Avista Stadium, Spokane, Washington

Avista Stadium, Spokane, WASHINGTON

Number of states:  1
To go:  49
Number of games: 4
First game:  July 4, 2003 (Yakima Bears 13, Spokane Indians 7)
Most recent game: July 27, 2019 (Spokane Indians 2, Vancouver Canadians 1, 10 innings)

Can’t think of a more appropriate day to start the Minor League Ballpark Quest than the 4th of July, or a better way to start

it than on a road trip with the cool and awesome girlfriend Michelle.  And get this:  it was her idea. I had a think-out-loud moment where I said I wanted to go to a minor league game in all fifty states, and within minutes she wanted to do a road trip.  Michelle’s a bit of a baseball fan–competitive in my fantasy baseball league and a former employee of a minor league team, so she likes spending some days at the ballpark.  So I was glad to have her come along to get things going.

They’ve done nice work in Spokane with Avista stadium.  I’ll admit they started with a fairly lame promotion…the will-call window is inside a pickup truck.(Get it?  The ticket pickup window?  Yeah, I know, lame.)  But once you get inside, there are multiple positive attributes to the stadium.  For starters, they have a real sense of minor league baseball history.  There’s an entire museum exhibit with the

history of minor league baseball in Spokane.  Two things I did not know:  one, Spokane was the Dodgers’ first farm club after moving to Los Angeles, and that Maury Wills and Steve Garvey and other folks played there, and Tommy Lasorda managed there.  The other is that the Spokane Indians were the victims of the worst accident in American professional sports history when nine members of their team perished when their bus slid off a snowy road in 1949.  I like that there’s a little baseball museum inside the park to teach me stuff like that.

Other nice bits about their fantastic pavilion were clear listings of the lineups (and the fact that I wasn’t the only one copying them),

some fine music, programs for only a buck, and energetic hawkers.  Once I got into the stadium, I found a similar situation to Everett Memorial Stadium in that there were section leaders, mostly perky and attractive college kids,  welcoming you, telling you their names, and volunteering themselves to help in whatever way was necessary.  It made for a fine experience.  In truth, the only drawbacks to the experience were the game (Spokane gave up 8 runs in an endless sixth inning) and a few fans with anger management problems.  Some bastard kept yelling at the umpire during Yakima’s big inning, saying “Ladies and gentlemen, our home plate umpire, born and raised in Yakima!!!”  Does he think he’s clever?  Does the think he’s interesting?  Is he aware how stupid he looks?  Chill out, man, it’s the minor leagues.  If the ump’s bad (and he wasn’t), he’ll be gone soon enough anyway, and this idiot fan will be getting an ulcer about something else.

But I won’t let that override a fine experience, with multiple mascots (Otto the “Spokane-a-saurus”–decked out in patriotic duds and a white beard!–and a woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty), a bunch of promotions, and free American flags.  The latter

led to a pretty funny moment–Spokane’s right fielder, Brandon Simon, ran out to his position with a flag in his hand in a patriotic gesture, but appeared (to me) to realize, once he was out there, that he had nowhere he could respectfully put the flag.  So, after a second of aimlessly meandering with his flag, he had to run back to the dugout to hand it to a teammate.

Also, Spokane looked to me to be a fine place–a place I could imagine living happily if ever I decided to leave the big city.  Nice riverfront walk–a good place to spend the evening watching fireworks.  It was a much smaller city than I’d imagined…I know it’s the biggest city between Seattle and Minneapolis, but of course, I never stopped to think how little else there is between Seattle and Minneapolis.  But it felt cozy.

A great place to start the ballpark quest!  I imagine, when I finally cross the 50th state off and finish my quest, when I’m middle-aged and graying, it’ll still be near the top of my list.


Regional feel:  9/10
The museum and the outfield view combine to make this a very high score.

Charm:  4.5/5
It felt just right.

Spectacle:  5/5
Lots of wacky promotions–which I like in the low minors–and none interfered with play.

Team mascot/name:  3/5
Multiple mascots, but “Spokane-o-saurus?”  Please…probably done right about the time of Jurassic Park. And I’m PC enough to be bothered by the nickname “Indians.”

Aesthetics:  5/5
Lovely views and a good-looking stadium.

Pavilion area:  5/5
Again, the museum was perfect, diverse food options…a great feel.

Scoreability:  4/5

Fans: 3.5/5
Lighten up, guys!

Intangibles:  4.5/5
The crappy game didn’t help.

TOTAL:  43.5/50


Spokane’s Andrew Wishy gets 4 hits, including a home run, in a losing cause.  Kevin Richardson also homers for Spokane.  Jamie D’Antona homers for Yakima.  The top of the sixth features 8 runs, 7 hits, two errors, three walks, a hit batsman, a passed ball, and a balk.  That there is short-season A baseball!

The 2013 game ended on a 3-2 pickoff of the tying-run-on-first.  I hadn’t ever seen that before:  it was an awesome way to end a game.

Peter Van Gansen of the Tri-City Dust Devils hits a walk-off single in the 10th inning to lead the Northwest League to victory over the Pioneer League in the first Northwest League/Pioneer League All-Star Game.  You bet my family headed out there to see it…it was a splendid experience. Nice kids signing autographs.  Spokane Indians (like, members of the actual tribe) doing a traditional dance to start the festivities to show their ties to the team. Teams wearing uniforms with the team names listed in Spokane Indian language.  And my second home run derby.  It’s far more fun to watch a home run derby in person.

Written July 2003. Updated April 2016.

One thought on “Avista Stadium, Spokane, Washington”

  1. paul Post Author

    I visited Avista Stadium again in 2013, wondering if I would need to adjust the score from this first breathless review. I did adjust the score…upwards. Incredibly, the place was even better than I remembered.

    First, there was a huge display about the team’s relationship with local Native American tribes, including a cool T-shirt of the “Indians” logo written in a Native tongue. Liked that.

    But what I was most impressed by was how wonderful every single employee was. The Indians certainly have a knack for finding affable, outgoing, kind, helpful people of all ages and hiring them to work at the ballpark. This was most in evidence when they had their post-game kids-run-around-the-bases event. I think every single employee except players and coaches were on the field to make sure kids didn’t deviate from the path before and after home plate. Every usher (dozens and dozens of them) high-fived every kid as he or she passed by. A mascot waited on every base to cheer on or high-five the children. And when Aaron, my 2-year-old, decided he’d had enough just after second base and I had to carry him the rest of the way, the recycling-guy mascot on third remarked “A noble effort!” as we passed him by.

    I was smiling the whole way home. There’s no other way to say it other than that the Spokane Indians get it. They don’t interfere with the product on the field, and yet they offer way more than that. They have earned their post (as of this writing) as tied for the best minor-league ballpark I’ve had the privilege of seeing a game in.

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