A day or evening at the old ballpark is all about sitting back with a hot dog and cold drink and watching America’s pastime, enjoying the company of friends or fellow travelers. Compared to the majors, minor league baseball offers a more intimate experience in a more family-friendly setting – at a much more affordable price. Toss your cares away and step up to the plate for a memorable group outing.
Fort Wayne TinCaps at Parkview Field
Fort Wayne, Indiana
The TinCaps, the High-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, draw an average of 6,000 fans a game to a retro style brick ballpark previously voted best Class A park by Baseball Digest. Parkview Field boasts one of the largest video boards in minor league baseball and offers groups a variety of seating options, from suites and a picnic pavilion to left field’s Home Run Porch with padded seats and waiter service. Besides four concession stands, there are 18 carts peddling everything from Mexican specialties to cheesesteaks. The Treetops area across the street, modeled after the rooftop buildings overlooking Wrigley Field in Chicago, offers and all-you-can-eat menu. (fortwaynetincaps.com)
Toledo Mud Hens at Fifth Third Field
Dozens of group spaces are available at the 8,943-seat ballpark and in Hensville, a collection of historic Warehouse District properties next to the field. Hensville boasts new suites and rooftop viewing areas, two restaurants, and new party and banquet spaces. Popular group spots at the field include the Home Run Terrace, with three tiers of picnic tables in deep right and left field, and the Fowl Pole Patio in the left field corner. The Mud Hens are the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The mascots, Muddy the Mud Hen and Muddonna, represent the marsh bird that inhabited the area around the original ballpark. (mudhens.com)
Indianapolis Indians at Victory Field
The 14,200-seat stadium, located in downtown’s White River State Park, has been named “Best Minor League Ballpark in America” by Sports Illustrated and Baseball America. The Indians franchise has been around since 1902 and today is the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Former players have included Randy Johnson, Paul Konerko and current Pirates star Andrew McCutchen. Ballpark tours are available. (indyindians.com)
Iowa Cubs at Principal Park
Des Moines, Iowa
Chicago Cubs fans from throughout the Midwest flock to Iowa’s capital city every summer to watch up-and-coming stars in the club’s farm system. The Triple-A Iowa Cubs were the training ground for current big-league players like Addison Russell and Kris Bryant (previously named National League Rookie of the Year). Situated at the confluence of the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers, 11,500-seat Principal Park offers great views of the State Capitol and downtown skyline. A major tourist attraction, it features a new, state-of-the-art video board, plus four picnic areas, a giant kids’ play area and the Cub Club restaurant in left field. With the same type of grass as Wrigley Field’s, the park boasts one of the best playing surfaces in minor league baseball. (milb.com/iowa)
Columbus Clippers at Huntington Park
Located in downtown’s buzzing Arena District, Huntington Park, the Clippers’ 10,000-seat home for five years now, “comes as close to perfection as we’ve seen in any ballpark,” according to BallparkDigest.com. “With an embedded sense of place, a firm grasp on the grand history of baseball and a commitment to the latest in fan comforts, Huntington Park represents the very finest in ballpark design and operations.” For groups watching the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Guardians, the Left Field Building includes a 110-foot bar with six open patios overlooking the field on the second story. The third-story pavilion is an open-air rooftop with bleachers reminiscent of Wrigley Field. The Picnic Terrace in left field and Wendy’s Hamburger Balconies in right field are other options. (clippersbaseball.com)
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