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Official Review by Bradlee Ross, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Located in Little Rock, Arkansas, Dickey-Stephens Park is the home of the Arkansas Travelers. The ballpark has a capacity of 5,800 and was opened in 2007 to replace Ray Winder Field. It was named after four local Arkansas brothers who achieved fame and fortune, two of which did so in baseball.
The Travelers are a double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and play in the Texas League. They have won seven league titles in their history, with the most recent coming in 2008.
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".
The food at Dickey-Stephens Park is not bad, but there is very little offered that is out of the ordinary. For the most part, all you are going to be able to get is traditional concession foods. That is fine for some fans, but understandably not for others. The quality of the food is good though, and everything tasted as it should.
The park does have a restaurant called Ump's Home Plate, which also contains a full bar. In addition, the park has various stands selling things like corndogs, funnel cakes, lemonade and cotton candy. Each of those was pretty reasonably-priced as well.
The most interesting thing the park had in this area was the Beer Garden, which is exactly what it sounds like. It is a place where you can buy a beer and hang out while you watch the game. It seemed to be the most social area of the park.
The atmosphere at Dickey-Stephens Park is an interesting one. While the park itself does have good atmosphere, it really did not seem to be centered around the baseball game that was being played before you. It seemed that it was more of a social scene than anything else. You could tell that fans were having fun, but it was largely apart from the game on the field. Some fans will like that, others will not.
Music was played between the innings just as it is at many other minor league parks. There is a place called the "Kidz Korner" which has inflatables for kids to play on during the game. It closes at end of the 7th inning. There were also some fun games between innings for prizes and the like, usually with kids competing for them.
There are also plenty of places to buy any kind of souvenir you could want. The Travelers' Museum was pretty interesting and is something I would recommend to any big baseball fan. There are plenty of places where smoking is allowed as well, which is another thing that fans will be split on.
There isn't much to do in the area surrounding the park. There is a Benihana and steak house down the street. Other than that though, there is very little nearby. You might find a few more things to do if you cross the bridge into the main portion of Little Rock, but even there it is pretty slim. There are a few more local restaurants and hotels that way, but most of the businesses are just your average chains that seem to be everywhere nowadays.
The park was only about half full during my most recent visit. Most of the fans were clearly not interested in the game and were more interested in socializing. You can tell they are having fun, but it seems to have little to do with baseball. For the most part, the park never got loud in support of the home team. Certain areas were more invested in the game itself than others. The worst area in this regard is the Beer Garden. Hardly any of the fans in that area seemed to even realize a game was going on. I will not be too hard on the fanbase though, because there were pockets of fans really invested in the game. Those pockets are just too small.
Access is not a problem for Dickey-Stephens Park. Parking is not hard to find and can be found for free if you are willing to look. Most places that do charge for parking charge $10 or $5. Free parking is farther away, but the savings are worth the walk. It is also easy to get around inside the park. The aisles are big enough for the crowds, and it really was not crowded anywhere. The bathrooms were also very clean and well-kept.
Despite the lack of baseball atmosphere and fan interest in the game, the return on the investment here is still good. Tickets are extremely cheap, even for nicer seats. Also, the atmosphere itself is a fun one, especially if you are a young adult. I would not recommend this park to families so much as I would adults in their 20s or early 30s. It isn't the best baseball experience I have ever had, but I did have fun, and pretty cheaply at that.
The first extra point is for the private picnic areas they had for large groups. There were at least two or three of these places around the park, where one could have a private gathering and still enjoy the open air of the park. There were a few groups there, and they seemed to really enjoy the experience.
The second extra point is for the wireless internet. This part may not be for everyone, but iPhone users will appreciate it. The park had four different wireless networks to choose from, each of which appeared to be strongest in different areas of the park. It really fit in with the younger demographic this park seems to be aimed at.
Dickey-Stephens Park is a good experience. As I stated before, I would not recommend it to families who are looking to take children to a game. The atmosphere is an adult one, especially with features such as the Beer Garden. If you are a fan who really enjoys baseball stadiums for the sake of baseball, this probably is not the park for you. But if you are a casual fan just looking to have a good time, this park will provide an enjoyable evening at the ballpark.
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2 Riverfront Pl
North Little Rock, AR 72114
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