Photo Blog: El Paso’s Ballpark

The Rainiers lost to El Paso on Monday night, 4-3, and it was their fourth straight one-run loss. Tacoma has lost blah blah blah… let’s do a photo blog!

Southwest University Park is the newest stadium in the PCL. El Paso imploded the old city hall building and built this beauty right smack in the middle of downtown. Let’s take a look. Note: click on any photo to enlarge it.

We have been entering on Durango Street, which has a clock tower with stained glass going up to the clock.

 

Entrance. The stained glass rises up to a clock tower (not pictured due to author incompetence)

Entrance. The stained glass rises up to a clock tower (not pictured due to author incompetence)

 

As a radio guy, I go up to the press level on the top floor (the players go down to the massive locker room in the basement of the stadium – no photos of that, but it is spacious and well-appointed).

View from the radio booth

View from the radio booth

See those structures in right field? The one in right-center is two levels of group picnic seating with the visiting bullpen on the ground floor. The one down the line actually has two restaurants inside of it. Here’s a closer look:

A city street runs directly behind these - pedestrians can watch the game through the fence and bullpen.

A city street runs directly behind these – pedestrians can watch the game through the fence and bullpen.

You can see the yellow line above the bottom floor – that’s a home run line. Over the yellow, it’s a dinger. The decks actually jut out over the field of play – hit a deck, get a homer.

Walk outside my booth, and we are on a suite level. I went down the hall and found a suite marked as belonging to the Foster family, and seeing how I was originally hired to work here by George Foster I figured I should let myself in. The door was unlocked.

This is a bad photo - the suite has a full island-style bar, a food service area, and lounge furniture.

This is a bad photo – the suite has a full island-style bar, a food service area, and lounge furniture.

In the suite level hallway, they have non-baseball art featured.

No baseball here! Just art.

No baseball here! Just art.

Some of the art appears to be slightly team-related.

Wall of Chihuahuas

Wall of Chihuahuas

The suite level hallway has floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over Juarez, Mexico.

The stores in colored buildings to the left of the cathedral are in Mexico.

The stores in colored buildings to the left of the cathedral are in Mexico.

No photo, but driving to the park we saw the massive border fence, and the dried-up bed of what was once the Rio Grande.

I went downstairs to the club level, which is anchored by a very large and very busy bar.

This bar hops once the game opens. Those windows look out over the field.

This bar hops once the gates open. Those windows look out over the field.

I shot the stadium from the club level seats.

Looking back at the suite/club levels from down the third base line.

Looking back at the suite/club levels from down the third base line.

Left field corner - poor Chihuahuas radio guy has to say Pizza Porch all of the time.

Left field – there was a rooftop party on top of that building on Saturday night. Fans sit on the grassy berm.

Moving down to the main concourse level, I was impressed by the design which allows a huge amount of standing-room positions. However, the concourse is not very wide and gets jammed with traffic when the gates open.

From the concourse, you have to go down a staircase to get to the box seats.

Stairs from the concourse down to your box seats.

Stairs from the concourse down to your box seats.

The railings along the concourse are above the box seats, and fans line them and watch the game.

You can stand at this rail right behind the dish.

You can stand at this rail right behind the plate.

I took this next shot from the front row behind the dugout, looking up toward the main concourse. The concourse is behind the 107 railing.

This alignment provides new signage opportunities, as you can clearly see!

This alignment provides new signage opportunities, as you can clearly see!

The concourse has traditional food stands and also some carts offering more dangerous fare.

Get yer poisonous Juarez Dogs here!

“Get yer poisonous Juarez Dogs here!”

They have a really cool item for sale: a helping of nachos, served in a plastic doggie bowl with the Chihuahuas logo on it. Take home the bowl and use it to feed the dog. You gotta admit, that’s pretty good.

Like most newly constructed ballparks, you can completely circle the field on foot. I walked out to left field.

If you are standing here and get hit by a ball, it was fair and a homer.

If you are standing here and get hit by a ball, it was fair and a homer.

Everywhere you look in this ballpark, there is one of those ankle-biting Chihuahuas confronting you.

End of each row of seats.

End of each row of seats.

Presiding above couches on the club level.

Sit here if you dare.

Sit here if you dare.

These little dogs are even menacing me in the secret back stairway I’ve been using to avoid traffic and get from the top floor to the clubhouse quickly.

Creepy.

Creepy.

I couldn’t find one Monday while I was taking pictures, but I swear I saw some trash cans with Chihuahuas painted on the side of them.

One aspect of this stadium that I was blown away by was the pure amount of space in the underground clubhouse level. They have massive storage closets – gigantic warehouse-sized spaces to store extra merchandise inventory, crates of upcoming promotional items, huge areas for janitorial staff and supplies, and a massive two-level better-than-the-big leagues indoor batting cage.

All-in-all, this is a Top-5 PCL ballpark. I haven’t decided where to rank it exactly, just yet. It definitely boots Fresno from my No. 5 spot. Can it pass No. 4 Albuquerque? How about No. 3 Salt Lake? I don’t think it can jump No. 2 Memphis or No. 1 Oklahoma City right now, although if the powers-that-be continue to let the top two to get ravaged by wear-and-tear, El Paso could move up.

It’s a great park. I’m not going to suggest going to El Paso for a weekend getaway, but if you happen to be here during baseball season for some reason, you should definitely go to a game.

Tuesday’s game starts at 5:35 (Pacific) – the Alaska Airlines Pregame Show begins at 5:20 on South Sound Sports 850 AM and streaming online right here. Tacoma starts RHP Taijuan Walker (0-1, 12.00) against El Paso RHP Keyvius Sampson (2-4, 5.82).

Walker is slated to throw roughly 85 pitches tonight. After his “thank goodness he feels healthy and who cares what happened in the game” start last time around, I think all parties involved would like to see some nice on-field results in this second rehabilitation start.

Links:

  • I wrote the Rainiers game story for The News Tribune. Tacoma lost by one run, again.
  • El Paso manager Pat Murphy is suspended for three games. He started serving it last night, so hitting coach Jacque Jones is handling the Chihuahuas.
  • Today the Mariners officially recalled Erasmo Ramirez, and optioned Nick Franklin to Tacoma. Franklin will be a huge help to the Rainiers offense – I suspect he’ll join the club Thursday for the home series against Albuquerque.
  • Kyle Seager went bonkers, Felix Hernandez pitched a gem, and the Mariners made the Yankees their whipping boys on Monday night. (author’s note: that was a fun sentence to type!)
  • Apparently Bob Dutton was the only Mariners beat writer to make it to New York City for the one-game makeup. Here is his always-informative Mariners Notebook. This link includes a section on upcoming Mariners roster moves which could have a big impact on the Rainiers.
  • A reminder for you to vote for some Rainiers for the PCL All-Star Team.
  • At Low-A Clinton, Mariners prospect Austin Wilson is starting to hit with authority.
  • On the field in the PCL, Fresno dropped first-place Sacramento for the second straight day, 5-2. Eduardo Escobar had an outstanding start to beat a Fresno local who was suited up for Sacramento.
  • Las Vegas picked up a 6-4 win over Reno, with help from reliever Zach Thornton.
  • Albuquerque scored nine runs in the fifth inning but still had to play hold-on baseball to beat Salt Lake, 11-8.
  • Oklahoma City blasted Memphis, 8-1, despite losing slugger Jon Singleton to the big leagues.
  • Gonzaga product Clayton Mortensen was dealing in Omaha’s 7-1 win at Round Rock.
  • Burly New Orleans slugger Justin Bour homered twice in the Zephyrs 4-3 win at Colorado Springs.
  • Highly-regarded Brewers prospect Taylor Jungmann tossed a gem and Nashville beat Iowa, 4-1.
  • This long piece on Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully is just fantastic.

That’s all for today. Wednesday is the June PCL off-day, so no blog post. We’ll be back with something fresh before the nationally televised Rainiers home game on Thursday.

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One Response to Photo Blog: El Paso’s Ballpark

  1. Merrillific says:

    Awesome stuff. You’re the best, Mike…

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