Stadium Guide: Fifth Third Ballpark

Didn’t I just do one of these. It was a Minor League Affiliate of the Detroit Tigers that I just visited a couple weeks ago. That was Fifth Third Field that is the home of the Toledo Mud Hens (not to be confused with the Fifth Third Field that is the home of the Dayton Dragons). Visiting parks can be confusing. This was my second trip to the stadium located in Grand Rapids. The first was in 2005. Since that time they have added the Pepsi Stadium Club, and the Miller Lite House deck in the outfield. It really adds to the stadium. I am going to change up how I do these a little. I decided that maybe a little more info on the stadium is needed. These will constantly be a work in progress I am guessing.

The park was built in 1994 in Comstock Park, Michigan. This is just north of Grand Rapids, and is very easy to get to. A quick trip through town on 131, and once get off on exit 91 you just have to cross the street to be in the parking lot. The original name for the Stadium was Old Kent Park, but was changed for the 2002 season when Fifth Third Bank bought Old Kent Bank. After the 2005 season the stadium underwent another renovation when the Pepsi Stadium Club and the Miller Lite House Deck was installed in the outfield. They have an entrance and ticket office outside of centerfield, but the preferred entry to the stadium for me is at the home plate entrance.

Here are some of my thoughts on the stadium. This is a nice park overall. The two additions to the outfield seating area provide extra seating, as well as give the park a bigger look. Even though it is plastered with an advertisement the lighthouse in right center is a nice touch as well. With a team like name like the Whitecaps you need something like this in your stadium. This was also part of the renovation after the 2005 season. One major drawback as a person who enjoys taking pictures are the wires that come down from the backstop screen. They really get in the way of seeing the batter for most of the baseline. This is a minor point that really does not affect my overall feeling of the park. One great thing about the park is the trumpet player that goes throughout the stadium playing the music between pitches. He is constantly trying to get the crowd to yell charge, or get them fired up some other way. This is another little quirk that is just different enough to be cool. No weird sound bytes, just a man, a trumpet, and a vast array of song knowledge. The team also invites back former Tiger players to help boost attendance. This year they are having Tiger Fridays where a former Tiger player appears every Friday. In 2005 they were celebrating the 1968 team by wearing throwback jerseys, and inviting back former Tigers. They really have some nice promotions to draw the fans in.

The scoreboard in center is not flashy, but very functional. This stadium does a great job of updating pitchers and changes in the lineup which is important for someone who keeps score. I have started to take rosters for the teams because of the way some stadiums treat pitching changes. Here they have an old school board in center with a newer video board in left. Both of these are used well to add to the overall enjoyment of the game. The plunger that you see to the left of the board is an advertisement that will move up and down and light up during breaks in the game. It is not the home run apple in New York by any stretch, but the little quirks of each park is what makes them interesting.

Here are some of the ballpark stats:
Single A Affiliate: Detroit Tigers (Midwest League)
Original Cost of Stadium: $6 million
Groundbreaking: May 1993
Date of first game: April 12, 1994
Seating Capacity: 10,071
RF Line: 327 feet
LF Line: 317 feet
CF: 402 feet
Power Alleys: 375 feet
Height of outfield wall: 8 feet
Date(s) of visit: 6/7/2005; 6/12/2009

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