Sunday, July 3, 2011

Mike Lansing Field - Casper, WY

Posted by William Lee Coleman III | Sunday, July 3, 2011 | Category: |

Mike Lansing Field is named after former Wyoming big-leaguer Mike Lansing who played for the Expos, Rockies, and Red Sox in the early 90's.  The park was constructed in 2002 and holds 2,500 fans. The Casper Ghosts play in the Pioneer League and currently are a Rookie League affiliate with the Colorado Rockies. The partnership came about due to the Rockies wanting to escape the hardships of complex ball in Arizona while extending their brand into Wyoming.  The Ghosts were formerly known as the Casper Rockies from 2001 to 2007. An article that I read from a 2010 USA Today about Mike Lansing Field is what originally sparked by interest in attending a Casper Ghost game.

Random Fact: Wyoming is one of three states that does not have high school baseball. Instead the high school boys play American Legion Baseball. The Casper Oilers also play at Lansing Field.

Stadium Rating: D

Mike Lansing Field  is a small park and its uncovered grandstands for the most part are very simple.  The lower levels sit on top of concrete from the third base dugout to first base dugout with plastic seats featuring a cup holder. The plastic seating continues all the way up to the press box from home plate.   The rest of the seating consists of freestanding aluminum sections with some of the bleachers featuring backs. The bleacher seating ( General Admission ) features plenty of leg room and overall was comfortable but the sight lines in some of the bleacher sections are terrible. This is from the backstop in front of the grandstand being poles and netting.  The bleacher section does offer some interesting views: You can see the North Platte River depending on the angle, a couple of hotels on an elevated hill, and the Casper Planetarium on a hillside out in right field.

 The field itself is huge and the large amount of foul territory make you feel even further from the action. The scoreboard is what you would expect to see at a High School baseball game. Oh yea, there is one huge tent that didn't serve any purpose the night that I attended.

The one thing that I did enjoy about the ballpark was the Teton Terraces that allowed me to watch the game on a bar stool behind both of the dugouts. I wish more teams would do this but I noticed something very dangerous about seating area on the first base side. On the 3rd base side, patrons are protected from foul balls by netting. This isn't the case of the 1st base side!  The first base side seating in the Teton Terrace was occupied by the groundskeepers and other workers for the majority of the game. I even watched one of the workers fire up the grill and cook himself some food. This kind of gave the feeling that this was an employee only section and that I was trespassing.

The concourse surrounding the stadium seemed very empty with wasted space. I missed a lot of the game because of having to explore the concourse and it not being a open concourse.  There are rocks along the 3rd base side that are large and high enough sit on that offer a different way to watch the game.  The Gift Shop was very nice and sadly the ATM card machine inside it wasn't working so that meant that I didn't get to experience any ballpark food because the one concession stand under the grandstand doesn't accept debit cards.

Baseball Atmosphere: A

When a stadium has a small basic scoreboard , the PA announcer becomes very important quickly if you actually like scoring the game you are watching or if you happen to be following a certain player. I have heard some PA announcers sound like they were bored  but the Ghosts' PA showed just enough enthusiasm. Lansing Field features one of the clearest sound systems I have heard at a Minor League Stadium. The crowd, for the most part, seemed like they were in the park to enjoy a ball game.

Pricing: D

I purchased a general admission ticket for $7.50 and that is expensive in my opinion for bleacher seating in the Pioneer League.  I purchased a program for $3.00 and a 2010 trading card set for $8.00.  Overall, I could see attending a Casper Ghosts game getting very expensive for a family of four visiting Casper. Only thing that really saved this rating  from being a 1 is the free parking.

Autographing: A

The big dimensions of the concourse play a huge part in making Lansing Field an easy stadium to graph. Both teams enter Lansing Field from clubhouses located behind the first base grandstand. They have two paths to take to the field. The players can enter the field through section 102 and 103 of the grandstand or down by the home teams' bullpen.  I noticed some players in the Casper bullpen running back and forth between the innings to the clubhouse. Some stopped to sign for kids playing in the batting cages.  Both dugouts only offer access to the players on one side due to the backstop netting. If you didn't get all the players before and after the game, the visiting team stays in a hotel located a good 40 yards behind Lansing Field from the team clubhouse and you can catch them walking to the hotel after the game.

I often get asked what I don't like about ballparks.  There are a variety of features that can ruin a ballpark for me.  In the case of Mike Lansing Field,  its simple design makes it feel like a collegiate field and its easy to forget your watching a Minor League Baseball game. It does feature a relaxing setting with some fans and a PA announcer that create a great atmosphere.  I had high expectations of this park based on other fields I had seen in the Pioneer League and the convincing article I read in USA Today.  Though my expectations were far from met this visit, a small ownership headed by the Rockies purchased the Ghosts during the off-season. It will be interesting to see what changes the parent team will bring to Mike Lansing Field in the coming years. 

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