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Outstanding in their Field: Minor League Stadiums Find Ways to Keep Busy During Winter Months

24 Jan, 2018

By: Michael Popke

In an effort to attract more visitors prior to Super Bowl LII, officials in St. Paul, Minnesota, will add more features to its annual Winter Carnival this year — including activities at CHS Field, home of the independent St. Paul Saints Minor League Baseball team and Hamline University’s baseball team. The carnival runs from Jan. 25 to Feb. 10.

The stadium will feature a giant slide on its field, plus a market across the street. Additionally, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, the “Securian Club Room, a 5,000-square-foot space at the stadium, has several open dates for availability during the two-week period leading up to the Super Bowl on Feb. 4. … The room can sit 200 people for a banquet and it includes a bar-area and a terrace overlooking the field.”

“We want to be a part of what St. Paul is doing,” Derek Sharrer, executive vice president and general manager of the St. Paul Saints, told the paper.

CHS Field isn’t the only minor league ballpark looking to keep fans busy during the offseason.

  • Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford, Connecticut, home of the Class AA Colorado Rockies affiliate Hartford Yard Goats (and winner of Ballpark Digest’s fan vote for “Best Double-A Ballpark in America”), recently introduced goat yogaclass. You read that correctly. The fitness craze began in Oregon and involves doing yoga while small goatscrawl around (or even on) participants.The park is converting a large indoor batting cage into a studio for a total of four classes that each hold 40 people and quickly sold out. A local farm will bring about 15 goats to each session, beginning Jan. 20. “My expectation is that this is going to become a regular thing,” Mike Abramson, the team’s general manager, told the Associated Press, adding that he hopes to keep goat yoga going during the season and move classes to the field. Why not? Just make sure someone cleans up after the goats.
  • The Reno (Nevada) Aces opened an outdoor ice rinkfor two-and-a-half months — from Nov. 1 to Jan. 15 ­— in a plaza area fronting Greater Nevada Field. The Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks partnered with Reno 1868 FC and the Reno Ice Rink to open the rink seven days a week and even added broomball competition for the first time.
  • Chicksaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was transformed into Lifeshare Winterfest between Nov. 24 and Jan. 1, as the Oklahoma City Dodgers — the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Class AAA affiliate — set up two large slides for tubingand decorated the stadium for the holidays. Themed food and beverage items also were available at the concessions stands.
  • Spartan Race continues to offer its events in ballparks, including Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Philadelphia and more. In addition to having a multitude of steps to climb up and down, such facilities have ample parking, rest rooms, good access to roads and plenty of room to set up the obstacles necessary.

Not all ballpark news was festive, though. Campbell’s Field, former home of the independent Camden (N.J.) Riversharks from 2001 to 2015, is slated for demolition. Currently used by the NCAA Division III Rutgers-Camden baseball team, the venue likely will be replaced by a new $15 million complex funded by Rutgers-Camden and the City of Camden.

The university already has committed $7.5 million to the endeavor. “Plans call for constructing athletic fields, bleachers and locker rooms,”according to local reports. “University officials say its softball, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey teams will also use the fields along with Camden students and residents. Camden would seek state funding to help pay for the estimated $15 million project.”

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