Like many North Carolina cities, Winston-Salem is rich in its baseball history. The first minor league team began playing in 1905 and the city has been home to a team every year since 1957. The team was renamed in time for the opening of their new ballpark as the Dash in honor of the dash between Winston and Salem.
BB&T Ballpark replaced the historic Ernie Shore Field and while it is sad to see an old ballpark go, the new one has done well to help the fans move on. The park is very modern and offers a little something for everyone from the baseball purists to the fun-loving kids.
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When you consider that this is only a single-A park, the food offerings become very impressive. What's even more helpful is that there are seven items that are available at any concession stand in the park including hot dogs, peanuts, and chili. Otherwise, be sure to check one of the ballpark maps. They list every concession stand in the park and exactly what they offer. This is extremely helpful and prevents fans from waiting in the wrong lines.
There is no shortage of variety in the food offered at BB&T Ballpark. Aside from the ballpark favorites, each side of the ballpark has something special to offer. On the first base side is a specialty hot dog stand which offers more toppings and options than others and the Honky Tonk Smokehouse that sells the famous North Carolina pulled pork sandwiches along with brisket sandwiches. On the other side of the park, Sweet Potatoes offers a Mambo chicken sandwich and other classic southern foods such as fried okra, pork skins, and of course, sweet potato fries.
Surely after you get your food, you'll need something to drink. BB&T Ballpark has got you covered there as well. Foothills Brewery is based in Winston-Salem and supplies a large beer selection along with an outfield beer garden. For those preferring something non-alcoholic, Pepsi products are sold in 16, 24, and 32 oz cups.
Unlike its predecessor, BB&T Ballpark features an amazing view of the Winston-Salem skyline. Even though it is only North Carolina's 5th largest city, Winston-Salem still boasts an impressive view especially from the ballpark.
As you look out to the tall buildings in the distance, you can't help but notice the huge video board or the "Dashboard" as it's referred to. This is one of the largest video boards in single-A. The screen is in constant use ranging from pre-game music videos to the robot dance cam.
Along with robot dancing, the Dash are very good at entertaining those in attendance. There are several inflatable play areas along with a carousel set up behind the outfield seats. Over in left field, Foothills Brewing sponsors a three-tiered beer garden complete with games of corn hole.
On the field, the Dash do several things to make the slower parts of the game more enjoyable. When a visiting player comes to bat, the sound system plays a humorous song such as "Baby" by Justin Bieber or Party in the USA by "Miley Cyrus." Of course, there are plenty of between inning games such as kids telling jokes, relay races, and baseball bingo.
If the stadium were a few blocks closer to the developed part of Winston-Salem, then the neighborhood would be just about perfect. Unfortunately, most of the town that is within walking distance is not developed yet. Perhaps when this side of the city is finished, there will be more walkable options.
For now though, get in the car and travel a few blocks down to Bib's downtown. Bib's is one of the more famous local BBQ restaurants in the area. Since the debate in the state is always about eating either Eastern NC or Western NC BBQ, Bib's claims to have "not eastern, not western, but Bestern" BBQ. Along with BBQ, Bib's also offers wings, burgers, and sandwiches making it a very good spot for a pre-game meal.
If you are looking for something more fancy, head down to 4th Street. This is the commercial area of the city and most of the famous restaurants and bars can be found here. Foothillls Brewery has a restaurant on 4th street which is one of the most popular places downtown.
There is a good mix of fans at Dash games. On one hand, there are a good number of fans that show up to the park very early and don't leave until late in the game. There is also about the same number of local families simply looking for an entertaining night out. That being said, they do know the appropriate times to cheer and are not quiet by any means. These two groups together create a very passionate and loyal minor league fan base.
BB&T Ballpark is a few feet from I-40 business, which also connects easily to I-40, I-85, and I-77. Getting to the ballpark should be no trouble at all.
Parking in the stadium lots is $5 and there is no shortage of parking. You should come to the stadium early though because the earlier you come, the closer you can park to the field.
Tickets are $9 for the grass berm, $13 for an outfield seat, $16 for an infield seat, and $18 to sit behind home plate. My personal suggestion is to buy a berm ticket, and sit in the picnic tables in the beer garden. You can get a great seat and save $4, not to mention the grass berm is quite conformable in its own right.
If you add together a $9 ticket, $5 parking, $4 for a hot dog, and $4 for a drink, you come to a grand total of $22. This is a little more than I would like to pay for a single-A game, but I would definitely say the overall experience makes it worthwhile.
One final note about tickets is that they are actually more expensive when purchased online so make sure to buy from the team's box office if possible.
The concourse walls serve as a sort of Hall of Fame for North Carolina baseball. There are plaques for notable ball players who have played in the state for any reason, be it minor leagues or other levels.
You should be given a free program as you walk through the gate which is becoming more and more popular among baseball teams. The book is very informative compared to some others that I have seen.
The mascot of the Dash is Bolt, a red lookalike to the Phillie Phanatic. He is involved in almost every between inning game and is even known to show off his weightlifting skills sometimes.
The soundtrack to team introductions in AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" but with a twist. Instead of the singers repeating the word "thunder," they alternate between "Winston" and "Salem." This is a creative idea and a much appreciated deviation from the tired, traditional intro music.
Finally, I want to add a point for the amazing customer service at this ballpark. This is one of those parks where you feel that anyone in the park is willing and able to help you. That is a great feeling to have at a stadium.
While I will not go as far to say this is a must-see stadium, I will say this is one of the best in the minor leagues. While many other minor league stadiums are coupled with a big market city, Winston-Salem still gives you a small town feel. Their ballpark, however, does not. The experience in the park well exceeds most single-A teams and it is nice to see that the fans embrace that. Any way you look at it, BB&T Ballpark is absolutely worth a visit if your travels bring you to this part of the state.
If there is one thing we know as sports fans, we know how difficult it can be to replace a legend. Most of these legends are on the field or in the booth, of course, but Winston-Salem found itself with the task of replacing their North Carolina home before the 2010 season. Ernie Shore Field played host to the Winston-Salem entry in the Carolina League from 1957-2009, replacing South Side Park, which was lost in a fire. Professional baseball in the Twin City dates back as far as 1905, when the city hosted a partial season of Virginia-North Carolina League play.
The city and franchise opened a new home in 2010, with BB&T Ballpark becoming a part of Winston-Salem's downtown district. The team also became known as the Dash, an homage to the “dash” in the middle of the city's name. With this opening, BB&T Ballpark became the newest affiliated park in North Carolina, a title it will likely hold until new parks in Charlotte and Wilmington open in 2014 - assuming there are no further schedule changes, of course.
I really enjoy taking the family to BB&T Ballpark. I think it's the best park in NC, with Greensboro Grasshoppers' Ballpark being a close second. The Park overlooks downtown at night, which gives a great backdrop for a good night of baseball. It has that classic downtown ballpark feel, while also providing a great product on the field. The Dash are always competitive and the entertainment is always family friendly and halarious at times. Just an all around great time for a family outing, date night, or just hanging out with the guys.
638 W 4th St
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
871 W 4th St
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
901 W 4th St
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
675 W 5th St
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
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