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Official Review by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Burlington, Iowa has a rich baseball history dating back to the late 1800’s. There have been a few starts and stops along the way but Burlington has fielded a team in one professional league or another for the majority of the last 100 years.
Burlington has also seen its share of great players. Cubs Hall of Famer Billy Williams played in Burlington in 1958. Fellow Hall of Famer Paul Molitor played in Burlington as well. Vida Blue, Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Larry Walker, and Mark Buehrle are just a few other names that played in Burlington.
The Bees began the 2013 season with a new affiliation. For at least 2013 and 2014, the Bees are a single-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Bees had been an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics for the previous two seasons.
Community Field was originally built in 1947 when the Burlington Indians were established. In 1971, the grandstand burned down and a group of volunteers rebuilt it in time for the 1973 season. Upgrades to Community Field were made in 2004 and 2006 including a better concession area, partial covering of the grandstand, a better sound system, new scoreboard, and paved parking.
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".
Nothing on the menu is unique or could be considered non-traditional baseball fare. What is noticeable however is that the prices are great. The most expensive thing on the menu is the chicken strips basket (with fries) at $6.00. As with all venues in Iowa, the pork tenderloin sandwich is available and a decent price at $4.50 along with the Philly cheese steak.
Other food choices include the brat ($3.25), hamburger ($3.00), grilled chicken sandwich ($3.75), mini pizza ($4.00), and hot dog ($2.75).
For snacks, soft pretzels ($3.00), peanuts ($3.00), Dippin' Dots ($3.50), ice cream sandwiches ($2.00), and the other traditional baseball snacks are all available.
Pepsi products are offered at $2.00 a bottle in addition to water and iced tea ($1.75), slush ($3.00), and hot chocolate ($1.50).
The basic beer choices are $3.00/can and include Budweiser products, Busch Light, Michelob Ultra, Miller Lite, Old Style and Old Style Light, and PBR. Premium items run $3.50 a can and include Bacardi Raz, Landshark, Smirnoff Ice, Boulevard Wheat, and Mike's Hard Lemonade.
Mondays are dollar food nights (hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, and soda) and Thursdays are 2 for $3 on soda and 3 for $4.50 on select beer.
For many fans, their first exposure to minor league baseball may have come by watching the movie "Bull Durham." For the readers who have seen the movie, Community Field is very similar. There is nothing flashy at Community Field. No big video board, simply an older digital scoreboard. Ads line the outfield walls and even the sound system shows some age that gives the stadium an old time feel.
There are four rows of stadium seats that run between the dugouts. All other seating in the stadium is metal bleachers. Beyond the right field dugout is a party area and a wooden deck. Like all the seating behind home plate, you are separated from the field by a net.
Down the left field line is the Coach's Corner, an area where you can stand and watch the game. Between Coach's Corner and the third base dugout is an area of bleachers that are a bit sunken in and the only place in the stadium you can sit and see the game without a net separating you from the field.
Outside of the four rows of stadium seating, most everything else is general admission except for a few reserved seats. Although the modest cost of the box seats make them the recommended seats, many fans like the ability of general admission so they can move freely when the sun or something else dictates.
Community Field is about baseball with very little on the way of frills. There is a child's play area behind the stand on the first base side but on-field promotions are at a minimum.
Burlington, Iowa lies on the banks of the Mississippi River. The river is less than three miles from the stadium. As such, a visit to Big Muddy's is a must. Big Muddy's is located in a building on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was built in 1898 as a freight house and sits on the river bank. Muddy's has seafood, steaks, and everything in between. Whether stopping in for a couple drinks or for a meal, don't miss this if you are in Burlington for a game.
Closer to the stadium is Gator's Grill and Spirits. Gator's has a large menu as well. The drinks are cold and the boneless wings are good. There are and may be more restaurants next to the stadium in the future but as of this review (July, 2013) there is massive reconstruction going on and there are signs to a couple restaurants that are no longer there.
For other entertainment in the area, Catfish Bend Casino is within walking distance of the stadium. The casino includes Funcity, a big play area for kids that includes a water park, bowling, arcade, laser tag, and much more. If you stay at the casino, you get free tickets to the Bee's game.
There are other lodging choices in the area including Howard Johnson and Holiday Inn, both within walking distance of the stadium.
There is nothing wrong with the fans in Burlington. They are a nice group, easy to chat up and quite friendly. They applaud at appropriate times and know their players. The problem is that there aren't very many of them. Sometimes, a completely packed house can decrease the enjoyment of a game a little because there is no room to move. In this case, the lack of fans takes away from the exciting atmosphere that should accompany a game.
Community Field is easy to get to and easy to find. Parking in front of the stadium is free and there is usually plenty of it. Once inside, the concourse is wide, ramps to the seating area are sufficient, the restrooms are clean, and there is a nice handicapped seating area on the third base side.
You can't go wrong with the prices at Community Field. Parking is free. The most expensive ticket is only $8 and that puts you in the first four rows somewhere between the dugouts. General admission is $6 and kids five and under get in for free. Couple the parking with the great ticket prices and cheap food, and it is hard to beat the deal you get in attending a Burlington Bees game.
Be sure and take a look in the team store. In a few of the display cases, you will find old programs and other memorabilia from Burlington baseball dating way back. It's a nice little trip through the history of the team and baseball in Burlington.
Between the seating bowl and concessions is a nice shaded area with tables and chairs to sit and have something to eat or drink without baking in the sun on particularly hot days.
Definitely like the quirkiness of having the right field foul pole being only 318 feet from home plate.
Flown only on game days, an extra point goes to the largest flag in Iowa. The 30x60 foot American flag is quite a sight and makes it impossible to miss the stadium if you have any trouble finding it. The flag pole is 100 feet high.
Like many of the stadiums in the Midwest League, Community Field has an old time feel to it. You won't get many bells and whistles when you attend the game but that is the charm of the stadium. You can spend very little money and sit back, relax, and enjoy a ballgame.
Member Review by paul
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.
Member Review by rctedg on Aug 24, 2011
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.
Member Review by megminard on Oct 03, 2012
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