The state of Iowa has a long and storied history that extends well beyond the hit film Field of Dreams. Burlington, Iowa hosted its first professional baseball team, the Burlington Babies, in 1889. Over the next four decades teams came and teams went. Since 1947, the team's home has been Community Field.
In 1971 though, the grandstands burned and much of the field was rebuilt. In 2006, major renovations were completed leaving the stadium in its current state. Renovations included a new press box, new concession stands, new souvenir store, upgraded dugouts, and new reserved seating.
The Bees have won League titles in 1947, 1965, 1977, 1999, 2008, and 2009, and have produced some Hall of Fame quality talent. Former players include Billy Williams and Paul Molitor.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
I was lucky enough to attend on a dollar Monday, when pizza, hot dogs, and soda are all only $1. On most nights they have your standard selection of ballpark fare. Unique items include the pork tenderloin sandwich ($4.50), lips dog (deep fried chicken with Buffalo sauce), and Sterzing's potato chips ($1.50, made in Burlington). I tried the pork tenderloin, which certainly provided good bang for the buck, but was just so-so.
Cans of beer are available including Bud Light, Busch Light, Michelob Ultra, Miller Lite, Coors Light, MGD, PBR, and Old Style ($2.75). Premium options include Landshark, Boulevard Wheat, Mike's Hard Lemonade, and Bud Light Lime ($3.25). Soda is provided by Pepsi ($2).
Community Field is one of those small parks that just feels like minor league baseball. On a cool, summer night, it seems there could be no better place in the world to be. The fans are less than rowdy, the seats are somewhat uncomfortable, but you'll like the park anyways.
The first four rows stretch from dugout to dugout and are completely screened in. The seats are green plastic with cup holders and above average leg room. This is the place to sit as they offer the best comfort and view. Additionally, the concourse runs behind these seats so you won't have to deal with any spectators standing up or walking in your way.
All other seats in the stadium are metal bleachers. The team hopes to replace all seats with the green plastic in the coming years, but for now, it's worth springing for the reserved seating.
Down the left field line there are a few reserved standing seats for long-time fans and community activists known as Coach's Corner. The bleachers immediately toward the infield offer an interesting view as they are about even with third base and slightly sunken below the field so you feel like you're looking up. If you choose general admission seats, this would be a good place to go.
Giveaways, games and other shenanigans are kept to a minimum, keeping the focus on the National Pastime. They have a few contests, which felt like just the right number, nothing like the contest every half inning carnival that you see in some parks.
In the immediate neighborhood, there aren't a ton of options, but there are a few. I had dinner at the nearby Casa Fiesta. I'm not sure what it is about these Class A minor league stadiums in Iowa, but much like Alliant Energy Field in Clinton, Mexican was on the menu. The food at Casa Fiesta was good, but not great. I certainly appreciated the fast and friendly service and the fact that they had a cold beer and warm chips with homemade salsa on my table about 30 seconds after I sat down.
Slightly closer to the ballpark there is the divey Dugout Lounge. They have cheap beer and are open as late as 2am and offer a pool table. It could be a good place to grab a few before or after a game.
As far as entertainment options, if the kids are with you, Fun City is the place to go. With a waterpark, arcade, bowling alley, and go cart racing you should be able to keep the young ones entertained if you want to make a day of it. If it's just the adults, then the Catfish Bend Casino is an option if you're feeling lucky.
It is a pretty reserved crew that attends a Burlington Bees game. Their eyes all seem affixed to the game at hand, and they clap appreciatively after a strike or a routine play. You'll notice one particular fan who is more exuberant than others. His name is Dancing Bobby and I am told that he has been at virtually every game for the past 27 years. He stands throughout the game and is often seen dancing when the sound guy plays between inning music, or any other type of tune.
Overall, although subdued, the fans are very friendly and welcoming to Community Field.
Parking is free, always a nice perk. Generally, you'll find your way to a spot on the lawn outside the main ticket office, but parking is also available in the nearby parking lot. Concourses are plenty wide, and bathrooms are air-conditioned, clean, and smell like cinnamon. This is a very easy ballpark to find, and gain access to. There are also several hotels within walking distance of the stadium, so if you plan on staying overnight you will be in good shape.
The most expensive ticket in the house is only $8. Kids under 5 get in for free, and Mondays are a great time to be taken out to the ole ball game, as tickets are only $2 for general admission. Food prices are also very reasonable. When you add in the free parking, then you've got quite a bargain on your hands. I know I would be at Community Field every Monday night, as I could have a great time and be well-fed for under $10. On other nights, you could get the best of everything and still spend under $20. For an old-time feel, this is a great value. I would gladly have paid more.
Community Field is definitely short down the right field line at only 318 feet to the foul pole. They also have a fun ground rule as the second tier of advertisements in left field is a home run, as is the lone advertisement attached to the light tower in right center.
Another extra point for the groundskeeper's dog, Bindy. Bindy just relaxes on the field for most of the pre-game grounds work.
Finally, an extra point for the largest flag in the state of Iowa, flown in the Legion Park outside the stadium entrance. The flag is 30x60 feet and is flown only on home game days. I tried many times to get a picture that helped to illustrate the enormity of this American flag, but there's nothing up there but sky to give perspective. To appreciate this one, you'll have to visit yourself.
If you are planning a ballpark trip through Iowa or the Midwest League, then Burlington should definitely be on your list of parks to see. There's nothing real flashy, just a baseball-focused experience where you can sit back, have a cold beer and a hot dog and remember that life is good.
Community Field is at the roots of minor league baseball. It is a friendly environment, with a cast of characters among the fans. It is baseball where dreams begin to be realized, or lost, and has been for longer than any other continuously existing professional organization. It is the only place where Paul Molitor played in the minors. It was home to Vida Blue and Larry Walker. If you love baseball, its history you should take in a game.
To me, a game at Community Field is average (and that's a good thing).
The field is beautiful. The turf is lush and green - you want to run across it barefoot. There is a HUGE USA flag outside the park.
The organization allowed me to visit and walk through the concourse way before the gates even opened (that's a nice treat). The souvenir shop has some old photos and memorabilia of past teams. Be sure to check those out.
I did not care for the net around much of the seating area and music was played when players were being announced.
The scoreboard is basic (serves its purpose for those of us who keep score).
I did try the Casa Fiesta restaurant and it was fine. I stayed at the Howard Johnson’s across the street (walking distance to ballpark). If you stay there I’d recommend requesting an interior room as the exterior rooms seemed a bit run down.
I did not find a whole lot of tourist things to do in Burlington.
The end of the 2012 season, the Bees became affiliated with the LA Angels.
3001 Winegard Dr
Burlington, IA 52601
3001 Winegard Dr
Burlington, IA 52601
1605 N Roosevelt Ave
Burlington, IA 52601