Since its opening in April 2000, Fifth Third Field, home of the Dayton Dragons, has attracted crowds that have filled the park. In fact, they have led Single-A minor league attendance each year since the stadium opened, and surpassed the consecutive sellout streak in North American sports in July 2011 (the record belonged previously to the Portland Trail Blazers at 814 consecutive home sellouts).
Visiting fans would be well advised to get their tickets in advance when they travel to Fifth Third Field. You are sure to find filled seats, and while the ballpark itself is not spectacular, it is a very cozy stadium with no noticeable flaws.
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The Dragons do something very special with their concession stands. They allow non-profit organizations to run the stands each game and to benefit from the profits. It is an outstanding fundraiser and makes a huge difference in the community. More than $250,000 will find its way into various good causes and community activities.
There are some drawbacks to that set-up however. These volunteers may or may not be very experienced in food preparation, so lines can be a bit slow and the selection is somewhat limited.
Most of the concession stands offer a consistent selection as you move through the concourse. There's a nod to the team's parent club, with Skyline chili offered on hot dogs (the Skyline Coney- $3.50). You can also find BBQ pulled pork from another Cincinnati institution, the Montgomery Inn ($6). You'll also find regular hot dogs ($3.50), brats ($5), and Buffalo chicken bites ($5) among the typical stadium treats.
The best smells in the ballpark emanate from the 1st Base Grill (I'll let you guess where it's located) where they grilled up Philly cheese steaks, or chicken cheese steaks ($6.25), along with Italian Sausages. I tried a Philly cheese steak, and thought it was worth the price.
There are several draft beers found throughout including Molson Canadian, Stella Artois, Shock Top, Sam Adams, and Budweiser products. Sixteen-ounce beers cost $5.75 or $6.50 depending how exotic your choice. Pepsi is the soda provider with two sizes, $3.50 or $4.25, the latter comes in a souvenir cup.
If it is a particularly cold or rainy night, fans can step into the Fifth Third Cafe (at the end of the covered concourse down the first base line) and inside for a beverage and view of the game. The first base side definitely has the more interesting options, so if you are choosing seats, keep that in mind if proximity to good smells and good tastes are important to you.
The Dayton Dragons do a fantastic job of creating a fan-friendly experience which is perfect for baseball fans and families alike. I was able to take a tour of the facility and was impressed with the devotion of resources behind the scenes to the visuals, audio, and in-game entertainment. It really showed during the game.
There's your typical array of games of silly fun that you will find at many minor league parks, but it is all flawlessly executed with a good cast of mascots. There's Heater and Gem, male and female dragons, who are the stars of the show. You'll also find appearances occasionally from the "super hero" Roofman who retrieves balls that land on the roof, and magically turns them into squishy balls which are thrown to the audience. Finally, there's Wink, an inflatable, ogre-ish monster. On the day I visited he went through a fun routine with an opposing player where he plays fetch.
Every seat in the stadium is red or green plastic with arm rests, cup holders, and above average leg room. Left field you'll find a short porch called the Dragon's Lair, where fans can get a seat and a hat for $11. There are three covered party areas for groups of 50, as well as three berm seating areas, including a large section in right field for fans preferring to witness their baseball from their own stretch of grass.
There's a large modern scoreboard in left field with two Dragons on either side. The Dragons' eyes light up red and smoke comes from their mouths when a Dayton player hammers a home run.
You are able to walk the entire stadium along the concourse, and there is a children's play area in center for families who want to take a break from the baseball and let the kids expend some energy.
Fifth Third Field is embedded into downtown Dayton, so you should find plenty to choose from within walking distance of the stadium. Immediately next to the stadium, past the right field foul pole, you'll find Brixx Ice Company. They offer pretty good sandwiches and very good fries, and can be a good place to spend some time either before or after a game.
Oregon District is an interesting little neighborhood, located just a short drive away, and where I chose to spend the majority of my time while in Dayton. The Oregon Express is a sports bar serving really delicious pizza and a good selection of beers. This is a good anchor for a nice little stretch along 5th Street.
If you want something a little more upscale, I can recommend CoCo's Bistro. There are several tempting entrees here inspired by favors of the Southwest, New Orleans, and the American South. I tried the BBQ duck which was accompanied by spicy apple slaw, a wonderful rosemary & blue cheese biscuit, and interesting spinach chips (flash fried in a deep-frying so they taste like potato chips, but are much healthier). They also had a good wine list, and very friendly service.
The sellout streak is an amazing accomplishment, and credit is due to both the Dragons organization for the work that they do, as well as the loyal fan base that has sprung up both quickly and consistently to support their team. This ball club is part of their community and the community clearly loves them.
The affiliation with the nearby Cincinnati Reds certainly helps that devotion, but it seems like the team does a really good job of encouraging the overall entertainment value of the baseball experience at Fifth Third Field.
Parking is ample around the stadium. Many nearby businesses utilize their parking lots for extra income, but don't unfairly take advantage of the patrons. You should easily find parking for $2-$5 within a block of Fifth Third Field. I-75 is within a few blocks so you should be able to quickly get on or off the road.
The park's concourse is at street level, making this a very accessible stadium for anyone with disabilities or who simply wants to be able to move around easily at the game.
Restrooms are some of the most spacious that you will find, and very clean throughout.
Tickets are available online through Ticketmaster, so expect to pay that lovely fee if you are purchasing tickets in advance (and you should). Tickets range from $12-$17 once that fee is factored in. I would recommend either option, but would probably choose the top price in this case and shoot for the first base line for the best food options. Food is reasonably priced, and average to slightly above average, and paring is reasonable. Overall, I think the price point is just about what you should expect, and you will get your money's worth.
Even though there were some delays with the food, I really applaud what the Dragons are doing as an organization with the concession stands. It really is a great way to make a significant difference and investment in the community.
In the outfield you will find some stretches where you can stand and watch the action while placing your hot dog or beer on a ledge. Many stadiums have this feature, and it really is something I appreciate.
Fifth Third Field has been fitted into a small city block, and because of that, you could easily catch a game without entering the ballpark at all. A walk along the sidewalk gives you a very good look at the game going on inside.
I was very impressed with the friendliness of the staff. Not only were they kind enough to take the time to walk me around, but everyone that I interacted with at the game was friendly. It is a small touch that usually takes a lot of work by the team, but can make a big difference in the overall experience.
There are a handful of minor league parks that have stood out during my travels, and Fifth Third Field, home of the Dayton Dragons, is certainly one of them. If I lived in or near Dayton I would assuredly have season tickets, which is about as high a compliment as I could pay. Plus, they'll soon be setting that historic mark of consecutive sellouts, meaning that as the streak continues, you will be part of history as a new record is set each game.
Fifth Third Field is a must see. If you live anywhere within 100 miles you have no excuse! There's something for everyone Bring along your wife and neighbor kids too. Everyone will have a blast!
Very highly recommended!
336 E 5th St
Dayton, OH 45402
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