Lindquist Field is a stadium in Ogden, Utah
Spring Mobile Ballpark (formerly known as Franklin Quest Field, and later Franklin Covey Field is a baseball park in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Hammons Field is a minor league ballpark in downtown Springfield, Missouri
Saturday, June 1, 2013
This was the stadium I heard about the less in planning my trip and ended up being my favorite. Ashford University Field is located in Clinton, Iowa and is the home of the Clinton Lumberkings. The Lumberkings are the Low A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, and from what people were telling me during the game, baseball has been played here forever. Overall, I didn't know what to expect when pulling up to the stadium. It sits along the Mississippi River and Clinton is the kind of town that it only takes thirty minutes to learn your way around. It was the only time during my trip that I didn't trust my GPS because the stadium's location didn't seem to fit in with the geography. I would have loved to have visited this stadium before the 2006 renovations but present day Ashford University Field featured what I enjoy about Minor League Baseball with its low key atmosphere and small town feel.
Unlike with my other reviews, I am just posting pictures and will give a brief description of what the pictures are showing and my thoughts on them.
View of the stadium from my parking spot. Parking was free which was awesome but this was the worst parking lot I have ever experienced at a sporting event. It needs to be repaved. Also, a lot of shady characters roaming around while I was prepping cards to be signed inside my car.
I was hoping to grab a couple of baseballs during batting practice but the outfield walls are high at Ashford University Field. No wonder the Mariners get excited about any Mariner prospect that displays power during his Midwest League stint.
I arrived so early and found myself reading all these bricks. Lot of lifetime baseball fans in Clinton.
A very simple Main Entrance.
I have no clue the importance of this clock because it never moved the four plus hours I was inside the stadium.
I don't know why but the area where the starting lineups are posted is the first place I locate inside the stadium.
Lot of autograph seekers looking for Robert Stephenson. Trust me, the total doubled before game time leaving very little room to navigate. The netting didn't help either. I didn't have access to the players from the bullpen until after the game.
I was told that the Lumberkings have a local lady who will lineup pieces of candy and gum behind the on deck circle for the players to enjoy during the game. I looked everywhere for her but did not see her.
The view along the right side of field from my seat. With no free giveaways, I would assume the majority of the crowd were host families.
I despise bleacher seating. While its a nice cheap alternative, its been proven to take up more room then box seating.
I had a hard time getting a good shot of the picnic area because of the people making weird faces or making obscene gestures. You would be surprised what I find people doing in the photos.
Picture of the picnic area and the Lumberkings bullpen area.
View of the berm.
I didn't have access to the Lumberyard but was told it was used to host group outings later in the season.
For the first time on a stadium visit, I didn't take a photo of the scoreboard, this one will have to do.
Talked a good two innings to this one guy out on the berm and thought this picture would turn out better than it did
For the most part, my trip was a great success up until the last 48 hours. From the time I left Pensacola, Florida and landed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it seemed I was staying ahead of the rain by a couple of hours but that would change when I checked into my hotel in Peoria, Illinois on Day 5. It was raining and cold. The day before I was wearing shorts and graphing in eighty degree weather . I had already watched a school day game that day and drove two hours to my hotel. The Chiefs announced that they would attempt to play that night's game but I decided to stick to my original plan of watching the Chiefs in the morning and then heading on over to Kane County for a nightcap. The Chiefs game was cancelled in the 7th inning due to the rain and they announced later on that night that the morning game was also canceled due to poor field conditions. With the weather not looking any better in Geneva, IL, I took a gamble that the Cougars night game wasn't going to be played either and decided to turn in my rental car a day early and headed to Chicago. Sadly, they did get to play the game but if the conditions were anything like I experienced in Burlington early on in the day, it would have been miserable. I got to attend six of the eight stadiums of the Western Midwest teams and took over 400 pictures. I got a ton of autographs along with meeting interesting baseball fanatics and autograph seekers. One thing I realized on this trip is I love baseball but my limit is probably five days at the max. A lot of the burnout came from watching baseball in the hotel room, when I was eating in between games, and managing all three of my fantasy baseball teams on the iPhone at red lights. With the next trip, I am going to have to plan some off days where I either go watch a movie or go visit a local landmark that interests me. For the reviews of the stadiums, they will be simple reviews of what I liked and what I didn't like with a ton of pictures. I should have them up slowly over the next couple of days, depending on work.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers : April 28th vs South Bend Silver Hawks 1:05 pm
Milwaukee Brewers: April 29th vs Pittsburgh Pirates 7:05 pm
Cedar Rapids Kernels : April 30th vs Lancaster Lugnuts 12:05 pm
Quad Cities Bandits : April 30th vs Great Lakes Loons 7 pm
Clinton Lumber Kings : May 1st vs Dayton Dragons 6:30 pm
Burlington Bees : May 2nd vs Fort Wayne Tin Caps 11:30 am
Peoria Chiefs: May 3rd vs Lake County Captains 11 am
Kane County Cougars : May 3rd vs Bowling Green Hot Rods 6:30 pm
Thursday, July 19, 2012
You will find after visiting several of the newer Minor League stadiums, they all start to blend together. This isn't the case with Riverwalk Stadium. Every visit I find something new that sparks my interest. On this trip I got to experience the first major upgrade to the stadium: a new video board and the in-ballpark television system. The video board is now the largest in the Southern League. Sadly, my last trip revolved around me wanting to get Greg Halman, who passed away too early this off season, on a couple of items when he was playing with the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx. I was also flirting with the idea of keeping up with my stadium visits and my first review wasn't all that great and the pictures were disappointing. A 2012 visit to Riverwalk Stadium was a must! Riverwalk Stadium was completed in 2004 and I still wonder what took so long considering I first heard of affiliated baseball coming back to Montgomery way back in 1997. It seats 7,000 with another 4,000 in the picnic area if needed. Riverwalk Stadium is located in downtown Montgomery and is the home of the Montgomery Biscuits of the Southern League. Since their inception into the Southern League, the Biscuits are still affiliated with the Tampa Rays.
Stadium Rating : 5
It doesn't feel like you're going to a baseball game until you are inside Riverwalk Stadium. The majority of the stadium was built around a historic train station. The exterior and Main entrance to the stadium looks old and it should. The train station was over 100 years old! It makes for one of the more interesting entrances in Minor League Baseball. The stadium features a total of twenty suites. Six of the suites are built into the old train terminal along the first-base line and the remaining fourteen extend along the third base line. The balconies to the suites resemble the balconies you see up and down Bourbon Street in New Orleans.
For me, the most enjoyable place in the stadium to watch the game is the Locomotive Loft. This section is on top of the left-field wall which has an operational train track and the Alabama River behind it. The left field wall is elevated about 15 feet above the field and allows you to chat with the left fielder in between plays. I was told the locals call this elevated walkway is called "the bowl" . There was no breeze from the river today. Around the 5th inning, a train came blowing its horn bringing a lot of excited to the kids. The backdrop is of downtown Montgomery.
At the start of the 8th inning, I continued to walk around the "bowl" and watched a inning from the picnic area. Most stadiums have their picnic area in some absurd spot inside the stadium away from the field itself to fill space in my opinion. However, sitting on top of the picnic table to me was just as enjoyable as sitting on the 1st row behind home plate.
The only thing that I noticed that would eventually bother me about the stadium if I was a local is the bar area called the Club Car Bar. During games, its only open for season ticket holders. It has to be one of the nicer looking bar areas I have seen in a minor league stadium. The gift store is stocked well and had a lot of Tampa Ray affiliated merchandise. The children’s playground didn’t look like it offered that much.
I love stadiums that allow free access and for the most part today I was allowed to explore every nook & cranny of this stadium.
Riverwalk Stadium has the feel of a major league stadium and at no time do you need to be reminded that you are at a baseball game. It does offer plenty for the children with short attention spans. The Biscuits can get crazy with “in game” promotions that could distract you from the game. Their mascot is “Monty” (which looks like an anteater) makes no sense in regards to the branding. Music was predictable and the PA announcer does a great job. The PA system is strong and clear. At times, I was wishing for some silence between innings.
I doubt the architect that designed this stadium had autographing in mind but it used to be a gold mine to the autograph seeker. That isn't the case now. Both baselines still have no objects or ushers limiting your access. You still have easy access to both teams' bullpens. The problem now is graphing the lower porch areas near both dugouts. You had access to the players entering and exiting the dugouts. On the Biscuits side, they would even allow me to walk further down the tunnel to get the visiting team walking to their dugout under the grandstand. On my last visit, no one said anything to you if you were in these spots. I am being honest with you that everyone of the game day crew gave me a lecture on where the best place to get autographs. What they were really wanting to say is "you can't be here". The new parking deck also makes graphing after the game difficult. Recent Biscuit call ups will park in the parking deck. Other Biscuits will park in the old parking area. Good luck guessing which exit they are going to use! I attempted to graph the visiting team (Mobile) as they were boarding their bus and they were having none of it.
I do not mind paying for parking if its reasonable and convenient. The original plan was to park twenty yards away from the main stadium entrance but the meter wouldn't go over two hours. I eventually used the parking deck that was being constructed the last time I visited Riverwalk. After four hours in downtown Montgomery, my total parking fee was $3.75. My box seat ticket was $8.00 which is reasonable considering the ushers said I could sit anywhere I liked once inside the stadium. I had two undercooked hot dogs for $4.00 and a souvenir cup drink for $4.50. The Biscuits were giving out free water drinks during the game and that kept me hydrated. I didn't eat a lot inside the stadium because I had planned to eat at Dreamland after the game since is now located across the street from the stadium. I don't usually mention businesses on the blog but do yourself a favor and try Dreamland after a Biscuits game. You will not be disappointed if you like BBQ ribs.
I have lived the majority of my life in Alabama and until this stadium was built, never thought of spending a couple of hours in downtown Montgomery. Even my updated pictures don't show how enjoyable a game is inside Riverwalk Stadium. It is still one of my favorite Southern League stadiums to watch a game. Honestly, even without the stadium, Biscuits management offers what the winning formula is for an enjoyable baseball experience the minor league way. Some teams don’t get it, the Montgomery Biscuits do!
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Hank Aaron Stadium is named after the former All Time Homerun King Hank Aaron and home of the Mobile BayBears, the AA farm team of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The BayBears franchise was originally located in Wilmington, North Carolina under the name of the Port City Roosters. From 1997 to 2006, the BayBears were the Double-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The ballpark opened on April 17, 1997. and can hold 6,000. I have been attending games at Hank Aaron Stadium since 2004 and the stadium really has not changed that much in the past eight years much less the past 15 years when it first opened. It is now one of the older ballparks in the Southern League.
Stadium Rating: 3
Hank Aaron Stadium is one of the more puzzling stadiums to review. Its location leaves you nothing to explore on foot, the backdrop around the stadium is bland, and movement inside the stadium is inhibited by a lack of access. Yet, no one will argue with you that once you enter Hank Aaron Stadium, the focus is on baseball.
The first thing you notice driving up to the Hank is the large of amount of parking and ask yourself why after fifteen years of baseball, have they not added more scenery around the park. The red brick and painted green steel gives the stadium a classic feeling on the outside exterior. One of the things I look for in the concourses of Minor League stadiums is anything referencing the history of the team or famous alumni of the team. Some stadiums have a small portion of references, if any, but inside the Hank you will find stadium seats from old MLB stadiums that Hank Aaron played in and concession stands named after retired MLB stadiums. If you like that kind of stuff, it starts outside the entrance of the Hank and continues in the concourse.
The stadium has a seating capacity of 6000 as well as 22 unique luxury suites. The Hank's biggest oddity is that those suites are at field level. From the VIP suites, you are closer to the catcher than the pitcher. That sounds nice at first, but a lot of the infield action during the game can be blocked by the home plate umpire. The seats from which the majority of fans will view the action on the field are on top of the suites or in the lower sections down the baselines. All seating is of the green fold down chair and the stadium features zero bleacher seating. Seating behind home plate is tight for my 6'2" frame but the rows get better the higher you go up in the sections. There’s too much netting altogether in the Hank which creates some terrible sight lines.
With the suites at field level, that means the Hank has an closed concourse. If you decide to visit the bathroom and concession areas, you're going to miss a lot of the game. My favorite place to sit is under the umbrella seating outside the Stadium Club Terrace during day games and under the press boxes behind home plate for night games. If you plan on attending a game with little kids, bring a blanket and watch the game from Baybear Mountain. They can burn off some energy rolling down the hill.
The stadium is starting to show its age. The white board they use to post the team lineups was a mess. Signs need to be repainted. The scoreboard is pitiful. It has seen better days and is inadequate when compared to its current Southern League counterparts. It doesn't even serve its purpose for the BayBears when they are doing in between inning promotions on it. I am not that picky about bathrooms at sporting events but the malodorous bathrooms at the Hank scare me. I don't see how "Going Green " relates to not addressing the bathroom altogether.
For kids, the Hank offers an area called BayBear Beach, which is a picnic area that comes complete with an inflatable water slide, a beach volleyball court and a field-level view. All the amenities to stop kids from watching the game. It is open to the public after the first pitch.
One of the newer additions to the Hank is the new "Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum" which opened in the spring of 2010. It alone is worth arriving to the Hank an hour early and taking a tour. It features artifacts and memorabilia from his career and childhood.
Baseball Atmosphere: 4
This rating really doesn't come from this visit. I have attended some games during the summer with only 49 people in house which is expected considering Mobile is a football first sports city. The majority of those 49 at times are scouts or work in baseball in some capacity. Some of the more interesting conversations I have listened to about baseball have come inside the Hank. However, today was a School Day game with the first pitch scheduled for 11:35 AM and these kids were quiet which made it very dull. The Baybears have been doing the same promotions what seems like forever. I always enjoyed the “Beat the Bug Race” which is now "Beat The Bear Race" which features the BayBears mascot racing a kid around the base paths. I actually missed Clarence "The Dancing Man " while out in Utah. Nothing like an old man pelvic thrusting three feet from a middle aged man at eye level to the beats of " Who let the Dogs Out". Seriously, I am jealous of how much baseball Clarence has actually watched and when he is not trying to get you to dance its interesting to hear some of the things that he has experienced inside the stadium. The BayBears do an excellent job of providing a superb mixed of old classic music hits and ballpark favorites you should know.
Hank Aaron Stadium is a pain in the ass to autograph. You're not going to be able to graph both teams before the game. The BayBears have a very short walk from their locker room to their bullpen to their dugout due to the first baseline being very short for a modern ballpark. You have no access to the BayBears bullpen area unless you get the attention of the players to come to you which is a good 20 yard walk for them. If the Baybears don't win the game, the bullpen players aren't coming any closer to you. You only have access to the Baybears dugout on the right side of the dugout. The visiting team enters the field from right field and has to walk across the field to the 3rd base side. Once they are half way across the field, they then can decide to either continue to their bullpen or to their dugout. You have great access to the visiting team’s bullpen if you are standing along the 3rd base side in the BayBear Beach area. Your only access to the visiting team’s dugout is on the left side of the dugout. After the game, the ideal place for autographs on the BayBears side is to the far right of the elevated terrace on the right side of the tarps. It is very hit or miss due to the small space, but it’s the best place. Both the visiting team’s bus and the BayBears parking lot are gated. If you can't call players out in street clothes or if you have large items, its going to be fruitless for you.
Ticket prices for a BayBear game still seem to be highest in the Southern League. Field Level seats are $15.00 and your basic box seat is $7.00. Parking is $3.00 and my general admission ticket today was $6.00. Concessions are not cheap with a 20 ounce drink being $3.50 and a one topping micro hot dog for $2.50. Concessions feature your standard baseball items: hotdogs, peanuts, nachos, and beer. I was planning on trying the Turner Burger but the vending station that sells it was not open on this visit. No items on the concourse menus are over $6.00 but the Stadium Club restaurant is expensive for what they have to offer. A tour of Hank Aaron's stadium is free with your ticket up to one hour before game time. One of the things that bothered me the most with this visit was with my scorecard purchase for a $1.00. I purchased one with the expectation that it would come with a printed roster for both teams. It didn't.
The Hank does not offer a whole lot to the non baseball fan who does not enjoy watching baseball. Set your expectations correctly and you will be fine. Even though I complain a lot about this stadium, I always find myself watching a game in it. The stadium's greatest amenity is the product on the field and that’s the best reason to visit The Hank.