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Ballpark Review: Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu, Home of the Diablos Rojos del Mexico

 Leif Skodnick  |    Apr 25th, 2024 2:20pm EDT

You won’t see many ballparks as architecturally striking as Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu in Mexico City. (Photo by Leif Skodnick/World Baseball Network)

MEXICO CITY – With modern architecture that evokes an Aztec temple, Mexico City’s Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu, the home of the Diablos Rojos del Mexico, will host Major League Baseball’s Mexico City Series between the Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros on April 27-28, is an MLB-caliber facility.

And if you don’t believe me, ask Diablos Rojos’ manager, Lorenzo Bundy, who spent seven seasons in Major League Baseball as a coach with four different teams.

“It’s a Major League park; it just doesn’t have as many seats,” Bundy said before the Diablos Rojos’ second home game of the year against the Tigres de Quintana Roo on April 16.

There are thousands of ballparks around the world. Still, there are none – at least that I’ve been to – as they combine an architecturally-striking design with the functionality of a baseball venue and fan-friendly environment as Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu.

The design catches your eye the minute you see the stadium. As you walk over the bridge that takes you over the Formula 1 racetrack that loops around the ballpark, you’re immediately struck by the enormous white-paneled roof that shades the grandstands and the towers designed to evoke the appearance of the temples built by the Aztec people, who inhabited what is now Mexico City long before the Spanish conquest.

The view from the top of the outfield bleachers at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu. (Photo by Leif Skodnick/World Baseball Network)

Ticket Prices – 5/5 

If you come for a Diablos Rojos game, you’ll be pleased with the ticket prices, which start at MX$146 (about US$9) and go up to MX$585 (about $35). But unlike some cavernous ballparks, there are good seats in Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu. With a capacity of over 21,000, the Diablos Rojos games sell out regularly.

You’ll pay a lot more if you’re coming for the MLB Mexico City Series. A single ticket in the right field bleachers for the April 27 game between the Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies is listed at MX$1,665, or about US$99, the cheapest ticket to get into the series opener.

Access From The City – 1.5/5

Mexico City is massive, and the easiest way to understand the scale of North America’s largest metropolitan area is to fly in at night. The city’s lights stretch out for miles, and the dark spots you see as your plane comes in are some of the 109 mountains that rise from and surround the metropolitan area home to 21 million people.

Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu is located in Colonia Iztacalco, a city borough near Benito Juarez International Airport in the Ciudad Deportiva. While the Mexico City Metro’s Line 9 Ciudad Deportiva stop is a short walk from the ballpark, Line 9 has been under construction, which led to San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler getting lost on his way to the ballpark the day before the opener of the 2023 MLB Mexico City Series.

Metro Line 9 wasn’t running during my most recent trip, so I opted to use Uber to get between my hotel in Colonia Centro and the ballpark. It’s generally going to be about MX$285 each way to get from Centro or Colonia Roma, where many hotels that cater to American tourists are located, to the stadium.

With Metro Line 9 out of service, you might also have a long wait for an Uber after the game. Most of the crowd will walk out towards the Ciudad Deportivo stop, which is really the only place to get picked up by an Uber or a taxi.

Oh yeah, and the taxis—if you aren’t fluent in Spanish or look Mexican, you risk getting a scenic tour of Mexico City and being charged a pile of money for it. How do I know this? I couldn’t get an Uber on a previous trip, and my taxi driver drove me all over the city before dropping me at the hotel for a scant MX$ 1500. I did get to see the Zocalo, Mexico City’s main square, and the Metropolitan Cathedral during the ride!

Concessions – 4.5/5

Tortas, tacos, flautas, wings, hot dogs, pizza, chips, and candy—the ballpark offers a wide selection of reasonably priced concession items and plenty of open concession stands.

I got a hot dog with pico de gallo on a New England-style roll and a Red Cola (a familiar brand of Mexican soda) for MX$185 (about US$11), which is a bargain compared to, say, loanDepot Park in Miami, where a hot dog alone is US$8. The tacos, a staple of concession food at Diablos Rojos games for years, are outstanding, authentic, and worth a try. Don’t miss getting a “machete,” which is a Guerrero-style quesadilla, so named for its size. You can get them with various fillings, and they are delicious.

If you’re thirsty—and Mexico City has dry, dusty air, so you will be—there is no shortage of bebidas to wet your whistle. Sodas and water cost around US$2, and a 24-ounce Tecate, a famous Mexican beer brand, is about US$7.50. For just MX$30 more, you can get a Michelada, a well-known Mexican beer cocktail that includes lime juice and other ingredients in a salt-rimmed cup.

Game Experience – 4/5

Mexican fandom and baseball fandom outside the U.S. are different. At Diablos Rojos games, fans bring drums and organize cheers, some centered around events in the game—for example, a visiting team’s pitching change or the Diablos Rojos getting a runner into scoring position. While there is music piped in, the fans are the ones who create the atmosphere, a pleasant departure from many modern MLB stadiums, where the atmosphere is forced out of speakers that have been turned up to 11.

Overall – 4/5

It’s not Major League Baseball, but the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol is fun and different wherever you go. Estadio Alfredo Harp Helu is worth a visit if you happen to be in Mexico City, and if you’re looking for a change from the ordinary, it’s worth a trip.

Editor’s note: This piece represents the opinions of the author and not those of the World Baseball Network.