I started these with a good idea, but then turned it into a project so big that it was taking way too long to finish. I will just take a simple look at stadiums that I have been to, and give my opinion on some of the key factors that would make it worth going to. I think the best one to re-launch this feature on would be Fifth Third Field in Toledo, Ohio.
This field is the home of the Mud Hens of the International league. This is what a minor league park should look like. If you wanted to you could watch the entire game from the street outside the park beyond the outfield. This is very similar to the Mud Hen’s parent club the Detroit Tigers. This stadium has enough to get you to go inside though. The picture above shows the view from the third base line. You can see the right field scoreboard along with ‘the Roost’ out in right. ‘The Roost’ is sometimes reserved for parties, but Sunday I was able to go right up and sit down. You can rent this out to watch a game. The seating that is shown if for your party, and they have rooms inside that you can also use. Below ‘the Roost’ is the main gift shop which is huge for a minor league club. Part of the charm of this park is the fact that they incorporated the older buildings into the park. I have included a panoramic picture taken from ‘the Roost’ above this section. In this paragraph are the views from the 1st base side as well as from behind the plate. In both of these views you get a good look at some of downtown Toledo. This park was very well designed to give you the maximum view no matter where you are sitting. Fifth Third Field is very visually appealing.
The park even allows you to walk around the outfield while the game is going on and still see the game. This concourse includes picnic areas as well as a kid’s zone that is located behind the batter’s eye with plenty of activities for kids too young to be entertained by the game. Fans can be seen throughout the game waiting out on the outfield concourse for a home run ball to take home as a souvenir. A few fans even went home happy. On the left field concourse they have the statue to the right of a group of children going after a fly ball. It is called “I Got It”, and shows exactly what going to a game should be about. In the background you can see the fence that separates the stadium from the street outside. Not a large barrier to stop you from seeing the game. During the game I noticed lots of people lingering outside catching a couple of innings. They were also in a lot of the windows and cat walks around the stadium taking the game in.
Fifth Third Field also has a great variety of food for a minor league stadium. They of course have hot dogs and other ball park food, but you can get burgers, fries, cotton candy, and just about anything else that is fried. On both the first and third base sides you can also get an hot fudge sundae in a Mud Hens batting helmet. This helmet will go proudly with all of the other helmets that I collected as a kid. Looking at all the Major League teams I start to understand why I had to wear ‘Husky’ pants as a child.
Getting to 5/3 Field is not hard at all, and the parking seems to be very easy to come by. Most fans seem to try and find parking on the streets, but I paid $5 and parked less than half a block from the field. In a new city that seems like the best route to go. The park is located a short drive from I-75 which makes getting in and out easy.
No guide would be complete without talking about the scoreboard. Here in Toledo they have two of them. For the most part both boards show similar items when their is no action on the field. When a player is at bat though the left field board shows his picture and name. The board in right does the same, but the far right is the current lineup for the team at bat. They both have very new looking video screens that have a great picture. The picture on the right is of the board that is located in left field, and the picture on the left if of the right field board. Could I have made that any more confusing? The frames of the scoreboards are very similar in style, and they compliment the park nicely. The boards entertain, and they also give you all the information you need to watch the game. Travelling around to different stadiums I have noticed that at times it can be very hard to keep score. They don’t really help you out with substitutions on their boards. If you don’t catch the name over the P.A. system you are done. Here in Toledo you constantly have the lineup of the team at bat. This is a very fan friendly park.
Most of my minor league games have occured in Independant league stadiums, or for single A ball so this stadium really impressed me The people who work their are very nice, and were very willing to let me move around as the game went on. I sat just about everywhere that you could to take in this beautiful stadium from every angle. Most stadiums I visit once to say that I was there, and then never really think of going back. This stadium is located just under three hours from my house, and I am already planning another trip back. During a three hour game I fell in love with the park.
Fifth Third By the Numbers:
Date of Groundbreaking: 2001
Date of first game: April 9, 2002
8,100 cubic feet of concrete in stadium
Left Field:32o feet
Center Field: 412 feet
Right Field: 315 feet to 375 feet
Seating in Stadium: 8,943
Seats in the Roost: 282
Dates of Visit(s): 4/26/2009 and 5/31/2009