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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
Forty-three miles from Chicago, in the small suburban town of Geneva, waits a nice baseball experience. Fifth Third Bank Ballpark is an unremarkable stadium, but filled with great food and drink, so the sum experience leaves fans feeling like they experienced a great minor league park.
The Kane County Cougars have been a continuous minor league franchise since 1952. The team originated in Decatur, Illinois, and moved to Wausau, Wisconsin in the mid-1970's. In 1991, the Cougars found their current home in Geneva, Illinois. Since that time they have been affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles, Florida Marlins, Oakland Athletics, and Kansas City Royals. Beginning the 2013 season, the team is an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.
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 most impressive part of the concessions at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark is the selection of beers. Most notably there are the Two Brothers Brewery selections from nearby Warrenville, Illinois.
Skip the traditional hot dog and go for a souped up sausage. The Italian Beef smells great, but it turns out to be large, but rather dry and void of personality. Don't miss the elephant ear stand down the left field line, made fresh with either cinnamon or powdered sugar.
There is a good baseball atmosphere at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark, with just the right mix of minor league shenanigans and a focus on the game action. Only the first eight rows have actual seats, with metal bleachers filling out the rest of the seating area. This makes the effort for good tickets well worth the extra cost.
There's a great family feeling to the park with a playground and moonwalk located in right center field.
There's a nice little downtown area within a mile or so from the park. The River Lane Pub is good if you want to grab a drink, and Atwater's is nice if you want something a little bit fancier.
My recommendation goes to The Little Owl Restaurant. They have a real good beer selection with 10 served on tap and 25 more in bottles. They also have just about every fried food you could hope for with a sampler platter of jalapeno poppers, calamari, potato skins, onion rings, and mozzarella sticks available.
It was a cold and slightly rainy day when I visited so it was hard to tell if the fan output was affected by the weather. With that caveat in mind, the fans were a bit of a disappointment with very few seemingly watching the game.
There is a large, free parking lot that is an easy walk away from the gates, and bathrooms are clean and plentiful. The concourses are wide enough to make for a pleasurable walk from foul pole to foul pole. Editor's Note: We have received reports that parking is now $5 per game, so please be sure to have some cash on hand if you're headed to a Kane County Cougars game.
Box seats go for $12, and while I would recommend paying the extra $2 to get a seat rather than a bleacher spot, it is pushing it as far as the price. Food feels a little expensive as well, so while you can expect a pretty good baseball experience, I still feel as though you'll pay just a little too much for that experience.
One extra point awarded for the really friendly and helpful staff, a sign of good management of the franchise.
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