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Official Review by Harrison Huntley, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Edenton, North Carolina, is a small town that sits right on the Albemarle Sound. Edenton became the first permanent settlement in North Carolina when residents from Jamestown migrated south. Just like the town in which it is located, Hicks Field is not well-known outside of the area. Hicks Field was built in 1939 as a WPA project, next to the local high school. Since then, it has hosted multiple teams in different levels of minor league and collegiate baseball.
The Edenton Steamers play in the summer collegiate Coastal Plain League. They are one of the biggest events in town and the main reason for that is the local residents. The fans really come out and bring a certain high school feel. Both the historic stadium and the friendly locals create an atmosphere that any baseball fan will enjoy.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Considering the size of the venue, there are more food and drink offerings than expected. The one concession stand offers a large range of usual stadium foods, as well as some unique treats. There are hot dogs and hamburgers that are cooked on the spot by the Edenton fire department. Hicks Field also offers a large selection of snacks, along with Pizza Hut pizza by the slice or whole pie. Pepsi is the sponsor of the Steamers, and is sold for $2 a bottle. After the meal, Sno-Cones are a fan favorite. The Sno-Cone stand offers over 20 flavors and a handful of toppings.
The Steamers also offer good weeknight deals. Tuesdays are Two for Tuesday, where you can get two hot dogs for $2 or two hamburgers for $4. Thursdays are Thrifty Thursdays, where you can get $1 peanuts or $1 hot dogs.
Even without the deals, the prices are still good. With the exception of the whole pizza, nothing costs more than $3.50. While it may not be the greatest value, it certainly beats many other stadiums.
It's worth noting that Hicks Field is shared with the local Holmes High School. In fact, the field is actually built into the campus of the school. Walking into the stadium, you would expect to get a high school atmosphere. However, you get a distinctly different feeling the moment you are greeted at the gate. Everyone at the park seems as though they expect to know you. The staff is very friendly and they contribute to the small-town feel. I'd guess that more than 90% of the fans are local residents. Many stop in the concourse to have conversations with friends and no one seems to mind.
The stadium itself fits right in with the small-town atmosphere. The scoreboard is hand-operated, and unlike most hand operated scoreboards, the operators stand outside and hang numbers on the scoreboard. The operators are volunteers and also hang "K" signs for strikeouts.
The between-inning games feature the usual dizzy bat races and tire rolling contests. They are nice, but the person who really gives the stadium life is the PA announcer. For every foul ball, he gives an ad for insurance. He also gives shout outs to players' families and has other fun sayings that really make the atmosphere enjoyable.
The entire stadium is general admission, and there isn't a bad seat. The stadium was expanded when it became a CPL facility, so the original bleachers are wood, while the additions are metal. The seats behind home plate have the luxury of a roof and a nice breeze from the fans mounted on the support beams. Most of the seats have an obstructed view of some part of the field because of the fence and net that surrounds the playing surface. Also, Hicks Field has a lot of bugs so be sure to pack bug spray. A good sign of a stadium having a lot of bugs is when the merchandise table sells bug spray.
This is a common theme among CPL stadiums. With college stadiums, you can always count on something being nearby, because most are on a college campus. With professional stadiums, there is a much bigger draw, and are therefore more attractive for restaurants. Because CPL stadiums are mostly in small towns and the season only lasts a few months, restaurants and bars don't always surround the stadiums. Hicks Field is no exception. The neighborhood consists of the high school and some old houses. The town of Edenton has some good places to dine, but nothing near the stadium.
Down near the waterfront, there are a few local options, including the Downtown Café and Soda Shop. This place has homemade chicken salad that is made twice a week by a long-time resident and former owner of a different Edenton restaurant. She comes in twice a week and makes her famous chicken salad according to its secret recipe.
While almost all the fans are local, there are two different types of fans at Hicks Field. The first are the fans who are really into the game. Some of these fans keep score and others call out players' nicknames. These fans are locked in to the action and are similar to fans found at many other venues. The other type of fans at Hicks Field are the ones there for the community experience. These fans mostly use the game to catch up with friends and family and just have a great night at the ballpark. While they might not be the most attentive to the action, they know the appropriate times to cheer.
Edenton is not exactly the easiest place to get to. US-17 and NC-32 run into the city, but the town is still around two hours from the nearest city (Raleigh, NC) and about 90 minutes from I-95. What saves this rating from being lower is the availability of parking around the stadium. The benefit of being near a high school is the parking. There is a lot of free parking with a very short walk to the stadium.
$6 tickets ($5 for students and seniors) are available at Hicks Field, along with hot dogs and drinks for $2 each. The benefit of these leagues is being able to enjoy a baseball game for a good price, and that's exactly what you get at Hicks Field. The Coastal Plain League as a whole generally follows suit with these prices, which is great for families who want to enjoy a game without paying an arm and a leg to do so.
One of the more charismatic mascots I've seen in the CPL, Sam the Clam is at the games to interact with Steamers fans and participate in the nightly base-race. In addition to the base-race, there are several other between inning games which really do a good job of bringing families out to the game. Let me again say that the staff is incredibly friendly. Every member of the staff that I talked to was more than willing to carry on a conversation and wanted to help me any way they could.
The Edenton Steamers really get the mission of the CPL. For the fans, the league is meant to give local families an inexpensive, quality way to enjoy baseball with their friends and families. Everyone from the staff to the fans seems to get this idea and provides a good atmosphere. While Edenton may not be the most ideal place for someone from out of town, the fans and staff really make the game an enjoyable one.
Member Review by imlawoman on Aug 09, 2013
Historic Hicks Field is a terrific place.
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