Angel Stadium of Anaheim: Baseball Gameday Guide
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Surprising to many, Angel Stadium (capacity 45,000) ranks fourth on MLB's list of oldest ballparks—behind Fenway, Wrigley and Dodger Stadium, its SoCal neighbor up I-5. Trivia Alert: From 1962 to 1965 the then-Los Angeles Angels (the "of Anaheim" tag would come three name changes later) were co-tenants of Chavez Ravine before moving to their brand new Anaheim Stadium digs in 1966.
Owned by Hollywood's singing cowboy Gene Autry, the club changed its name to the California Angels, and Orange County hardball fans now had a team to call their own. Though the park is a geezer by modern standards, "The Big A" has undergone a few major renovations—most recently in the late '90s just before the team finally rewarded its long-suffering fans with a 2002 World Series Championship.
Birthed in 2000 and rising to stardom during that '02 title run was the team's unofficial mascot, the famous Rally Monkey. Angels supporters love him, but don't be surprised if you spot an opposing fan carrying around a stuffed Rally Monkey hanging from a noose.
Sandwiched between I-5 and SR-57, the park's urban location means you've got plenty of pre- and postgame party locales in the immediate area. On weeknights, stadium-vicinity traffic can be brutal (the nearby freeway interchange is nicknamed "The Orange Crush"), so it's wise to get an early start.
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Juan-Calderon via Flickr
The Angels faithful begin pouring into Anaheim restaurants and sports bars about 90 minutes before game time; to beat the rush, arrive a bit earlier. Though a few establishments are within walking distance of the stadium, the area isn't particularly bar-crawl-friendly, so you're best off picking one spot and sticking to it.
WHERE TO GET A BEER
Noble Ale Works | A few blocks from the ballpark, tucked away in a ho-hum industrial park, this craft microbrewery and tasting room thrills beer snobs with some of SoCal's best pilsners, IPAs and stouts. The hugely popular Naughty Sauce is a sweet-n-roasty golden milk stout infused with coffee flavor. Another hit, Tongue Tickles, lays a wonderfully bitter, citrusy, double-IPA on your palate. The place doesn't serve chow, but on game days there's often a gourmet food truck in the parking lot.
WHERE TO GO WITH A GROUP
JT Schmid's Restaurant & Brewery | Across from the nearby Honda Center (home of the NHL's Ducks), JT's is your general issue brewhouse/sports bar serving upscale pub grub to the pregame throngs. The mile-long menu lists everything from sandwiches and pizza to seafood and steaks, so everyone in your gang should find something to soak up the suds. Big spenders, savor the juicy, blue cheese-topped sirloin steak ($21.95).
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD SPOT
Lopez & Lefty's Sports Cantina | This cozy craft-beer joint sees somewhat thinner crowds than other stadium-area spots thanks to its blah strip mall location in the shadow of I-5. That's welcome news for pregame beer guzzlers who live by the motto "I'll have another, and fast." Try the delicious monster Halo Burger, fittingly crowned with an onion ring halo on a stick.
WHERE TO GET ROWDY
Danny K's Billiards & Sports Bar | Orange County bros chug beer, watch UFC fights, shoot pool and shoot off their mouths at this sizeable sports bar loaded with more than 40 TVs. Before weeknight games, the 3 to 7 p.m. happy happy hour ($1 off domestic beer, well drinks and wine) is particularly popular with the bleary-eyed Halo faithful. Sure, the place is on the divey side and the food (burgers, sandwiches, pizza) isn't exactly stellar. But so what? You're here to get rowdy, not write a whiny Yelp review.
WHERE TO HAVE A SIT-DOWN MEAL
The Catch | On the edge of the stadium parking lot, this upscale restaurant/bar sports a classy dining room (think dark woods, leather booths and white linens) where you'll feast on the likes of lobster and Prime steaks. Too rich for your blood? Decked out with Angels memorabilia and TVs, the bar (including patio seating) offers a moderately priced Game Day Menu that includes heavenly jalapeño-bacon bomb appetizers and the mammoth O.M.G. Burger—a whopping 5-pound patty on a 14-inch bun that'll easily feed six people for $64.99.
WHERE TO DRINK LIKE IT'S OKTOBERFEST
Phoenix Club | At this German, Austrian and Swiss cultural center, pretend you're in Munich at its Bierstube pub and restaurant, which offers eight German beers on tap and several more in bottles.
CAN YOU TAILGATE AT ANGEL STADIUM?
Yes, but charcoal grills and alcohol are not allowed; keep that red Solo cup on the DL. The main tailgate scene happens in the stadium's south lots near the towering "Big A" spire.
Just east of the Honda Center, the open-air Stadium Promenade has 10 restaurants (Lazy Dog Cafe and the Tilted Kilt are solid pregame choices) and a multiplex theater.
INSIDE ANGEL STADIUM OF ANAHEIM
Though some of the more dilapidated seats could use replacement (and perhaps a color change from that dreadfully drab green?) and the fuzzy video scoreboard is straight out of 2004, this remains a fine, relaxing venue to take in a game. The stadium staff impresses with its friendliness. And as any ticket grants access to all seating-level concourses, you can choose from the full line-up of concession stands.
WHERE TO SIT
The stadium has clear sightlines from nearly every seat, and even the nosebleeds aren't too bad, provided you're not stuck way down the foul lines. A few obstructed view seats inhabit the 200 sections out beyond the right-field foul pole, where you may not be able to see plays in deep right field. If you're looking to avoid heat stroke at summer day games, seats on the third-base side get shade first.
Angel Stadium Seating Chart
Smoke Ring BBQ | Follow the sweet smell of smoked meat to entrance gate 1 and this busy open-air cue joint. Tender, tasty, house-smoked ribs, kielbasa, brisket and half-chickens will set you back $12-$16, which isn't too outrageous considering the quality. Sorry, Angel Dog stands, the ring has you beat by a mile.
BEST LOCAL VENDOR
Chronic Tacos | A West Coast mini-chain founded in nearby Newport Beach, Chronic attracts Mexican-craving fans to its bustling Field Level Terrace spot (Section 240) behind center field. Assembly-line tacos and burritos (think Chipotle, only far better) are prepped with nicely seasoned meats (steak and chicken) and fresh fixings; a hefty carne asada burrito will run you $9.75.
Draft Pick | Paging all beer geeks. Proceed immediately to the Gate 2 courtyard area (Field Level, behind home plate), where some two dozen microbrews will prompt you to annoy everyone with beer-nerd terms like "sparging," "worty" and "krausening." So, what brewers are on tap? Lost Coast, Goose Island, Fat Tire and local faves such as Hangar 24, Stone and Golden Road. A cup of cold gold will cost ya' $11.75-$13.
WHERE TO EAT HEALTHY
Melissa's Fresh For You | One of baseball's great joys is temporarily ditching the diet and devouring thigh-bulging garbage. But if you insist on maintaining the salad, fruit and hummus regimen, Melissa's has you covered with five stadium locations; the easiest to find are in the Field Level food courts on both the first- and third-base sides.
BEST STADIUM BAR
Coors Light Centerfield Bar | Though you can't see the game from here, it's a chill spot to knock back a cold one, especially during sweltering day games. HDTVs keep you abreast of the on-field action, and the entire back wall features an Angels history/ timeline mural. In addition to its namesake beer, the bar has premium draft brews and Ketel One vodka on tap. Next door, elevated patio tables overlook center field. If the deck's not reserved for a private party, seats are first come, first serve.
OTHER THINGS TO SEE WHILE YOU'RE HERE
The franchise does a nice job displaying its history. In the courtyard near Gate 2 stands a statue of singing cowboy Gene Autry, who owned the club from 1960 to 1998. Next to the Team Store (Field Level, Section 120), a huge glass case holds the 2002 World Series trophy, memorabilia and awards, and a genuine Autry cowboy hat. Nearby, an Angels "Wall of Fame" highlights individual player achievements (Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, etc.).
Either entering or exiting the stadium, be sure to use the front Home Plate Gate at least once. The Walt Disney Co. owned the team for a spell, and the cartoonish legacy lives on in the form of gigantic baseball bats and Angels caps adorning the stadium's front entrance. Kitschy-cool or cheesy-awful? You be the judge.
Angel Stadium Tours
ANGELS GAMES ON A BUDGET
According to the MLB Fan Cost Index, a trip to the stadium ranks a tad cheaper than the league average. That said, don't expect bargain prices ($7.50 for a grilled cheese sandwich?!). Check out these money-saving tips:
WHERE TO GET A CHEAP BEER BEFORE THE GAME
When Angels owner Arte Moreno bought the team in 2003, he famously made a big to-do about lowering beer prices. Does $9 for a cup of Bud sound cheap to you? Didn't think so. Instead, head over to Danny K's Billiards & Sports Bar (near the Honda Center), where domestic draft beers are $1 off during happy hour Monday through Friday (3 to 7 p.m.)
HOW TO EAT CHEAP AT ANGEL STADIUM
Your standard Angel Dog is $4.75, which isn't too severe. Fast-food chains Panda Express and Jersey Mike's Subs have outlets in the stadium, and while their usual prices are marked up for the ballpark, the menus do yield a few fairly reasonably priced items.
CHEAP BITES NEAR THE STADIUM
Most fans who balk at high ballpark prices grab grub at the fast-food joints clustered around the corner of Katella Avenue and State College Boulevard.
BEST CHEAP ANGELS TICKETS
Recently, the Angels jumped on board with that most annoying and confusing of MLB trends: dynamic ticket pricing. What does this mean to you? When the Yanks come to town, you'll pay dearly to attend. If the Halos take on the lowly Astros, Upper View and Left Field Pavilion seats retail for as little as $8. In the best-view-for-the-buck category, try "All Star" seats on the Field, Terrace or Club levels. These sections, just beyond first or third base, are typically priced in the $30-$50 range—sometimes cheaper on the secondary StubHub market.
ANGEL STADIUM WITH KIDS
One of the West Coast's more child-friendly parks, Angel Stadium has plenty to keep the lil' devils entertained.
WHERE TO GO BEFORE THE GAME WITH KIDS
With young kids in tow, stop by the Guest Relations office (Field Level, Section 124) to tell them it's your tyke's first game or birthday, and they'll receive a free Angels goodie.
BEST FOOD FOR KIDS
Available at all hot dog stands, the Rally Monkey Kid Combo ($5) comes with a small Kids Dog, a soda and fruit snacks. For dessert, go for an ice cream sundae served in a mini Angels helmet at the Sweet Shoppe (Sections 103, 124, 232, 412 and 429).
WHERE TO GET AUTOGRAPHS
So, your little slugger wants an Albert Pujols-signed ball he'll be peddling on eBay in 20 years? Arrive as soon as the stadium gates open (usually 2 hours before game time) and hotfoot it to the front railings of Field Level sections 101-103 and 133-135. With a bit of luck, you'll catch the tail-end of Angels' batting practice, when a few players usually jog over to autograph items for the kiddos. Chances of a signature increase for junior fans of opposing teams, who take BP later.
NEED A BREAK DURING THE GAME?
Beyond the outfield, along the Field Level Terrace concourse (Sections 237 and 238), young'uns can try their hand at the carnival midway-style Halo Toss game or a pair of Xbox baseball games; both are free. In the Field Level courtyard near Gate 1, a small grassy area used for live music (presented before all Friday-night games) offers a sweet spot to play a little catch or simply get rambunctious.
WHERE TO BUY GEAR FOR THE KIDS
The Lil' Halos Store by Adidas (Field Level Terrace concourse, Section 237) stocks pint-sized Angels gear, kiddie souvenirs and, naturally, Rally Monkey plush toys in a rainbow of colors.
WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ANGELS GAME
On Saturday nights, a good chunk of the crowd sticks around for the postgame fireworks show. Otherwise, after the final out a majority of fans head for their cars. Parking lot exit traffic can get a bit sticky, but for the most part it's a breeze compared to the nightmares endured by Dodger fans in L.A. The hearty Angels faithful head for stadium-area bars.
WHERE TO KEEP THE PARTY GOING
Tilted Kilt | Yes, you could stumble through the stadium parking lot to the Hooters on Katella Ave, but just the thought of sinking those ghastly chicken wings into a belly full of brew makes us queasy. Instead, do some post-game boozin' at Tilted Kilt, located in the nearby Stadium Promenade complex. There are plenty of TVs to catch the day's SportsCenter highlights and it's open 'til midnight (1:30 a.m. on weekends).
WHERE TO GET A POSTGAME MEAL
Katella Family Grill | All that stadium beer got you craving a greasy patty melt and a mess of onion rings? Hit up this spot for basic diner fare done well. Be aware: if you're attending a night game that's running long, the grill closes at 11 p.m.
WHAT ELSE IS NEARBY?
If the ballpark hasn't emptied your wallet, the nearby Disneyland Resort will be happy to finish the job. A few miles southeast of the stadium, historic Old Towne Orange has antiques shops galore, a handful of outstanding restaurants and bars that stay open till the wee hours.
Orange County-based travel writer Eli Ellison has been attending games at "The Big A" since the 1980s, back when his beloved yet hapless L.A. Rams still played in Anaheim. Nowadays you'll spot him at the stadium wearing L.A. Dodger Blue, greatly upsetting the Halo faithful.