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Curtis Granderson Stadium

Chicago, IL

Home of the UIC Flames

2.3

N/A

Curtis Granderson Stadium (map it)
901 W Roosevelt Rd
Chicago, IL 60608


UIC Flames website

Curtis Granderson Stadium website

Year Opened: 2014

Capacity: 1,200

There are no tickets available at this time.

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The Flame Has Been Kindled

On February 6, 2013, the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames announced that they were retiring the number 28 in honor of former standout and Major Leaguer Curtis Granderson. During the retirement ceremony, Granderson also announced that he would make a significant donation to build a new baseball stadium for his alma mater. In all, Granderson pledged $5 million.

The groundbreaking occurred in September 2013, but the venue was not yet complete for the opening of the 2014 season. Our visit occurred in April, 2014, about two weeks before the planned official dedication. It will be interesting to visit in 2015 and season the finished product in action.

Besides serving as the home of the UIC Flames baseball team, Granderson Stadium will also host youth games in partnership with MLB and Chicago Public Schools.

The field is entirely turf, even the pitcher’s mound, which should make it easy to maintain. However, it does take away some of the sounds that baseball fans enjoy.

2.3

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    0

In 2014, there was no food and beverage on hand. There are plans for a concession area which will be able to service both Granderson Stadium as well as the nearby Flames Field, home of the UIC softball team.

Atmosphere    3

The ballpark seats 1,200 fans in eight rows of blue plastic chair back seats. There are cup holders for all seats, except for the first row, and better than average legroom in all rows. There is also good pitch between rows, so even when the venue is full, you should have a good view of the action. There is a screen that stretches from the end of each dugout, all the way around, protecting all of the seats in the ballpark.

A speaker system sits atop the UIC dugout on the 3rd base side, blaring out music, which can be heard clearly throughout the venue, but is a little loud if you're right in front of it. Fans of the opposing team will likely want to sit along the 1st base side behind the visitor's dugout.

The scoreboard seems to have video capabilities, but it was not used or not ready to use during our April 2014 visit. Without that aspect, it's a pretty basic scoreboard with just the line score, number of the player at bat, balls and strikes, as well as runs, hits, and errors.

Fans can also watch the teams' bullpens warm-up beyond the left field wall in side-by-side bullpens. Beyond the bullpens, you can't help but notice the 1,451-foot tall Willis Tower (formerly known and usually still referred to as the Sears Tower by locals). It's the centerpiece of the skyline for fans seeing games in Granderson Stadium.

Neighborhood    4

UIC is located near the Little Italy neighborhood of Chicago on the near south side. There are plenty of bars and restaurants either along Taylor Street, or on South Halsted. If you leave the ballpark near the right field foul pole, then you'll find yourself on Halsted. Walk or drive a mile or so north on Halsted and you'll find some of the best Greek restaurants in Chicago, including the Parthenon, home of the invention of yelling "Opa" when lighting saganaki cheese on fire.

Taylor Street is just a quarter of a mile north of the ballpark, and home to so many Italian restaurants that it is hard to pick just one. There is other great ethnic fare as well, but my favorite spot is Three Aces, a sports bar meets rock and roll bar meets foodie hangout. They have wonderful pizzas, sandwiches, and other inventive menu items, as well as a great bar menu.

Also along Taylor Street is the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame, a small but interesting stop for sports fans who want to kill some time. Across the street from the Hall of Fame, is a great statue of Joe DiMaggio.

Fans    3

College baseball fans in the Midwest are interesting. On the one hand, the people who go to a game have a vested interest in the outcome and player performance. This is usually because they have family or friends on the field. So they are loud and passionate and will stay for the entire game. On the other hand, there just aren't that many of them. In fact the dugouts are often the loudest areas of the field. This is true of Granderson Stadium as well. This isn't a bad thing though. In fact, the fans help set the stage for a really pure baseball experience. If it is a beautiful spring day, then college baseball at Granderson Stadium is enhanced by the smattering of fans.

Access    2

Fans can park in the lots on the north side of Roosevelt Road, but the $10 parking cost is a bit of a turn off. This is Chicago though, and costs to park can sometimes be expensive. From this lot, you simply cross the street to the south side of Roosevelt, and pass through the Physical Education Building to the stadium. Parking on the street is $2 per hour, so you may consider trying to find a spot on the street on Halsted (1100 S Halsted would be a good target). If you're patient and want to save the money, then you should be able to find free parking on a side street, but be sure to read all signs carefully.

Inside the stadium, construction marred the ability to move around in 2014, so we'll have a better sense of how easy it is to maneuver come the 2015 season. Additionally, restrooms are in the form of port-a-potties down each line. You can also choose to walk a bit and go back into the Physical Education Building if you prefer indoor facilities.

Return on Investment    2

Tickets cost $7 for adults, and are free for students and children. It's not an unreasonable sum, but is certainly on the high side for this part of the country, where most fields require no admission fee at all. When you add in the price of parking, then you are left with an experience that is not currently worth the cost to attend. A lot can change though once construction is complete. Seats are comfortable, and this will no doubt be one of the best college ballparks at this level in the area.

Extras    2

One extra point for the man behind this project, Curtis Granderson. His donation to his alma mater is commendable, but the further focus on using this ballpark to help support Chicago Youth Sports is a real testament to the man and his admirable intentions.

Another extra point for the great neighborhood and the opportunities present in Chicago. This is a wonderful city, and you can fill up days heading to Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field, but don't hesitate to make the trip to the near south side to see UIC's new ballpark.

Final Thoughts

UIC will have a great little ballpark for its school and for its community when it is all said and done. The 2015 season should offer the first full season of the completed new ballpark.

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Local Food & Drink

Three Aces  (map it!)

1321 W Taylor St

Chicago, IL 60607

(312) 243-1577

http://threeaceschicago.com/

Parthenon  (map it!)

314 S Halsted St,

Chicago, IL 60661

(312) 726-2407

http://www.theparthenon.com/

Local Entertainment

National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame  (map it!)

1431 W Taylor St

Chicago, IL 60607

(312) 226-5566

http://www.niashf.org/

Lodging

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