Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hammons Field - Springfield, MO

Posted by William Lee Coleman III | Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | Category: |

ast week I had the opportunity to watch a Springfield Cardinals game at Hammons Field while traveling to a wedding. I decided to take a break from driving and watch the Cardinals play a game against the Tulsa Drillers. The Cardinals currently serve has the Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Although my visit inside the stadium was very brief, it was well worth it. Hammons Field is located in downtown Springfield, Missouri and is a little off the beaten path but still easy to find. The stadium seats around 8,000 and was completed in 2004. It is estimated that it cost around 30 million to complete the stadium and was completely funded by John Q Hammons who is a local businessperson. The Cardinals also share the stadium with the Missouri State University Bears.

Stadium Rating: A

The 1st thing you will notice driving up to the stadium is the exterior is made of brick and features brick towers along the baselines. The stadium features a 340 degree outfield concourse that ends in right field that features both bleacher seating and grass berm seating. Yes, that is right. Not a full 360 degrees for some odd reason. In dead center, the batter’s sight line is a cluster of pine trees which I have never seen in a stadium. Where the outfield concourse ends, you can see a little bit of the fully furnished indoor practice area and a small baseball field along with a building that serves as a business office. Luxury boxes are located down the 1st base line and behind home plate. You can find the party deck along the 3rd base side which features the Redbird Roost which requires a ticket for access. I did not find any obstructed view seats throughout the stadium, but I imagine it is hard to find a shaded area during a day game.

My only problem with the concourse is the area behind home plate. Here you will find several counters that allow general admission ticket holders to stand while watching the game. The counters are appealing because they provide cup holders and are tactically placed around beer and food vendors.The designers of the stadium probably thought they were making good use of some open space but all it does is add more congestion in the concourse. The groups that formed around the counters resulted in it being difficult to get to and from my seat because my seat was one row below the counters. The counters also made the concession lines confusing because you could not tell who was waiting in line or who was just chatting with a friend. I imagine it is hard to navigate from one side of the stadium to the other with a full house. Hammons Field features one of the larger jumbotrons I have seen in a minor league baseball stadium. The scoreboard reminds me a lot of a scaled down version of the jumbotron at Turner Field.

One of the oddest quirks about the stadium is that it features a basketball court in the kids play area along the 3rd baseline. Gift Shop is one of the nicer ones I have seen in the pass four years and the picnic area is in a great place to watch the action on the field although it not angled correctly. This caused a large portion of the infield to not be visible depending on your seat. My bleacher seat behind home plate was enjoyable and comfortable because it provided plenty of leg room and had a concrete wall to lean back on.

Autographing: A

Autographing inside Hammons Field is very easy regardless if it’s the visiting team or the home team. Each night at Hammons Field, several players are stationed at the gate entrances to greet fans and sign autographs, as the gates open. Players are sometimes available by the home dugout on the first base side before and after the game, and are available to sign as time permits. This perk is usually only offered to season ticket holders or one or two days a year at most stadiums I have visited.

The best place and only place you need to be for the visiting team is on the 1st Row of Section N along the 3rd base dugout box area to the far left. The visiting team has to walk down a long corridor into the stadium from their locker room. This does not give any of the visiting players the impropriety to avoid you. You can graph either side of the corridor but you have more room along the dugout box area then in the grass berm area. If you missed one of the visiting teams’ bullpen players, you have easy access to them along the outfield concourse from their bullpen. It is elevated but very easy to toss a ball to the players for them to sign. For the Cardinals, you have access to the players on either side of the dugout. The Cardinals bullpen is located to the right side of the dugout boxes along the 1st base sideline. It doesn't get any easier then this.

Baseball Atmosphere: A

You do not need to be reminded that you are at a baseball game and you can quickly forget that you are attending a minor league baseball with the fans sporting Cardinal red. You could tell for the most part that the fans were there to see the Cardinals of the future and to enjoy a baseball game. For a Thursday night crowd, it was packed. I did not really get to watch a lot of the in between inning activities because I was exploring the stadium.

Pricing: D

Ticket prices range from $6 to $23.50 depending on your seat location. The $23.50 ticket is for the Redbird Roost which is a special section that features an all you can eat menu that features no beer. I choose the $6.00 ticket which was for general admission. I was told that this ticket was for seating in the grass berms in the outfield and for the bleacher sections located in certain areas throughout the stadium. I sat on the bleacher behind home plate and thought the view was no different then the $11.00 seats five yards in front of me. I choose to park in the Holiday Inn Express parking lot across the street for free. $7.00 for parking is absurd. I got a pretzel for $3.50 and a bottled Diet Coke for $2.50. I could see how attending a game for a family of four could get very expensive for the family on a budget.

Overall, this was an easy stadium to review because there was very little to complain about and I only got to explore the stadium for about five innings. For those thinking about a road trip to Hammons Field, it is a must. Just do not pay for parking!

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