutted it in 2000 and left a wasteland in its wake,” with another saying, “It’s on life support.”

 7. Yakima County Stadium – The smallest park in the league with the lowest attended games – yet can be loud every night for the Yakima Bears.  A new video board in left has improved the park, while the concessions are among the best in the league, with nice promotions keeping fans entertained. “ Aluminum bleachers and foot stomping can definitely make up for a lack of fans at a game,” said one broadcaster, while another stated – “Nothing has been done to this park since it was built in the mid-90s, the torn banners on the third-base side say it all.”

 8. Volcanoes Stadium – A six-month building process netted the city of Keizer a new ball park in the 90s, but not much has changed for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes over the years.  The lower seating bowl is right on top of the action with great sight-lines and the grass berm down the left field line is nice, but the lack of atmosphere at the yard is the biggest flaw.  “It took them less than six months to build it and it shows – cinderblocks,” said one broadcaster, while another mentioned, “Bland, with a great view of I-5 with piped in truck noise says it all.”

 Overall – in taking the broadcasters voting over the five categories (Best Hotel, Press Box, Stadium, Pre Game Meal, and Atmosphere) – the list of the franchises in the loop went as follows –

 Spokane 262 points, Eugene 244, Vancouver 211, Everett 182, Boise 163, Yakima 136, Tri-City 133, Salem-Keizer 73.

 Thanks to the 2010 NWL broadcasters for their help and support of this project.

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