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Official Review by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Fluor FIeld at the West End is the home of the Greenville Drive of the South Atlantic League. The 5,700-seat stadium debuted on April 6, 2006 and borrows many elements from its parent club, the Boston Red Sox, and their home Fenway Park. Its near identical dimensions with Pesky’s Pole in right field, the Green Monster, and the singing of “Sweet Caroline” have made many refer to the park as “Little Fenway.” However, there are also attributes inspired by the city of Greenville as many of the bricks used to construct both the stadium and the apartments in back of the outfield were reclaimed from local textile mills. Also, famous players and past teams are highlighted throughout the concourse with “Shoeless” Joe Jackson being paramount. Some even say his ghost is in the outfield.
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There are several concession stands on the main concourse. All of your basic ballpark food items are here from hot dogs, burgers, nachos, popcorn and peanuts. Subway, Tony C's Pizza, Chick-fil-A, and Que's BBQ are among the choices. The highlights here are the prices; a barbecue plate costs $8.50, a chicken sandwich is $4.50, and a calzone is $5. The basic hot dog is only $2.50 and is among the best I have had in recent memory. Sweet Caroline's is busy throughout the game with long lines serving homemade ice cream by the scoop. Other highlights are the Chicago style hot dog, mucho nachos, and the family pack of four hot dogs, four drinks and a tub of popcorn for $16.
Fluor FIeld at the West End atmosphere is impressive the moment you near the facility. The downtown streets are busy, restaurants adjacent to the park are filled with customers and lines of people are gathering around the entrances. The ballpark utilizes almost every nook and cranny of the facility to adhere to both the younger and older fan base.
For the kids, there is a covered playground near the left field entrance, speed pitch in the Heritage Zone in right field, and wide screen televisions with various games in the Power Alley section. If that does not keep them busy, there are the two mist machines for hot nights and the grass seating down the third base line where they can stretch out.
For the adults, there is the beautiful 500 Home Run Club outdoor bar that features full service draft beer and wine, table seating, and outdoor couches. The two level bar should satisfy both your baseball and non-baseball fan alike, the kids are welcomed, and it is free with the cost of your ticket. This is one of the nicest bar settings opened to the public in any minor league stadium.
The main gift shop is situated in its own building outside of the stadium and also houses the ticket operations. Inside the park, there are two more gift shops. There is a ton of both Drive and Red Sox paraphernalia. The selection of shirts, caps, and stuffed animals are wide, vast, and very impressive for this level of minor league baseball (Class A).
There are also many photographs along the concourse of former players and teams of Greenville's past that includes Nolan Ryan, Jim Rice, John Smoltz, the 1992 Greenville Braves and, of course, Shoeless Joe.
The downtown park is situated near several eateries that seem to be mostly enjoyed before the ballgame, and to a lesser extent afterwards. The Liberty Tap Room Bar & Grill is a good stop where there is outdoor seating and is directly behind the left field wall. Adjacent to the tap room are Mexican and Japanese restaurants that feature sidewalk seating.
Across the street is Mac's that serves up barbecue and plenty of beer on tap from local breweries in the south. Downtown Greenville offers a total of 90 restaurants, with retail shops, and historic districts to visit. It is definitely a city that is worth taking a look at if you have a few extra hours to spare.
In Greenville "Shoeless" Joe Jackson is a legend and there is a museum dedicated to him just steps from the ballpark near the Heritage Zone. The museum is his last place of residence before his death in 1951 and it houses a wealth of paraphernalia from his playing days and is open on Saturdays between 10am-2pm or by appointment. The house itself was actually moved three miles from its original location in town.
There has been a lot of great baseball played in Greenville and when the hometown Drive walked 11 batters during my most recent visit, fans were vocal on their disapproval. Both young and old fans had a rough night watching their team lose 9-4. With the ballpark being as entertaining as it is, it could have easily been acceptable for most of the populace in attendance to merely not care. This was not the case as the folks here in Greenville are baseball fans.
The best bet to arrive at the ballpark is using your trusty GPS system. Yes, there are $5 lots scattered as you approach Fluor Field, but there is also a free parking lot that is a little bit of walk. However, take advantage of the free trolley rides from County Square that drop you off at the right field entrance. It is a pleasantly wonderful way at arriving at the ballpark. If you are lucky, and I was, you may find free street parking after 6PM, but they're at a premium. The moral of all of this is you can park for free at a Greenville Drive game as long as you're willing to walk a bit, or wait for the trolley.
Tickets to a Drive game are among the most affordable in all of baseball. The tickets range from $6-$8 and are a bargain. If you are in favor of an actual seat, then proceed to buy either a $7 or $8 ticket. The food is a bargain and diverse, parking is free, and you get to enjoy a night out with friends and family.
Inexpensive food, activities for the children, cheap ticket prices, copious amounts of team merchandise, and beautiful aesthetics in blending into the downtown landscape make this ballpark one of the best in the nation.
Fluor Field at the West End is one of those ballparks that serves the needs of many individuals who inhabit a ballgame. There is sure to be something inside or outside the ballpark that will please the most finicky person. The folks at the Drive do an amazing job of creating an atmosphere that every minor league team yearns for.
Member Review by brian on May 10, 2012
One of the coolest things about minor league baseball is all the attached history. Clubs become part of the fabric of a city, and can hold the same affiliation for decades. It is not too often, though, that a club's history spans two states and three cities like that of the Greenville Drive.
The club got its start in Shelby, North Carolina, in the late 1970s as a Reds affiliate, then carried their eventual Mets affiliation to Columbia, South Carolina, in 1983. After 20-plus years in Columbia and affiliations with the Mets and Red Sox, the team was moved to a new park in Greenville, built after the Braves ended their affiliation to move to Pearl, Mississippi. The Drive (named for the city's automotive history and association with BMW and Michelin) wheeled into Greenville in 2005, spending a year in the old Greenville Municipal Stadium before opening Fluor Field. The park that made the Braves leave and drew such disagreement in the city now leads the charge in a revitalized downtown Greenville.
Member Review by oldskoolberk on Feb 13, 2014
After being a part of "Braves Country" for years, the Braves took their AA team to Mississippi and Greenville took the Capital City Bombers (in Columbia) and then named them the Drive after the BMW plant near there. Could have been called the Shoes or the Joes in honor of Greenville native Joe Jackson, but with that whole Black Sox thing, kinda messed that up.
I love this park. It is a great minor league experience for anybody who loves Minor League baseball. The idea of making it a mini-Fenway was a neat one, though I know some who scoff at the idea, but remember this a Red Sox farm team, so might as well try to get used to the idea of playing at Fenway. Definitely worth a trip to see the Drive.
FOOD/BEVERAGE: Variety is solid with "Sweet Caroline's" Ice Cream, which is a big hit, though I had a stale waffle cone when I ate it. You also have BBQ, Nachos, Pizza, and the standard fare. I tried a pizza though and it was on the disappointing side. Not the greatest of places for food quality though.
ATMOSPHERE: The place has a nice baseball history and they show it. You do feel like you are in a classic Minor League town.
NEIGHBORHOOD: If you are behind the left field monster, you have some places to eat. There is a nice place right behind the wall, where it is a nice place to eat, and some of the best burgers around. You do have some other places around, but not too many and you are close by to a mall, but the one behind the monster is definitely worth it.
FANS: Into the game from first pitch to the last out. And it is Red Sox lite in terms of that.
ACCESS: Not off any major interstate, but it is easy enough. You can park at the mall for free, though nobody is watching, but most of the fans did it so it must not be that much of a concern.
ROI: Tickets are fairly inexpensive as you can get seats behind home plate for about $10. Prices for food & souvenirs aren't too high so you get a lot for what you pay for on this one.
EXTRAS: Mini-Fenway is a great idea especially for a Red Sox farm team. You have good seating all throughout and you have a nod to some of the best baseball players to come out of the Greenville area. The Joe Jackson birthplace & museum is next door, but come very early for that as it closes 3-4 hours before gametime.
315 Augusta St
Greenville, SC 29615
1 Augusta St
Greenville, SC 29601
941 S Main St
Greenville, SC 29601
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