Explore Lake Elsinore's The Diamond
Welcome to The Diamond, where the Lake Elsinore Storm float on with some of the wackiest promos in Minor League Baseball while Padres prospects lure San Diego fans and mascot Thunder the Dog steals the spotlight.
Lake Elsinore Storm (Affiliate of the San Diego Padres since 2001)
Ballpark: The Diamond (opened 1994)
League: Low-A West
Notable Alumni: Bengie Molina, John Lackey, Francisco Rodríguez, Jake Peavy, Xavier Nady, Oliver Pérez, Clay Hensley, Chase Headley, Wade LeBlanc, David Freese, Corey Kluber, Hunter Renfroe, Luis Urias, Eric Lauer, Chris Paddack
Championships: 1994, 2011, 2018
Over their relatively short existence, the Lake Elsinore Storm have established a reputation as one of the most creative teams in the Minors.
With off-the-wall promos like Charlie Sheen-co De Mayo, Donut Tread on Us Night (in reaction to the Ariana Grande anti-America donut controversy of '15) Rated R Night, Nothing Night, Everything Night and whatever's left in between, Lake Elsinore will try anything in the name of fun at the ballpark.
The Storm also once regularly offered a warning track race between a fan and a very fast Storm employee in a squirrel costume, and it was the Storm who hosted a home run derby on the deck of the U.S.S. Midway in San Diego Bay.
500 Diamond Drive,
Lake Elsinore, CA, 92530
Dimensions: right field, 310; center field, 400; left field, 330
Begun as the Redwood Pioneers up in Sonoma County in 1980 and having made a run as the Palm Spring Angels, the Storm blew into California's Riverside County in 1994 to land in Lake Elsinore, a city on the eastern foothills of the Santa Ana Mountain Range, about 35 crow-fly miles east-southeast from Anaheim and 65 crow-fly miles north-northwest from San Diego.
The Storm were an Angels affiliate until 2001, when they began their current affiliation -- with the Padres.
The seating bowl in The Diamond has views of the city of Lake Elsinore (at night, the lights can be pretty) and the Temescal Mountains in the distance. Facing away from the ballpark on the upper-level concourse or the parking lot, the Santa Anas and the eponymous freshwater lake -- the largest natural one in Southern California -- are visible, depending on your vantage.
Distant vistas, however striking, may prove hardly noticeable when you're sitting down for a game at The Diamond. The unique promos and wacky atmosphere aside, it's a safe bet the Storm have a great product on the field.
In recent years, the Padres have boasted a disproportionate tally of baseball's most electric prospects. Some of these, naturally, have come through Lake Elsinore. Chris Paddack's stock skyrocketed with his performance there in 2018. MacKenzie Gore and Luis Patiño were both there in 2019 and were Top 100 Prospects. Robert Hassell, the No. 8 overall pick of the 2020 Draft, played the bulk of 2021 with Lake Elsinore.
Seating at The Diamond is steeply pitched, giving the ballpark a bit more of a big league feel than some of the older stadiums in the league.
A broad concourse extends from foul pole to foul pole. Along the right-field line is a hilly berm, where kids engage in all manner of horseplay.
Near the opposite flag pole is The Diamond Taproom, a place to grab a bite and some booze, which was renovated during the 2021-2022 offseason. Near the Taproom along the left-field line are two lower-level outdoor seating areas. The ballpark also has 11 luxury boxes.
The Storm are known perhaps most widely for their logo, a pair of eyes that are as ubiquitous at The Diamond as they are ominous to the opposition. Ever watchful, the eyes peer out from behind home plate, from the hats atop players' heads, T-shirts on fans in the stands, and even from the floor of the men's room.
Thunder the Dog is annually named his league's Mascot of the Year. The fact that he bestows this honor upon himself detracts only little from the likelihood that he deserves it.
Arguably more than any other mascot in the Minors, Thunder has perfected the art of being uproarious and boisterous without speaking a peep. His confidence and mischievousness come across in his swagger.
Over the years, he's been complemented by a slate of secondary characters, including Mini Thunder -- a pint-sized mainstay who's exactly what he sounds like.
The Diamond Taproom, which features an in-house distillery and an assortment of local and craft beers, also offers reasonably priced upscale eats that don't betray the spirit of ballpark dining -- think very elegant nachos, hardy salads, elote fries, creatively topped burgers and decadent deserts.
Although the Diamond Taproom is indisputably the first spot in the park to check if you're looking for something special, it shouldn't be the last. On top of standard concessions at stands throughout the concourse, in any given season you might find that the Storm have partnered with a highly regarded local bakery or barbecue joint.
Across the lake from The Diamond, fans can use Launch Pointe as a, well, launching point for aquatic adventure. Boats are available for day use, as is a launch for those who show up with their own vessel. An onsite tackle shop offers guidance and material goods for fishing -- Lake Elsinore is stocked with largemouth bass, crappie and catfish. Launch Pointe also includes campsites, a restaurant and a venue space for weddings, reunions and such.
With the Ortega Highway running from Lake Elsinore to San Juan Capistrano, the city is a popular spot for motorcyclists traveling Southern California. It's also home to the dirt bike race known as the Elsinore Grand Prix, which marked its 50th anniversary in 2018 and in which actor Steve McQueen participated in 1970. The race is typically held during baseball's offseason, but a mural celebrating its grit and glory is viewable year-round at The Wreck, a local saloon.
Additionally, Lake Elsinore features a couple of acclaimed municipally run skateparks, including the 2015-built one in Serenity Park, which is a multi-use public outdoor space. A 25-minute drive from The Diamond also brings a traveler to The Southern California Railway Museum in Perris, California, which is a must-visit for the train enthusiast of any age.
If various types of heck on wheels aren't your speed, you'll be able to find lots of alternatives in the nearby Temecula Valley, which boasts dozens of wineries and a thriving arts scene -- including multiple live performance venues and the chance to catch "Shakespeare in the Vines." Some may want to plan their ballpark trip around the schedule of the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival.
Opportunities for outdoors adventure, be they based in the lake or the surrounding mountains, abound.
Food and drink
There are a number of great eats right in town, including the aforementioned Diamond Taproom, which is open Thursdays-Sundays throughout the offseason.
Guadalajara Mexican Grill & Cantina, established in 1986 and family-owned, has a large menu of high-quality takes on traditional fare and an impressive offering of top-shelf tequilas. Across the street from Guadalajara, Vero's, established in 1989 and family-owned, is worth checking out, too -- especially for breakfast and, on a hot day, their homemade frozen treats. These are only two of several great Mexican restaurants in Lake Elsinore.
Wolfee Donuts, site of the Ariana Grande controversy that inspired the Storm's award-winning Donut Tread on Me Night, deserves to be as famous for its creative and indulgent treats.
Annie's Cafe is a classic diner with a loyal clientele and good food at reasonable prices.
It's possible to stay at the aforementioned Launch Pointe -- either in your RV or in an on-site yurt or vintage trailer -- and travel across the water to arrive at The Diamond. The Storm have plans, in fact, to offer ticket packages that include that transportation.
Hotels (including the storied Lake Elsinore Casino) dot both sides of the 15 Freeway in Lake Elsinore, and there are camping options (from barebones to upscale) in the surrounding mountains and throughout the Temecula Valley.
If for you a California road trip evokes images of waking up near the Pacific, you'll want to check out the hotels and vacation rentals in Dana Point and along Capistrano Beach, about an hour's drive from The Diamond.
You've likely already factored in trips to Petco Park, Angel Stadium and Dodger Stadium, but you won't want to miss visits to the Storm's nearby Low-A West division rivals: the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Dodgers affiliate) and the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels affiliate).
If you're headed to the Bay Area, consider a meandering route with stops to catch the Visalia Rawhide (D-backs), the Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies), the Modesto Nuts (Mariners), the Stockton Ports (A's) and the San Jose Giants.
The Road to San Diego
One of five Low-A West clubs who play more or less a straight shot from the home of their parent club, the Storm typically graduate Padres prospects not to San Diego but to Indiana (where they join the High-A Fort Wayne TinCaps). The next two stops are in Texas -- the Double-A San Antonio Missions and Triple-A El Paso Chihuahuas.