It’s an All-American summer ritual: sitting in the stands at a baseball game, rooting for the home team with peanuts and popcorn. But nothing, not even the fact that your team may be on a losing streak since the late ’90s, can ruin your lazy summer day in the bleachers faster than an unexpected summer downpour. Rain is a main reason why baseball games get rescheduled. If less than half a game is played when heavy rain starts falling, the umpire declares it a “no game.” Fans go home disappointed and the stadium strikes out on additional ticket and concession sales.
WeatherBill, a company that pays businesses for disruptive weather, has determined the five best cities for baseball weather. WeatherBill used ten years of data from 96 cities with Minor League teams. The best baseball weather cities average less than one “rainy day” (a day when the rain is over 0.25 inches) during the season (April to September), meaning they have a very low risk of having a rain-out.
1) Lancaster, CA: The JetHawks
Located 70 miles north of Los Angeles, Lancaster averages less than one day of rain during baseball season, making it WeatherBill’s number one city to catch a summer baseball game. Its Class A Minor League team, the Lancaster JetHawks, play their games at Clear Channel Stadium and have attracted over 2 million fans to the venue since moving to Lancaster in 1996. With almost 3,000 seats sold on average per game, it’s fortunate that game days are almost certain to be fair.
2) Bakersfield, CA: The Blaze
Bakersfield has had a city Minor League baseball team since 1941 when Sam Lynn Ballpark (famous for being built backwards-meaning that the sun sets in the batters’ eyes) was constructed, and the California League was founded. The Bakersfield Blaze, the current hometown team, takes full advantage of Bakersfield’s location at the southern end of California’s Central Valley with its warm sunny skies and record number of clear days.
(Bakersfield is no stranger to “best weather cities.” It came in as number 8 on the Farmers’ Almanac’s best weather cities a few years ago.)
3) Yakima, WA: The Bears
The only city to break the Golden State’s dominance on our list, Yakima’s sunny weather has given it the unofficial nickname “The Palm Springs of Washington” (which appears on a billboard on the way into the city). The lack of rain is great news for the Yakima Bears, a Short Season Minor League team affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The city completed its 3,000 person stadium in 1993, and in 2003, celebrated having the Bears’ one millionth fan pass through its gates.
4) Stockton, CA: The Ports
As one of the driest cities from July through September according to WeatherBill’s 2007 study on rainfall trends, Stockton gets less than one day of rain during baseball season on average. The city’s new stadium, unofficially known as Banner Island Ballpark, sits on the waterfront leading to the city’s deep-water port and provides the city’s Class A Minor League baseball team with its name. But the waterway also provides the ballpark with the Delta breezes that make Stockton’s frequent hundred degree weather somewhat bearable during the summer, ensuring that the more than five thousand fans that fill the stadium to capacity will stay comfortably cool.
5) Fresno, CA: The Grizzlies
Fresno averages less than one day of rain during baseball season according to WeatherBill’s research. Those sunny days mean good games for the Fresno Grizzlies, a Triple-A Minor League team affiliated with the San Francisco Giants, and good revenue for the city too. Fresno recently launched a downtown revitalization project to create a “Sports Town” themed street connecting Chukchansi Park, home of the Grizzlies, and the Fresno Convention Center’s Selland Arena, which hosts a number of other sports. The city is planning to spend another $3.5 million on “Sports Town” according to the city’s proposed 2009 budget. With that kind of budget money devoted to Fresno sports, the low possibility of rainfall means thousands of people will attend each game. The stadium broke a new record in an exhibition game last March when 14,084 people attended.