As Reno hosts its first triple-A baseball game inside the city's spanking new 10,000-seat stadium, baseball fans and community leaders alike are on the edges of their seats.
The Reno Aces ball club (www.renoaces.com) is not only a bold step forward for the Northern nevada sports scene, it's a major gamble for city leaders and taxpayers. With millions of dollars already invested in making the stadium the center of an entertainment district slated to include stores, restaurants and nightclubs, there's a lot more at stake than the team's record in the league.
But for visitors and locals alike, opening day marked the birth of a whole new reason to come to town. While Reno has cobbled together several pro baseball teams in the past, the Aces are probably the first not in serious danger of losing to the local university squad. They are the real deal, and the prayers of fans looking for a taste of professional sports without the big-league hassle have finally been answered.
For now, though, there's a down side: The highly anticipated stadium district has yet to rise from the industrial area around the stadium. Downtown Reno is nearby, though, as are a number of favorite Reno restaurants, landmarks and other points of interest. Here are some places to prepare for a day at the ball game, or kill some time afterwards.
First things first: The stadium is located on Second Street near Evans Avenue. It's pretty hard to miss, but a parking space may not be so easy to come by, so get there early to scout around. If you don't mind the walk, most nearby casinos offer free parking, and most streets are metered. Visit the Aces' Web site for a downloadable map of parking areas. The park offers standard stadium fare, but no outside food is allowed except for sunflower seeds and peanuts.
Assuming you want something a little more substantial, check out Louis' Basque Corner at 301 E 4th St, two blocks north on Evans. A throwback to the region's early days, Louis' serves cow tongue, lamb chops, pork loin and other no-nonsense meat dishes family-style, so expect to pass a lot of dishes around. A great, unique place to fill up with your buddies or family before hitting the stadium gate.
Nearby, Bertha Miranda's Restaurant and Cantina (336 Mill Street, www.berthamirandas.com) has been serving traditional Mexican food in a cool mission-like dining room for more than 20 years. While it's a matter of some debate whether Bertha herself still runs the kitchen, the Miranda family is definitely still in charge, making this a strong choice for pre-game enchiladas or post-game margaritas. Bertha's also has an extensive breakfast menu featuring such dishes as steak and eggs and fried beans.
Normally we don't highlight major chains, but who are we kidding: The closest Starbucks to the stadium is at 538 S. Virginia St. The intersection here is especially confusing, so watch for cross traffic even if you have a green light. Next door to Starbucks is Ceol (www.ceolirishpub.com), a moderately authentic Irish pub offering live music, dart boards and an eclectic whiskey selection.
As long as you're in the area, you may want to visit the two Reno arches. The current arch spans Virginia Street near Commercial Row in the center of downtown, while one of the former arches has been moved to the area of 10 S. Lake St. Even if you're just in town for a game, either arch is worth a picture, if only to see the famous "Biggest Little City in the World" tagline.
Those looking to extend the evening after the game can simply head west on Second Street a few blocks to reach downtown Reno. For a more unusual venue, try The Underground (555 E. Fourth St., www.clubunderground-reno.com), which hosts everything from raves to rock shows to poetry slams. If you keep heading east on Fourth from there, you will soon find yourself crossing Victorian Avenue, the entertainment district of Reno's sister city, Sparks. This is highly recommended for repeat visitors who feel that they have "done" the Reno nightlife before.
And the Sparks Hometowne Farmers Market (www.ci.sparks.nv.us/living/com_events/farmers_market), held most Thursdays June through August, will allow visitors to head straight from the ball game to Victorian Square for a full-blown block party. There are worse ways to spend a summer day than experiencing two of the best events in the state one right after the other.
Article written by Matt Farley. Farley is a Nevada native who has worked for the Reno Gazette-Journal and Nevada Magazine and been syndicated by The Associated Press, Gannett News Service and the Las Vegas Review Journal.