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Official Review by Joshua Guiher, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Little League World Series is an interesting sporting event that celebrates 11 and 12 year old athletes. The current format through a series of regional tournaments selects eight teams from the United States and eight International teams to compete in Williamsport, PA every August to become Little League World Champions. The tournament in Williamsport is hard to describe as it isn't a true double elimination tournament, but you wind up with one United States team to play one International team for the championship in a one game situation on the last Sunday every August.
The tournament itself uses two venues, with the main field being Howard J. Lamade Stadium, and the secondary field is Volunteer Stadium. Lamade Stadium is the older field, and holds approximately 10,000 fans in the seats and another 35,000 on the hillside. Lamade Stadium was opened in 1959 and was built with the labor of local college students, and was refurbished most recently in 2006.
Volunteer Stadium was opened in 2001, and seats approximately 5,000 people in bleacher seats. The outfield seating is much more limited at Volunteer Stadium with much less room than Lamade Stadium. As a result, all games that are expected to draw large crowds are moved to Lamade Stadium.
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 menu isn't huge, but there is a great variety and the prices are good, although they have gone up in the past few years to be more in line with standard stadium prices.
The real bargain is the soda prices, which are $1.75 for a regular, $2.75 for a souvenir size and $3 for a large, all Coca-Cola products. Bottled water is $2 for a 20oz bottle. The most expensive item was the "Big Robb" a double meat roast beef on weck sandwich for $8, while the normal roast beef sandwich was $5 or $7 as a combo with a drink and a bag of chips.
Other menu items included pizza ($2.50), pulled pork sandwiches ($5), chicken fingers, hot dogs ($2) and hamburgers among others. The most unique stand was a make your own slushie stand, which had a long line all night. They offered eight different flavors of slushie and you just bought the size cup you wanted and filled it up with whatever flavor or combination of flavors you wanted. They also had various snack items such as cracker jacks, funnel cake and cotton candy.
The atmosphere is awesome. The kids are so excited to be playing for the world title, the parents are cheering on every kid even after a strikeout or error and ESPN is there to draw attention to the entire event. The only type of game atmosphere I could compare it to is a college football game at one of the service academies; one of the best you can experience anywhere.
Williamsport is a small town, so you aren't going to have a ton of chain restaurants to select from. In fact, you can't even find a chain hotel so look to stay down the road in Danville.
If you want to grab a beer, try Bullfrog Brewery. They have a great collection of odd brews on tap and a decent menu. When looking for food to be the priority, then you will want to dine at DiSalvo's, an Italian restaurant with great food.
With the focus of the Little League World Series being on kids 11 and 12 years old, the bulk of the fans are going to be families, often with multiple kids. While the kids often run around, they usually do so on the outfield hill at Lamade Stadium, so if you avoid that area, it isn't a bother. With the exception of the semi-finals and final, seating in the stands is first come first served so you should be able to find an area by yourself if you so desire.
As I stated above in the atmosphere section, the fans are always into the game, cheering for the kids even if they make a mistake. You aren't going to run into drunk people or see fights in the stands between fans.
Parking is free, shuttle rides are free, golf cart rides are free. The area around the stadiums has plenty of room to move around and concession stand lines move fast. Bathrooms are kept real nice and clean. I don't know what else you could ask for in terms of access.
Admission is free to go along with the free parking and shuttle rides if you don't want to walk. You can't ask for a cheaper sporting event. In fact, Little League boosts that a family of four can park, enter, and buy a program, four drinks and four hot dogs for under $30. And the program counts for $10 of that, so you can enjoy the games, eat and drink for under $20 if you skip buying the program.
The ESPN baseball tonight mobile studio is set up on the concession stand concourse if you want to watch that or get on TV. There is a kids' area to keep the little ones entertained if you need it. Kellogg's brings Tony the Tiger for photo shoots. The Little League Museum is at the top of the hill at Lamade Stadium so you can visit that if it rains. There is a reptile zoo down the street if you want to get away from baseball for a little bit. I could keep going but I think you get the idea.
If you have a kid who plays Little League or wants to someday, a trip to Williamsport for the Little League World Series is a must. Even if you can't make it for the finals matchup, make a day of the museum and multiple games going on at both stadiums.
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341 E 4th St
Williamsport, PA 17701
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