Saturday, July 20, 2013

Community Field - Burlington, Iowa- Burlington Bees

Posted by William Lee Coleman III | Saturday, July 20, 2013 | Category: |

Community Field was one of three stadiums on my trip that I was really looking forward to yet it was the most disappointing. It could have been the chilly weather or the bland backdrop of the stadium. It could have been that it was a School Day game or that I was willing to drink hot chocolate with a hot dog. My general consensus is that there are no bad baseball parks but Community Field comes close to it for me . Community Field was completed in 1973 and has gone through many renovations. It is home of the Burlington Bess that are entering their first year of affiliation with the Los Angeles Angels in the Midwest League. Burlington is the smallest city to host a full season affiliated team in Minor League Baseball. I was told this stadium holds 3,500 people but I don't believe it. This stadium has changed the way I look at my past visits and will influence my future write-ups. 

 I parked literally 15 yards from the box office thirty minutes before game time and was seriously wondering if I had read the schedule wrong. Nothing going on outside the stadium to indicate that it was game day.

 Community Field has poor sight lines everywhere that follow you around the stadium to the point that I found myself spending more time on my cellphone and wishing the game would have gone by quicker. If its not netting blocking your view, its the support poles. I never seen dugouts block the view of the infield from several seating areas along the baselines in a stadium like I saw inside Community Field. I seen pictures to this stadium before the renovations inside the gift store and its like they never addressed these problems.

 My seat was basically a metal bleacher and after an inning of baseball, I quickly moved to one of the box seats which offered very little leg room. It got so bad that I was contemplating sitting out along the first base side picnic area but didn't due to the wind and view not being much better.

 The concourse helped set the tone by offering nothing entertainment wise and producing some rather boring pictures.


With all the history of Minor League Baseball in Burlington, the only historical references to that history was found in the gift shop. I spent a good three innings in the gift shop due to the coldness. It was filled with a ton of a kids making any good pictures impossible.

 The scoreboard was basic and no berm seating. Overall, probably the most baren affiliated ballpark in which I have watched a baseball game.

Pricing: 3

Parking was free and the lowest ticket offered to me was $8.00 because the game was almost sold out since it was a School Day game.  Due to how cold it was, I only had a cup of hot chocolate for $2.00. I tried to buy an old baseball card set from the gift shop but was told they were for display purposes only.

Baseball Atmosphere: 2

The kids provided some entertainment but their enthusiasm at times would have been better suited for a football game. This didn't feel like a Minor League baseball game for me. I normally do not pay attention to the mascots but I saw none during my time in the stadium. I don't remember any on the field promotions during this game which was odd.

Watching the usher named  “Dancin’ Bobby sign autographs and dance for the kids was more entertaining than the game itself. The music was loud and only fueled my headache.

Autographing: 1

Obtaining autographs at Community Field looked like it was going to be easy but that was not the case.  Both teams enter and exit their clubhouse which is attached to the dugout thru the concourse on opposite sides of the stadium. I tried to get the visiting team players pre-game while they were getting snacks from the concession stands. The majority told me it was too cold to be signing autographs and that they would look for me when they were warming up on the field.  Even coaches like Jose Valentine that have signed eight items for me in the past at once waved me off. Access to the players on the fields during warm-ups was terrible because of the netting and fencing. Along the 1st base side, I literally had to go onto the field to stop some players at a fence opening only to be told "not right now". You have no access to either teams pitchers once they make it to the bullpen due to the chain link fencing extending all the way down the outfield fences.  

 The night before this game, I attended a game in Clinton and was told by other graphers I could tag along with them to get future Hall Of Famer Omar Vizquel in Burlington. Mr. Vizquel signed a baseball for me 10 minutes before game time and signed another one after the game. He along with Trevor Wilson was the only Burlington autographs I got due to me focusing on the Tin Caps afterwards. The visiting team's hotel was located across the street and the players had to walk to it after the game.

My lasting memory of Community Field is going to be the canopy covering the grandstand and kids asking me if I could give them a dollar. While its a nice clean community ballpark, it doesn't offer much in the terms of entertainment and its design makes it's biggest sell point, the game, very hard to watch. The day of my visit to Community Field was the coldest day on my trip. The players didn't want to be there, the employees didn't want to be there, and after two innings I didn't want to be there. I usually don't mind going to School Day games but this was my worst experience with the promotion.Would warmer weather have effected this review and my experience? Probably not due to the bland design of the ballpark, its location, and the Bees' ho hum take of Minor League Baseball.

Currently have 1 comments:

  1. I have been attending games (probably 100, considering Mother's day, Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor day each year since 1987) at this stadium since my Sister and her husband moved there in 1987, and more so after my Mom retired to there in 2002, to be near my niece and nephew. My experience is 100% opposite of yours. I've been to 2 games so far this year.

    When my mom attended games with me, we always sat in Box seats (maybe 6 rows of them between the dugouts). When I've been to the games by myself, with niece, nephew or brother-in-law, I've tended to get a GA seat and hang out along the wall down left field, right in front of the Bee's bullpen.

    I choose this location because I'm a pitching geek. I pitched semi-pro ball until I was 28, and had a 6 game comeback at 38, in a Chicago area Over 40 league. My season tickets to the White Sox for the last 6 of my eight years (2003-All Star Game, 2005 WS win) were Section 159, Row 8, #1&2. Those seats were exactly 5 feet from the bullpen phone, and 8 feet from the back rubber of the 2.

    My niece was able to gather almost 20 Bees autographs at the first game I took her to, because we got there 1 hour before the game and hung out at the outfield end of the Bees dugout. We met a player who told us to meet him at the player entrance to their clubhouse, 10 minutes after the final pitch, and he took the ball inside and passed it around the clubhouse for us.

    GM Chuck is one of the nicest baseball people I've met in my lifetime of visiting minor league stadiums. I've been to 16 or 17 MiLB stadiums, and 13 MLB stadiums in my lifetime. Community Field is historically important to MiLB, I believe it is the only remaining community owned and supported stadium in affiliated minor league baseball. The only Midwest league stadiums I've not visited, are Kalamazoo and Ft. Wayne. I went to my first MiLB game when I bought a 10 game pass to the Kenosha Twins in 1979, for $47, hot dog and coke included with each of my 10 games. I had just ought a 125cc endure motorcycle and used to ride up from Northbrook IL, to Kenosha to catch a few innings of a game, eat my hot dog and drink my coke. I could leave at 6pm, catch the first pitch, and usually leave in the 7th or 8th inning and make it home by my 10pm Summer curfew, when I was 16 years old.

    I also lived in Greensboro, NC in 1999, and attended 20 or so games at Memorial Stadium (at the time, the oldest continuously operated affiliated minor league stadium, it was ~100 years old when they tore it down a few years later.

    I suspect you are more interested in the amenities of the ballpark than the history, charm or even the game on the field. As for Community Field, after the reconstruction in the 2000's, the playing surface is as good as I've seen at any level of minor league baseball, or college baseball, and I've seen it shed water and recover better than a few major league stadiums I've visited in my lifetime.

    I'll really miss Community Field when my mother passes, as 250 miles is a long way to drive for a game. I am in love with that stadium, ownership and staff of the Bees.

    For the price of my tickets, I often choose to arrive after the game has started, and I walk the parking lot and the one West of the field, where I've collected a dozen foul balls over the years. I got one each, each of my 2 visits this year alone.

    Thirsty Thursdays, two 16 oz. PBRs, a brat, tips for the beer, and my GA seat, cost me $17 dollars. At Comiskey park, that doesn't even get me in the door, much less 2 beers. The gently used baseball I found under a car's front bumper in the parking lot, probably would cost me $6 alone.

    Your review of this stadium saddened me. You somehow missed all the good points of Community Field, the Burlington Bees, and the whole wonderful experience I've enjoyed 100 or so times in 28 years.

    John E
    Chicago, IL