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Howard Johnson Field at Cardinal Park

Johnson City, TN

Home of the Johnson City Cardinals



Howard Johnson Field at Cardinal Park (map it)
111 Legion St
Johnson City, TN 37601

Johnson City Cardinals website

Howard Johnson Field at Cardinal Park website

Year Opened: 1956

Capacity: 3,800

There are no tickets available at this time.


Local Information


Seeing Red in Johnson City

Howard Johnson Field opened in 1956, and is named after the founding director of Johnson City's Parks & Recreation Department. It was renovated in 1994 and again in 2010, and used to be the home field for East Tennessee State University's baseball squad. While a decent park, it is on the small side and located in a smallish town (~65,000 residents as of 2013), and thus lacks the amenities and fan base you might find in other parks.


What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

A surprising number of options given the size, HJF offers all of the classic fare, as well as a couple of unique items, such as the waffle burger and the bologna burger. The prices are reasonable.

There is one main concession stand, located right beneath the bleachers, which offers burgers, hot dogs, pizza (from Mellow Mushroom), chicken sandwiches (from Chick-fil-A), barbecue, nachos, and other snacks such as popcorn, Cracker Jack, etc. In addition, there are a couple of smaller stands for pretzels, ice cream (Dippin' Dots), Italian ice, and beer.

The main concession stand offers Pepsi products, including Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, Brisk Lemonade, Dr. Enuf, Sweet Tea, and Gatorade. While no craft beers are available, there are over a half-dozen varieties, including Rolling Rock, Landshark, Michelob Ultra, Yeungling, Shock Top, as well as Bud, Bud Light, and four flavors of the Bud 'ritas (Lime, Strawberry, etc.).

The waffle burger is a little soggy with all the syrup, so I would just stick to the basics.

Atmosphere    3

Because the crowd is not very big, the atmosphere tends to be a little blasé. However, the staff does a good job of making up for it with various promotions and amenities, such as promotions based on hit movies, a play area for the kids, and a great mascot.

HJF features a main seating area that is covered, as well as two uncovered sets of bleachers on the far side of each dugout, which may have been added later. The first three rows in the main area have plastic bucket-style seats, but are actually not covered; the rest of the seating is metal bleachers. Because the stadium is small, the sightlines are great, and you can walk right up to the netting/fences to take pictures if you want.


The mascot is absolutely amazing, he (or she) walks around the stands throughout the game and even sits among the fans on occasion, playfully pranking them by stealing their caps or drinks, which the fans seem to enjoy. The staff also does a great job with promotions, including one where the players donned new themed uniforms, and a few lucky fans won the same jerseys as giveaways.

Technically, tickets cost a little more in the first three rows, but the stands are rarely full. If you want to sit close, you may as well just buy the cheap seats and move up. However, if the weather is too sunny, or a little on the chilly side, you are better off staying a few rows back to get under cover. I would avoid the stands on the far sides of the dugouts, if possible, as the action is harder to see from there.

Neighborhood    3

There are a number of places near the park where you can grab a bite before or after the game, although the downtown area is a little run-down, and parking is hard to find. Also, the number of one-way streets makes it difficult to get around. Depending on what you are into, there are several different things to do in the area if you want to stay the weekend, such as hiking in one of the nearby parks, visiting a local museum, or checking out one of the local breweries.

About a mile from HJF, there are a number of eateries, most of which are on Main Street. The majority of these are small, local, dive-type places like you might find near a college campus. There are a few gems in the mix, including Main Street Pizza Co, which has a pleasant atmosphere complete with real wooden tables, not too much noise, and lots of indoor and outdoor seating. The prices are decent and they have a great alcohol selection, although there are only a couple of TV screens. If you are looking for something a little more upscale, try Old South on Spring Street - located in a converted warehouse, and part of the events center, Old South specializes in steak and seafood.

Located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains, there are plenty of hiking trails and beautiful scenery near Johnson City, including several parks. There are also a few local museums nearby, such as the George L. Carter Railroad Museum and the Museum of Ancient Brick. There are also a couple of local breweries, including Johnson City Brewery and the brand new Yee-haw Brewery.

There aren't any hotels or motels right near the park, but there are several a couple miles west of HJF on I-26, including DoubleTree, Candlewood, Ramada, Super 8, Red Roof, and Motel 6. The quality of course will vary with the brand, but there are enough options that there should be availability when needed.

Fans    2

The biggest challenge at HJF is that there are not a lot of fans in attendance. On a good day, they can draw well over 2,000, but when the weather is bad (or even when it is too nice), the Cardinals may only draw half that many.

The total capacity at HJF is only 3,800, so even on the best days, the stadium is only about half to two-thirds full, which is typical for a lot of minor league parks.

Not a lot of fans wear team gear, although you do see a few St. Louis Cardinals hats and shirts, which is close enough. Some of the fans really get into the game, but a lot don't - you see a lot of texting and chilling with friends instead of watching the game. In fact, the younger kids seem to enjoy it most, as well as the older adults.

Access    4

If you are coming from the east (through the mountains), Johnson City feels like it is in the middle of nowhere. However, if you are coming from any other direction, you can get to Johnson City via I-26, which intersects with I-81 a few miles to the north. Once you get to the city. HJF is easy to find, as there is not a lot of traffic nearby. The stadium is easy to get around, and parking and bathrooms are easy to find.

Parking is free in a lot right next to the field, although you may have to park further away on busy days if you don't arrive early. There is only one gate to enter the stadium, and ticket sales are cash only - $5 for regular seats, $7 for club seats (the first three rows), and discounted seats for the military, etc. are $4.

The stadium is very easy to get around; there is really only one entrance into the stands, but it is plenty wide enough to accommodate all of the fans. The bathrooms and concessions are outside the stadium proper, meaning you can't see the game while visiting them, but since they are underneath the grandstand, it is a very short walk from your seat. The concourse outside the stadium is not covered, but that's not a big deal, since if it really starts to rain, they will call the game, anyway.

Return on Investment    3

Attending a game at HJF is a pretty cheap date - tickets are only $5 each, parking is free, and concessions are on the cheap side. However, the crowd is small and not all that enthusiastic, and there are not a lot of amenities - there are lots of other minor league parks that would be more fun.

The staff does a good job with what they have to work with - they have a great mascot, and offer lots of promotions during the season to bring in more fans. However, there is probably just not enough of a fan base in the area to create a really spirited crowd.

Extras    2

One point for the very interactive mascot, who mingles with the crowd and tries to make sure the fans have an enjoyable experience.

A second point for the scenery - the Great Smoky Mountains provide a beautiful backdrop from which to enjoy America's national pastime.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking to spend an evening in Johnson City, attending a game at HJF with the Cards is a decent choice. It may not provide a ton of excitement, but the stadium is easy to get around and not very crowded, and it will cost you less than a night at the movies.

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Crowd Reviews

Cardinal Park

Total Score: 3.14

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 2
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 2

Minor League baseball has been played in Johnson City, TN since 1937. Their home is Howard Johnson Field at Cardinal Park, and has been since the ballpark first opened in 1956.

The team in Johnson City has been affiliated with the St Louis Cardinals since 1975. Only the Elizabethton Twins have had a longer affiliation with their parent MLB club (since 1974).

The ballpark is located just a half mile from downtown Johnson City, and you can expect to be among some of the best fans in the Appalachian League. However, the overall ballpark experience still leaves something to be desired.

Some Charm Has Been Lost

Total Score: 3.00

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 2
  • Neighborhood: 2
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 1

With the removal of the hill in right field, some of the charm of Howard Johnson Field has been lost. While it is a fun enough place to take in a game (as all Appy League parks are), there isn't much memorable about this place. The positives : cheap prices, small crowds, good baseball atmosphere. The negatives : all seats are obstructed by netting or fencing, too much bench seating. The city is investing some money to renovate the exterior, but wish they were fixing some of the issues with the interior.


Total Score: 3.14

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 2
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 3

I went to a game there on June 20, 2012. There was a christian singing group for a pregame concert and tickets were $1. The place was packed, they ran out of tickets and just waved you in when you gave them a dollar. By the third inning the place was almost empty, I guess most were there to see the concert. However, the Cardinals send their World Series Trophy to their affiliates, and Johnson City had it at that game. I have a picture of myself standing next to it, one of my favorite pics. Also I had a pleasant experience of sitting next to a local gentleman who spent the last three innings telling me about the Appalachian League. Overall it was a memorable and fun night.

Share your thoughts about Howard Johnson Field at Cardinal Park

Local Food & Drink

Numan's Cafe & Sports Bar  (map it!)

225 E Main St

Johnson City, TN 37604

(423) 926-7665


Tipton Street Pub  (map it!)

110 Tipton St

Johnson City, TN 37604

(423) 434-0306


The Main Street Pizza Company  (map it!)

300 E Main St

Johnson City, TN 37601

(423) 631-0180


Old South Restaurant & Venue Center  (map it!)

601 Spring St

Johnson City, TN 37604

(423) 929-3663


Local Entertainment

Reel to Reel Movie Theatre  (map it!)

130 W Springbrook Dr

Johnson City, TN 37604

(423) 282-2131


Johnson City Brewing Company  (map it!)

300 E Main St

Johnson City, TN 37601

(423) 930-4186


George L. Carter Railroad Museum  (map it!)

113 Campus Center Building

Johnson City, TN 37604

(423) 439-3382



Holiday Inn- Johnson City  (map it!)

101 W Springbrook Dr

Johnson City, TN 37604

(877) 865-6578


DoubleTree Hotel Johnson City  (map it!)

211 Mockingbird Ln

Johnson City, TN 37604

(423) 929-2000



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