If you live in the Inland Empire and enjoy Angels baseball, there’s no reason to drive to Anaheim with the Inland Empire 66ers right here in your own back yard. With low prices for tickets ($2 to $10) and parking ($4), skip the drive down the 91 and keep it local with much of the same fun.
As of the 2011 baseball season in the Inland Empire, there has been a swap of affiliations in the Inland Empire: The RanchoCucamonga Quakes are now affiliated with the Dodgers, while the Inland Empire 66ers are now affiliated with the Angels. The 66ers could not be more pleased, proudly sporting red jackets and Angels logos throughout the stadium.
On the night we visited, one of the many promotions were being offered: 66ers sleeved blankets. The only way to ensure you receive the promotion is to buy season tickets, as you’ll either receive one at the game or have it mailed to you. Those with single game tickets are left to fend for the rest, so be sure to show up early (perhaps earlier than you might think). The hot promotional item for the 2011 season is the Ken Griffey, Jr. Spirit bobblehead on Saturday, April 23. There are many other weekly promotions, including Thirsty Thursdays ($1 – 10 oz. Bud and Bud Light – up to two per person, per trip to the beer stands).
For those who haven’t been to the Arrowhead Credit Union Park, it was built in 1996 and shows little sign of aging. Much like the upper decks at Angel Stadium, the food vendors are behind the seats, so be sure not to leave at any crucial moments in the game or you may miss the action. The venue seats about 5,000, with a potential for 7,000 including the lawn tickets. On the night we attended, several thousand were in attendance, despite the chilly weather- a good sign for their hopes of improved attendance in connection with the Angels. The private skyboxes were impressive, with custom interiors to match the interests of their owners, which include the San Manuel Band of Indians, Loma Linda University and many other prominent local organizations.
The 66ers do a great job of keeping the crowd excited. Our personal favorite is Bernie, the upbeat mascot that we caught in this candid photo having the same fun behind the scenes with staff that he has with fans down at the game. The dance team performed well and were glad to interact with the audience before and during the game.
The food and drink offerings are tasty and the prices are pretty much on par with what you might expect at a minor league game. The hot dogs were quality- Hebrew National ($5.25)- and the park includes a fast food Mexican take-out spot, providing no shortage of food options. The beer selection includes not just Bud and Bud Light, but also Orange Wheat and Alt-Bier from neighboring Hangar 24 in Redlands on tap ($8.25 for a 16 oz. cup).
Overall, the 66ers exceeded our expectations for a fun experience. If you haven’t been recently, check out the 66ers again as this season promises big things with the new Angels affiliation. If you’ve never been before, find a friend, family member or date, as this won’t disappoint.