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Official Review by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Dehler Park is the home of the Billings Mustangs, rookie league baseball team (Cincinnati Reds) in the Pioneer League. In 2008, it replaced the old Cobb Field which was beginning to show a state of disrepair and was demolished as part of the building of the new Dehler Park.
The Mustangs began play in 1948 and have won 15 Pioneer League titles, most recently in 2014. They have been affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds for at least 42 consecutive years making that partnership one of the longest running player development relationships in professional baseball.
The organization does a fabulous job at making a game day experience so very entertaining for fans attending a ball game in Billings, MT; one you’ll want to go back to several times. The game, the players, and the fans are the entertainment and there are many conveniences for the modern baseball fan at this 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".
Dehler Park provides an outstanding variety of food and beverage items for a Mustangs game at affordable prices. Lines can get long at times but they move relatively quickly. The concessions close before the 7th inning so be sure to get your appetite filled earlier in the game.
Permanent stands 'First and Third' (on both sides of the concourse) offer hot dogs, sausage, chicken wings, a variety of fries, pretzels and nachos ($3.50 - $6.00). It has snacks of popcorn, peanuts, candy, crackerjacks, ice cream, pickles, and more ($1.75 - $3.00). Sodas are the Pepsi variety at $2.50 / $3.50 (refillable for $1.00 / $1.50). Water is $2.50 a bottle.
Uncle Charlies Cheese Steak ($8), Diablo Dogs ($4.50), Mountain Mudd expresso, Caramel Korn and Chocolate Strawberry kabobs round out some of the carts speckled throughout the concourse.
The Bob Wilson Memorial Plaza in left field provides a slew of picnic tables (in and out of the shade) on a grass surface to enjoy the concessions before heading to your seat.
The specialty food item, the Stang Burger, can be found at the Lead-Off Grill hidden behind the third base concourse. The Stang Burger is a hamburger topped with beef brisket for $7.50 and is yummy. At this same stand regular burgers, beer brats ($4.00), and other items are grilled fresh.
There are beer concessions on the first and third baseline concourses and in the outfield offering an excellent selection including two local brews at $5.50. The one on the third baseline offers a more varied selection and is the one I'd recommend visiting (it is also right next door to the Lead-Off Grill and near the picnic area).
Outside food or drink is not permitted.
Dehler Park provides a stellar game day operation as the focus is on the baseball game being played.
Nets cover seating areas from behind the entire dugout to the end of the other dugout (sections 108 to 116). To sit net free choose section 117 or higher on the third base side or section 107 and higher on first base side. All seats are the plastic green fold down variety with cup holders with the exception of bleacher seats in sections 105 and 106.
The bullpen seating areas are at sections 105 (first base) or 118 (third base). If you can get a seat in row 1, you'll be right in front of the relief pitchers when they begin their warm ups.
The 329 Club in left field is named for the distance from home plate. It is a reserved seating area for corporate and party events. Drink rails are only in the outfield on the left field side. Some tables are scattered around the outfield walkways.
A few sections in the infield seating area have canopies overhead. A recommendation is to sit on third base side as the first base seats are directly in the setting sun's path. Bring your sunscreen and umbrella as there is minimal shade and no place to go for shelter if it rains.
What a treat - music is only played between innings and not between pitches and batters. There are no player walk up songs. The PA announcer is audible.
The ballpark is walking distance (eight or so blocks) to historic downtown Montana Ave where there are a variety of places to eat, drink, sleep, and tour. It sits next to a hospital and is very close to the airport. Expect to see a few airplanes or helicopters passing over the field.
There is an Impressive selection of dining options including pitas, wraps, pizza, Indian, cafes, sandwich shops, fine dining, steaks, Mexican, and more in and around Billings. Recommended places to eat are Montana Brewing Company or Uberbrew (breweries with food) and Bernie's (diner - open for breakfast and lunch). Better yet take the Brewery Tour (1 ½ mile walking tour visiting Billings' breweries while stopping at historical points along the way). For finer dining, check out Walkers American Grill & Tapas Bar or Jake's Steakhouse eight blocks south of the stadium.
There are several hotels within a mile of the ballpark and even more in the extended metropolitan area. I stayed at the Riversage Billings Inn (two blocks from Dehler Park) and would recommend it. Downtown also hosts a Best Western or Crowne Plaza if you prefer name brand hotels.
There are plenty of things to see and do when visiting Billings. Check out the Western Heritage Center in downtown, drive or hike the Rimrocks for a beautiful view, visit ZooMontana or tour the Moss Mansion.
The Mustang fans are the best part of what makes attending a game so enjoyable.
They certainly are conversant about the game of baseball with discussions heard throughout the game containing 'He should bunt,' 'Will they walk him to get the double play?,' or 'He hit one out of here last night.' And after a bad or missed play you'll politely hear fans saying 'It IS still a development league.' And they disagree with the umpires calls and mimic the safe and out calls (always in favor of the Mustangs player).
Lots of fans keep score. The starting lineup is posted just to the left of the home plate entrance. Be sure to pick up a game program for $1 which includes the current roster for both teams, a fine looking scorecard, and the magazine program.
It is a family friendly atmosphere and it is easy to strike up a conversation with your neighbors. They make it fun.
Averaging over 3,000 fans a game, the Mustangs fans consistently fill the stadium (especially since the opening of Dehler Park).
Getting to/from and in/around Dehler Park is easy.
From I-90 take exit 450 (27th St) north about two miles to 9th Ave. The ballpark will be on your right. Make a right on 9th Ave (at the Perkins and CVS) and there is a small parking lot (free) a block up on the left. Parking is also available throughout the neighborhood. There is bus service in Billings but it does not appear to be an option to get to and from the ballpark as service ends at 6:40 pm weekdays/5:45 pm on Saturdays with no service on Sundays. The closest airport is Billings Logan International Airport (BIL) and is just a few minutes from Dehler Park.
Of course, if staying in the downtown area, walking is your best option and it is completely safe walking back after the game.
There are three entrances to the ballpark: home, right field and left field. The batting cage for the Mustangs is next to the left field entrance so this is a perfect place to get autographs from the young players. One can walk the entire concourse both inside and outside. Gates open an hour before the first scheduled pitch. The concourses are nice and wide making traffic flow smooth.
Restrooms are ample and clean.
A trip to see a Mustangs game in Dehler Park is well worth the money spent.
Single game tickets range from $4 (standing room) to $10 (club seats - those directly behind home plate in sections 110 - 114). I'd recommend the $6 ($5 kids and seniors 60+) field box seats in section 117 as those are net free and the sun is not in your face. That's better than a movie ticket! There are a few promotional nights throughout the season so check their schedule for a listing.
The parking is free, food and beverage prices are reasonable and the game day is just a whole lot of fun.
In center field there is the KZone. An individual keeps track of the strikeouts by Mustangs' pitchers and adds a K (forwards or backwards depending on strike) along the outfield wall for each strikeout.
Daylight lasts forever in Montana in the summer. A game starting at 7pm that lasts for two and a half hours and it can still be daylight when heading back home.
There are two statues outside the park as well as plaques for fans who have donated considerable finances towards the construction of the ballpark. One of the statues is a tribute to Ed Bayne, a civic and athletic hero and coach for many years of the American Legion baseball program in Billings. The other honors Dave McNally, famed Orioles left handed pitcher, who was from Billings, MT.
The Rimrocks (300 foot high sandstone bluffs surrounding the valley) provide a spectacular view from the ballpark.
For those with kids, there is a huge bounce house down the right field concourse for them to expend some energy if needed.
The game day staff is as nice and friendly as can be.
This is an excellent ballpark to visit with the focus of entertainment on the ballgame while still providing modern conveniences, good food, and engaging fans.
Member Review by mascotdb on Sep 04, 2012
Nestled next to the vista of Billings’ famed rimrocks, Dehler Park is arguably the jewel of the Pioneer League. Dehler (pronounced ‘Dee-ler’) opened in 2008, replacing the historic, but dilapidated, Cobb Field, which had been in use since the 1940s. Built at a cost of $12.5 million, Dehler Park is used for concerts (Bob Dylan performed there in 2010), American Legion baseball, Montana State University Billings baseball, and Billings Mustangs baseball. Billings businessman Jon Dehler purchased the naming rights for the stadium and named it for his father, a lifelong baseball fan.
Seating capacity is 3,071, with additional standing room only tables available along the outfield concourse. Individual infield box seats are available, as well as bleachers and a lawn berm.
Despite being a new facility, Dehler Park is part museum as well, with a bronze sculpture of Billings native Dave McNally (long-time Baltimore Orioles pitcher) outside the front gate of the stadium. Another statue of legendary American Legion baseball coach Ed Bayne stands near the ticket booth. A bust of long-time owner Bob Wilson is located in the picnic area next to the home clubhouse down the left-field line. Bleachers from the old Cobb Field are available far down the right-field line. George Brett and Trevor Hoffman once played here in Billings, as have most of the homegrown stars (Adam Dunn, Jay Bruce and Joey Votto) of the Cincinnati Reds, the parent club of the Mustangs. Billy Hamilton, who just smashed the single-season stolen base record, played at Dehler in 2010.
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