The worst part about living in Ventura, California for me, a devoted fan of Minor League and independent baseball, is that the closest ballpark is 90-100 miles away. The Long Beach Armada
is the closest team mileage-wise, but is nearly an hour and a half away in clear traffic, two to two and a half, maybe three hours away in normal traffic. Needless to say, in the two summers that I have lived here, my baseball consumption has been next to nothing.
Finally, I bit the bullet. I couldn’t take it anymore, I needed to see a minor league baseball game. Having been to an Armada game last year I wanted to go somewhere different. The Lancaster JetHawks is the next closest team, only 110 miles from my home. I have been avoiding Lancaster because of the heat of the Antelope Valley (the last time I thought about going it was 106 degrees at game time), but on Saturday it was a manageable temperature and I had absolutely nothing else to do.
Clear Channel Stadium
couldn’t be more convenient. It sits right next to I-15 out in the middle of nothing. There is a movie theater and a Jack In the Box across the street, but other than that, there is nothing else there. Parking is ample, there is a free lot right across the street or you can shell out three dollars to be 100 yards closer.
The outside of the ballpark is pleasant, but nothing special. The only thing that makes it interesting is the full size NASA jet that dwarfs the ballpark’s entrance. I doubt there is another ballpark in the country that can boast a jet mounted outside it’s gates. The funny thing is that nobody seemed to notice the darn thing. Here in Lancaster, the home of Edwards Air Force Base, it’s just another airplane. Big freakin’ deal.
The best part about the Lancaster JetHawks game? It’s cheap. I paid eight dollars and sat in the second row right behind the on deck circle close enough to snap this picture of Ka Boom, the JetHawks popular mascot. I don’t typically like sitting that close or being behind the screen so I moved around, but every seat I sat in was worth at least eight dollars. Also, you have to love two dollar beers at the portable beverage carts on the concourse. You also have to love concessions workers nice enough to tell you about those two dollar beers when you try to buy a four dollar beer elsewhere. It is without a doubt the best value I have ever found at a minor league game.
Another thing that I really liked was that for once, I wasn’t the only person keeping score. It was a small crowd, but the people who were there seemed very interested in the game. They were knowledgeable and well informed about their team and there were numerous people scoring along. People who score along typically pay better attention to the game and know the situations. It’s a dying art form that I would love to see resurrected.
There were also many negatives. The in-between inning promotions were the worst that I have ever seen. No imagination, poorly announced and dull. In general, the entertainment was below-below average. The music and videos selections were awful (except for one Harold and Kumar clip), there were multiple mistakes on the video board and with the click effects, and Ka Boom did nothing but walk around and sign a couple autographs. They have had 100 games to hone their craft, it’s about time that they made it look professional.
Also, the staff was totally anonymous. There were a handful of people who may have been ushers, but they were hard to spot (despite bright yellow shirts) and didn’t seem to be friendly with the crowd. I feel strongly about good ushers and noticeable, friendly staff members. There are so many opportunities during a baseball game to offer great customer service to your fans and I didn’t see any effort made by the staff to take advantage of these opportunities. I also didn’t see any of the staff rush up to see if anybody was injured after foul balls. There were a few close calls, someone needed to go check. If there were a legitimate injury, the response time would be forever because of the usher’s lack of attention to these details.
Overall, Clear Channel Stadium is a decent place to see a game. Because of the value, if I lived in Lancaster I would be there all the time. Actually, if I lived in Lancaster I would be working for the team attempting to improve the entertainment and customer service and giving the fans even more value by putting on a great show to accompany their passion for the game. Until someone does that though, Clear Channel Stadium is only worth a look if you are in town, but isn’t worth a special trip.
I reviewed the JetHawks retro logo
over a year ago and I really liked it. Unfortunately, their ballcap and secondary logos are pitiful. And if this isn’t the ugliest warmup jacket that you have ever seen, please let me know. I can’t imagine that it could get any worse than this.