Alexian Field opened in Schaumburg, Illinois in 1999 as the home of the Schaumburg Flyers of the Northern League. In 2011, the team folded amidst financial difficulties, and the folding of their league as well. In 2012, a new tenant began play in what is currently being called Boomers Stadium (although you may also see Schaumburg Baseball Stadium). The Schaumburg Boomers are a member of the independent Frontier League, and although there are some improvements to the facility, and the team has had a good inaugural campaign, fan support in the community still remains a bit tepid.
The Schaumburg Boomers are owned by Patrick and Lindy Salvi, who are also the owners of the Gary South Shore Railcats, who play in the American Association at their home, U.S. Steel Yard. Given the success that the RailCats have had over the years, one could speculate that the Boomers will have similar success. It will be interesting to see if the fans come out to the ballpark.
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".
I think the Boomers do a good job with their food and beverage, although there may be a couple of items that are probably overpriced (the brats stand out in that way). I like that they have some unique items, with some local flair, as well as that one monstrous signature item that is found more and more at ballparks across the country.
The cleverly named "Schaumburger" ($7.50) is served on a pretzel roll with beer cheese, bacon, and a fresh tasting pickle, tomato, lettuce, and red onion slices. The burger is a pre-frozen patty, but the excellent toppings make up for that fact. Fans will also enjoy the Pot Roast Smasher ($7), a slice of pot roast served with cheddar cheese and horseradish on buttered Texas toast.
If you and a friend have a big appetite, then you may consider sharing the "Brat-a-Boom" ($18). It's a two-foot long bratwurst served on a pretzel bun with bacon braised sauerkraut, beer cheese, and fried onions. It sounds rather delicious, but being alone on this visit, and on the advice of my cardiologist, I refrained from trying one.
Bobak's (known as the sausageologist) provides brats and Italian sausage along the concourse ($5.50 each), and Papa John's pizza is served ($4.75/slice).
To drink, Pepsi products are available in two sizes, but no souvenir cup ($2.75/$3.75). Beer options range from Miller Lite, Coors Light, Blue Moon, and Leinenkugel ($5-$6). It's a good mix of unique and traditional, and the staff are very friendly.
While not at all flashy, this is a very comfortable ballpark to see a game, and the Boomers do a good job of maintaining the minor league field with promotions and contests, without detracting too much from the baseball being played.
The seating areas are all green plastic seats with good leg room and cupholders at each seat. Steep grass berms stretch along each foul line, with the berm in right being more lush (presumably because of the slightly less sun exposure).
The Left Field Party Deck provides some tables with umbrellas and additional seating for parties of 50 or more, starting at $27, including food. The suites are also a good size with three rows of stadium seat, accommodating 25-35, starting under $25 per person, which is a pretty decent deal if you can scrape together that large of a group.
The scoreboard is new in 2012, and includes a video screen that provides batter stats throughout the game, which is a big help for fans who want to get to know the team better. It's a big ballpark, with dimensions of 353 feet down the right field line, and 355 feet down the left field line.In fact, the dimensions of the playing field are the same as Wrigley Field.
There's a decent kid's area in left field, although it will cost you $5 for your kid to spend the innings bouncing around in the bounce house and other attractions.
When I think of Schaumburg, I tend to think of shopping malls, and the huge Ikea store nearby. It's one of the northwest suburbs of Chicago, and there is little to do in the immediate neighborhood. If you are looking for a bite or drink before or after the game, I would recommend making the ten minute drive to Smokin' Will's BBQ in Roselle, or the Village Tavern & Grill in Schaumburg. If shopping is your thing, then the Woodfield Mall is a well known shopping destination with nearly 300 stores.
I am a bit perplexed by the lack of fan support that the new team has found. It's a comfortable ballpark, the team is playing well, and the food is good. I would think that the team would be near the top of the Frontier League in attendance. Maybe it's the bad taste left from how the Flyers ended their franchise, but I am hopeful that the fans will support the new ownership group, as there is obviously an investment being made in the game day experience being provided.
Overall, the access to the stadium is very good, but I have two minor gripes. The first is that fans are unable to walk completely around the concourse. The second is that the handicap seating does not have any stadium seats to accompany the spots reserved for those who use a wheelchair. Instead, cheap folding chairs are provided. It's probably a more flexible arrangement, but less than ideal for fans.
The good news, and probably a more important portion of this section, is that parking is free, and located right next to the stadium. The concourses are wide and bathrooms are plentiful and clean. Boomers Stadium is just off of the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway, or can be easily accessed off of Thorndale Avenue if traveling via I-290.
Reserve seats will cost you $10, and lawn seats are $7. The berm is steep enough that I would probably choose a regular seat for just $3 more. A screen is in front of the seats in sections E-K to protect fans from foul balls. I would recommend sections B or H as the best place to watch with an unobstructed view. With the cost of parking (or lack thereof), and the quality food items, I think this ballpark provides an overall good value.
One extra point for the work of Coop the Boomer, the team's mascot. My most recent visit occurred during a mid-week daytime kids day, where many camps brought kids to the game. This is probably the most difficult game for any mascot to work, and he excelled in interacting with the crowd.
Speaking of the Boomers, it is an unusual name, and when you look at the logo, it doesn't necessarily make immediate sense, unless you're an ornithologist. You see, the team is named for an endangered bird that is native to Illinois known as the Great Prairie Chicken. They can be found in greater abundance in the Dakotas, but at one time they were prevalent in this area, and nicknamed "boomers" because of the loud noise they make during mating season. A bonus point for the interesting team name chosen.
One extra point for all of the friendly staff that I encountered while visiting Boomers Stadium. It may seem like an obvious thing, but so many teams miss that the first thing they need to do well is how they treat their fans and visitors. I spoke to at least ten different staff and had pleasant experiences across the board.
Finally, an extra point for the condition of the field. In the offseason the team hired Roger Bossard, the long-time groundskeeper of the Chicago White Sox, and installed new sod. The field looks amazing, and marked improvement since my last visit in 2010, turning the playing field into an aesthetic gem.
I enjoy seeing a stadium with a new tenant to see how "under new management" can change the environment. The Schaumburg Boomers experience is noticeably better than the Schaumburg Flyers experience. Fans in the community should take notice, and make a trip out to Boomers Stadium.
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