Having a professional team at any level is a privilege for its city. The West Virginia Power still have a great stadium for perfect summer days and nights at the ballpark. Just a couple of years after hosting the South Atlantic League All-Star game, Appalachian Power Park is still trying to improve and remain one of the best ballparks in all of the minor leagues. While the park is great, there is still one glaring weakness.
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One great staple of going to a baseball game is finding local flavor throughout the concession stands. While the ballpark classics and some non-traditional items are on the menu, a local flavor is not something that will be found at Power Park. Some of the more interesting items are found at an organic stand which features Buffalo Burgers ($6.50), Chicken and Apple Sausage ($4.25), and Buffalo Hot Dogs ($3.50). There is an Italian stand that features Pizza ($5.50) and even a Quaker Steak and Lube with all the normal menu items where you can sit down and eat.
New this year to the ballpark is a stand that serves wine in mini bottles ($7.50) and bottles of Margaritas and Strawberry Daiquiris ($9.50). Behind the third baseline stands is "Chuck's Garden" which uses its herbs and vegetables at the organic stand. The classics are there and easily affordable with popcorn ($2.25), hot dogs ($2.50) and Pepsi products ($2.75). A beer will only set you back $4.25 or $5, depending on the size and brand of beer you drink, with all the major names available including a local favorite Yeungling. There is also a gentleman with a cooler that sells more unique beers such as cans of Magic Hat. Another unique item is the deep fried brownie that only run $3.50 and would definitely be worth a try.
The quality varied quite a bit, however. The Buffalo Burger itself was great, especially with the peppers and onions that are fried right on the griddle at the stand. The burger was then served on a "thin bun" with a bag of Baked Lays chips of your choice. It might have been better to give this good burger a good bun and something other than a bag of chips you can purchase at the gas station down the street. A gem of a ballpark snack that could go overlooked is the bag of Cajun Peanuts that you can get at the wine stand; although, it might be an odd pairing with a bottle of wine. Power Park's concession stands are definitely a mixed bag but are still much better than average.
With the stadium still being fairly new (opened in 2005), Power Park is a very comfortable place to watch a game. There is really only one level of seating, with about 12 rows per section. No matter where you sit, you will be close to the action. There is also a party deck for $30, which gets you an all-you-can-eat menu for you to choose from. From night to night though, it's unclear as to whether there will be a sell-out crowd or 20 people in the section in which you're sitting. On the nights where there is less than half a capacity crowd, you'll be in for a very relaxing night of baseball.
Adding to the atmosphere is the "Toast Man" who is almost always behind home plate. Always cheering light-hearted cheers, the "Toast Man" also has an outlet by his seat so he can plug in his toaster during the games. Whenever an opposing player strikes out, the "Toast Man" will burn two pieces of bread and loft the smell towards home plate while yelling ,"YOU ARE TOAST!" After burning two pieces of toast, he will usually find a child in the crowd to throw the toast to (not that you'd let the child eat the toast).
There a few promotions played in between innings, but don't expect an abundance of games or anything very original. The prizes aren't going blow you away either. For instance, a fan won a $100 gas gift card by winning a cornhole toss, but he only got the gift card if he refinanced a loan with this particular sponsor.
The neighborhood around Power Park is a little scarce around the immediate block in which it resides. If you wanted to stay close to the park, the Quaker Steak & Lube is probably the best and only real option.
Within a few blocks in either direction are a few local restaurants like Pies and Pints, which would be great after a game, especially on a weekend. Also within about a minute's drive is the Charleston Town Center Mall. While maybe a mall might not be the first place you'd think of to hang out; there are quite a few restaurants just outside that would be perfect before or after a game. There are a few chains like Chili's and Five Guys and also a couple of really nice restaurants like the Tidewater Grill.
One thing that adds to the local neighborhood feel of the stadium is the old warehouse that was turned into part of the stadium. The warehouse holds the Quaker Steak & Lube, the Power management offices, and even some box seats. The stadium was designed nicely right in downtown Charleston but the only detractor is that despite all the great restaurants listed, nothing is really within walking distance. There is a very old shopping center that has a dollar store and a couple other stores and offices that would be a great place for a few bars and restaurants. Really, the only use for this shopping center is parking at the present time.
The fans here are mainly a mix of families' keeping track of their children and people looking to socialize around the two-for-one beer nights. The "Toast Man" usually has a small following behind him, but he can't cheer all by himself. The party deck will usually get pretty loud, but it ends up being white noise, unless you get a group of die-hard baseball fans. Baseball is supposed to be more relaxing to watch in person than other sports, but at some point you'd like to see a fan base rise up and cheer, especially when the home team is in a scoring position. A lot of the fans seem to bug out early as well, which may just be indicative to how the team is currently playing.
Parking will max out at $3, and there is plenty of it between a parking garage and the nearby shopping center. You should have absolutely no problem getting into the park, and getting out is not a whole lot harder. The single lanes and red lights could cause a problem getting out if you catch a game that is at or near full-capacity, but again, a lot of fans will leave early, so there shouldn't be too much of a problem either way. The bathrooms are equally as easy to get in and out of in between innings. They are almost always very clean, very roomy and in multiple locations.
You could possibly go to a game here for $8 between a general admission seat and parking; and any Minor League Baseball game at a stadium built after the year 2000 is well worth that price. Considering this is the only full-year professional team within a three-hour drive, you'd think they could charge even more for tickets and food. You'll also have easy access to many of the players before the games for autographs if you have small children or you know you're seeing an up-and-coming star. If you're looking for a nice relaxing night or if you just have a list of minor league parks you'd like to see a game at; going to Appalachian Power Park is a no-brainer.
The bonus points are for the combined ease of getting in and out of the ballpark, the cost of the food and tickets, and the few unique items that Appalachian Power Park has, such as the wine stand and organic garden. Being from the state of West Virginia, I know the kind of attention that the college and high school teams receive around the state. West Virginia has no major league teams and has only a handful of minor league teams in any sport. As a result, I really feel like the fans here need to take a bigger role in the team. A lesson could really be learned from the "Toast Man."
The West Virginia Power (Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates) play at Appalachian Power Park, which opened in 2005 and holds 4,500 fans. I would consider it the best of the minor league stadiums I have visited. A clean park that looks like it was just built yesterday with a courteous staff who quickly and warmly answered any of my questions.
Clean, unique and a great representation of a downtown small park. The food at the grill is probably your best option... most concession food was either pedestrian, or not as good as hoped.
800 Smith St
Charleston, WV 25301
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Charleston, WV 25301
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222 Capitol St
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