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Official Review by Bradlee Ross, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Located in Springdale, Arkansas, Arvest Ballpark is the home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals of the Texas League. The park opened April 10, 2008 and has a total capacity of 7,305, with a seating capacity of 6,500. The Naturals are the Double-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals and were formerly the Wichita Wranglers up until their move prior to the 2008 season.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food and beverage choices at this venue are top-notch in almost every way. The Cider Shack is in a couple of places around the stadium and sells a great assortment of items including barbecue, the "3 little pigs" sandwich, Miller Lite Beer and even macaroni and cheese.
There are plenty of your typical concessions around as well, and the quality of the food is great. The Naturals' Grill Stands boast tasty items like the Philly cheese steak, footlongs and chicken cheese steaks, while beer-specific stands sell at least 10 different types of beverages. For dessert, you've got your choice of soft-serve ice cream, Dippin' Dots and Sno Cones.
If there's one food item you have to try at this park it is the garlic fries. They were absolutely delicious, and I might go back just for them alone. All in all, this park has high-quality food that is varied and is priced very reasonably.
The atmosphere during a game is a fun one to say the least. The crowd was lively and energetic, and you can tell that this park is really the place to be on a summer afternoon. One could also hear the play-by-play and see the game on TV monitors at specific spots around the park, which I thought was pretty cool, especially for during concession stand breaks. The PA announcer kept the crowd involved in the action and there were many fun contests that partnered with local businesses. The park also has a green recycling program and an ATM if you forget cash.
The park itself is a bit isolated. In fact, it is basically in the middle of nowhere. However, Fayetteville is just a few miles away, so you won't have to drive too far to find plenty of fun things to do. There are a lot of historical attractions, museums and fun things to do, including the All Seasons Trail, the Arkansas Air Museum and the Clinton House Museum. There are also plenty of awesome places to eat and hangout around the University of Arkansas. Fayetteville is one of the better small cities in the United States. However, the venue does lose a few points for being a bit far from some of these attractions. It does take about 15-20 minutes to get to anything from the ballpark.
Considering what you're expecting when you head out to a ballpark that seems like it is in the middle of nowhere, the crowd at Arvest Ballpark was very impressive in its size. While they weren't a super-loud bunch, the fans were very fun and went along with that part of the atmosphere of the venue. Fans are also very friendly and helpful, and it is clear that the Naturals have attracted a large fan base from the surrounding area.
The bathrooms were extremely clean and up-to-date as far as having automatic facilities. The seats and walkways were very spacious. So, despite the large crowd, you really won't have trouble getting around the park. Parking is very bountiful, although none of it is free. However, it's only $3 which is very reasonable. Inside the stadium, there is also plenty of shade, which is always nice in the hot, summer months.
As I mentioned before, the park is a bit isolated and as such, it is a bit hard to find. However, there are signs all along the way telling which way to go, so that helps tremendously.
For the price you'll pay, this park is absolutely worth it. The food is great, the atmosphere is very enjoyable and the venue itself is clean and comfortable. If you ever find yourself in the Fayetteville and Springdale area during baseball season, you are doing yourself a disservice by not visiting Arvest Ballpark. It is a really great venue especially for families with children, and I could not recommend it more highly.
The park gets one extra point for the Kids' Zone, where it had fun games that kids could play during the ballgame. There were a few inflatables, and they even had a couple staff members out there playing wiffle ball with the kids. I have to give them major credit for this, because they were out there the entire day.
I'll give another point for the misters located around the park at different places. The temperature climbs pretty high in Northwest Arkansas during the summer, and it is nice to see that this park cares enough about its fans to help them out in that regard.
This ballpark was awesome. There is really no other way to put it. I have to admit, I was not expecting that much when I saw how isolated it was. This park proved me very, very wrong in a great way, and I'm planning on going back as soon as I get a chance.
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21 S Block Ave
Fayetteville, AR 72701
4290 S School Ave
Fayetteville, AR 72701
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