The state of Ohio is probably known more as a football state overall than a baseball state. However, if I were to recommend you take a minor league ballpark road trip through one state, it would be Ohio. There is a prevalence of unique downtown parks in the Buckeye State, and the home of the Toledo Mud Hens is no exception.
Fifth Third Field (one of two ballparks with that name, as the Dayton Dragons play at their own Fifth Third Field) was opened in 2002, and sits just two blocks away from the Huntington Center, home of the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye. There are many great examples of downtown minor league ballparks that are meant to lead a revitalization, and this is one of them.
The Mud Hens have been the AAA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers since 1987, but the history between those two franchises dates back as far as the 1934 season. The team announced in late 2011 that the affiliation will continue through at least 2016.
Baseball dates back as far as 1883 in Toledo. In 1884, Moses “Fleetwood” Walker played for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association, and became the first African-American player to play in the major leagues. He went on to play in only 42 games professionally. The corner near the main entrance to Fifth Third Field is known as Moses Fleetwood Walker Square, and there is a plaque to honor the pioneer.
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The food selection at Fifth Third Field is fairly standard, with a couple of surprises. The burritos ($5) that they serve are very good, and I would certainly recommend grabbing one (along with a fistful of napkins). The buffalo chicken wrap is also very tasty ($6). I would also recommend the pretzel braids, new to the concession menu in 2012. Toppings can make these either a savory or sweet treat.
I really like their Polish dog ($4), and the brat ($4) is decent as well. Snacks like popcorn, peanuts, cracker jack, and cotton candy are reasonably priced ($3). Pepsi is the available soft drink option, served in various sizes ($2, $3, $4). Hot chocolate and coffee are on hand for those cool spring games ($2).
Beer is also served in various sizes, which is nice to help keep your cost down if you're just looking for a small cold one during the game. Budweiser and Bud Light are your macro options ($4.50, $6.50, and $7.50). Craft beers and Corona can also be found.
Overall, there is a good variety and quality, with reasonable price points when it comes to the food and beverage selection at Fifth Third Field.
There are a lot of positive things happening that contribute to a great atmosphere at a Toledo Mud Hens game. Because of the tradition of baseball in Toledo, there is a certain nostalgic vibe that one gets from the minute you park your car. There also is the downtown energy which contributes to your excitement. I'll take a walk around a city block over a walk through a parking lot any day. There's a kid friendly vibe, due in part to the dual mascot punch from Muddy and Muddonna, as well as the kids play area and statues of children enjoying baseball found inside and outside the park. Finally, there's the baseball. The Mud Hens have won four division titles since moving into their new stadium (2002, 2005, 2006, and 2007).
Fifth Third Field is a very walkable ballpark, and I would recommend taking a lap around the exterior before entering, and a lap once you are inside the gates. Beyond the left center field wall, there is a sculpture called "Who's Up?" which was dedicated by the artist Emanuel H. Enriquez in 2002. The sculpture is meant to be "based on the year 1927 when the Mud Hens won their first pennant, [but] Americans of all ages can reflect their own era of baseball," according to the artist.
To me it helps to set the tone of what baseball is all about, a childhood wonder and innocence that we strive to recapture every time we go to the ballpark.
An additional sculpture entitled "I Got It!" by Frank C. Gaylord II (probably best known for his National Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.) can be found inside the ballpark along the left field concourse, and it furthers this idea and feeling even more. Nothing brings out a crazy look in a child's eye like the quest to find a baseball.
This is a small ballpark by AAA standards, with a seating capacity just over 10,000. There is very limited seating in the upper deck, allowing for that more intimate feeling that is often associated with lower levels of minor league baseball.
The legroom in the midnight blue plastic seats is average, and there is a cupholder for each patron. Seats are angled down the line to focus on the infield, making for an excellent viewing experience wherever you choose to sit. Section 109 is the center seating (209 in the upper deck), so you can choose where you like to sit from there. I personally like section 209, but really you should be good regardless of where you choose to find a spot.
The Roost is the seating section located near the right field foul pole. Here you'll find an indoor group party area. The section is meant to conjure images of the short home run porch at Tiger Stadium.
I love the options available to you in the neighborhood surrounding Fifth Third Field. I certainly wouldn't think of Toledo, Ohio as a tourist destination, but if you decide to come to a Toledo Mud Hens game, you'll find a plethora of options, all of which offer a high quality experience.
I'll start with Pizza Papalis, a Greek-style pizza place with a wonderful selection of craft beers. The pizza is outstanding, and I'm a sucker for ordering the saganaki (The Greek cheese which gets lit on fire tableside).
Another classic is Tony Packo's, which has been an institution in the Glass City for more than 80 years. They serve bar food with a Hungarian twist, and also have a good beer selection. It is a convenient spot, and I have often found free street parking just across the street. They have great chili, which I would recommend.
I have also visited, and can recommend the Blarney Irish Pub (typical Irish pub), the Spaghetti Warehouse (accessible Italian food), and Ye Olde Durty Bird (13 beers on tap with solid burgers and appetizers).
If you visit in April, you may be able to catch a Toledo Walleye hockey game just down the street, or try to combine a doubleheader with the Toledo Rockets baseball team over at Scott Park Field. I have also done doubleheaders with the parent Detroit Tigers club at Comerica Park on the same day as a Toledo Mud Hens game, an easy one hour drive.
Toledo may as well be annexed by the state of Michigan. You'll find many more Tigers fans than you will Cleveland Indians or Cincinnati Reds fans in Toledo, and more people root for Michigan than Ohio State. That said, these folks are baseball fans and are interested in their team. It seems like many of them also follow the Tigers, as I heard a lot of discussion about the parent ball club during my most recent visits.
Street parking is free after 5pm during the week, and there are some spots available. The parking lots nearby generally will cost you $5, so it is a very reasonable fee. If you see a lot that charges more than that, then drive another block and you should be able to save half of that.
The restrooms are reasonably clean and I have not experienced a wait, so there should be no reason to miss any of the play on the field, unless the stadium is at or near capacity.
Club level seats are only $12, and represent the highest priced ticket at Fifth Third Field. All other seats are only $9. Food prices are very reasonable, and parking is free if you're lucky, and only $5 if you're unlucky. All told, this is a great value and perfect for families, groups, or just the lone individual who needs to see some baseball (yep, that's me).
One extra point for having perhaps the best logo in minor league baseball, and a frontrunner for one of the best in all of sports.
An additional point for the great statues found inside and outside of the stadium.
One additional point for Moses Fleetwood Walker and his story. He wasn't the greatest of baseball players, but his story is pretty amazing. Check out his Wikipedia page before going to a Mud Hens game.
A final extra point for the Muddy Times, a free program available behind home plate in the concourse.
Fifth Third Field is one of the absolute best total baseball experiences in minor league baseball. Toledo is easily accessible from southern Michigan, as well as Central, Western, and Northern Ohio. It is worth a trip to see the Mud Hens in their beautiful home.
Built to replace the architecturally-bland Ned Skeldon Stadium, Fifth Third Field was completed in 2002. Instantly, it drew rave reviews from fans and ballpark connoisseurs.
Newsweek writer Mark Starr wrote Fifth Third was the best venue to watch minor league baseball and other publications gushed at unique features within the new park. The home of the Toledo Mud Hens became an overnight success - a shining example for smaller-scale stadiums that followed.
Great place- wonderful location, good food, and outstanding baseball fans. Ohio is home to several wonderful parks, and this one is right up with the best!
I've been to Fifth Third Field many times and always had a great time. They have great "between inning" fun like goofy contests and races, they have a humorous PA or public address announcer. The atmosphere is very neutral when nothing's going on, but it get's louder at times when something exciting's happening and with that, on the video screen, it'll read "get louder" with a "noise meter" as well as Muddy the Mud Hen putting his hands around both of his ears one at a time from left to right reading "I cant hear you". The food is so delicious especially the french fries. When you go, I recommend that you bring comfortable walking shoes, money for the "swamp shop" gift store and a seat pad. it's fun and inexpensive, so why pass up a wonderful opportunity such as this. So get out this season(2012) for a Toledo Mud Hens Baseball Game.
I have long wanted to "experience the joy of Mudville," as it says on their tickets, and was finally able to do so this past April. I found the stadium to be every bit as nice as I had heard about and hoped for, and the neighborhood to be even better than I expected. It was bitterly cold when I went--nothing the team could have done about that--but it was curious that main promotional item being pushed was a local ice cream. Maybe call an audible when it's 30 degrees out?! That aside, it was a great experience, & I can't wait to get back!
601 Monroe St
Toledo, OH 43604
519 Monroe St
Toledo, OH 43604
3154 Navarre Ave
Oregon, OH 43616