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Official Review by Jim Folsom, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Daytona Cubs are the defending champions in the Florida State League beginning this 2012 season. In fact, they have won the championship in this league twice in the last four years and five times overall. So if you’re a Cubs fan and you’ve been waiting all your life to see your Cubbies win a championship, maybe you just need to pay a visit to Daytona Beach. It’s Cubs baseball like you like it. It’s in a historic old ballpark only three months newer than Wrigley Field with loyal fans and a great atmosphere, but here the home team wins a few.
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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".
This is one of the best parts about going to the Cubs games. On Mondays, the Cubs host "Belly Buster" Mondays, where $11.00 gets you a ticket to the game, and all the hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, popcorn, and peanuts you can eat. I had to stop going to Cubs games on Mondays when my pants no longer fit right. Thursdays are equally easy on the wallet and rough on the waistline. That's when the Cubbies have "Thirsty Thursdays". All 12 oz drafts (or sodas) are $1 and 32 oz are $3.25. I know it is cheaper to buy the three small beers than the one large one, but have you ever tried carrying nine beers back to the grandstands? It's worth the extra 75¢ for the convenience.
On regular nights such as Tuesdays or Wednesdays, or any other non-Mondays or Thursdays, the ballpark fare is pretty good. They have a grill on a River Walk area where you can get a good burger. They also have a picnic area where you can get a group together and they will cook out for you. Ribs, burgers, dogs...whatever goes good on a grill.
The concession stands have your normal hot dogs, burgers, popcorn, pizza, nachos, and peanuts along with water, sodas, and beer. There are many choices of beers as well, not just Bud or Miller, but imports as well as many domestics.
The atmosphere at the Cubs games is great. I've lived in Daytona Beach my whole life and believe me, it is a crappy sports town. Events such as high school football never sell out. The Ocean Center has had many failed minor league sports such as hockey, basketball, and indoor football, none of which ever had a following. Even minor league baseball teams never made it very long before moving on. There have been farm teams since I've been around from the Dodgers, Astros, Royals, even the Montreal Expos spring training was held there. But nothing has ever lasted as long as the Cubs.
The Cubs games are actually one of THE places to go when you live in Daytona Beach now. The fans show up and they are actually cheering for the home team. Part of it is probably because it's the Cubs; the Chicago Cubs have some of sports' most loyal fans. Part of it, though, is they do a great job with the promotions such as "Belly Buster Mondays" and "Thirsty Thursday". Once you get people in the park and you don't break their wallets, they come back.
The Cubs have been in Daytona Beach for close to two decades now. That is by far the longest any team has stayed here. They even have a booster club; one of them is nicknamed "Front Row Joe". He sits in the box seats near home plate. He has not missed a game since 1995, a streak that is now over 1100 games. He goes out to left field before every home game and changes the number on the left field wall where the Cubs are keeping count of his streak.
The only negatives I can think of is that it is sometimes difficult to find parking. That's the one drawback from hosting large crowds. Also, it will sometimes get a bit chilly there early in the season. The ballpark is surrounded by water and at times the wind really blows in from the ocean and makes it chilly.
The neighborhood was once dilapidated as things moved west to the outskirts of town. But the city put a lot of effort into renovating the downtown area, much of which was concentrated on the ballpark itself. The River Walk area is nice. It's a museum-like tribute to Jackie Robinson, with many of his exploits highlighted with different "exhibits" such as a basketball court and a long jump pit. Around the ballpark, there are many restaurants and bars within walking distance if you and your friends want to do something after the game.
The fans show up for Cubs games. Most nights they draw a crowd of 3,000 or better. They routinely lead the FSL in attendance even though they play in the oldest ballpark. Most FSL teams play in Major League spring training sites in stadiums that look like big league stadiums without the upper decks, yet the Cubs still outdraw them all. Why?
I know people who don't even follow sports who come to the Cubs games. They come to fill up on food on Mondays, or beer on Thursdays, or just because JRB is the place to be. The only beef I might have with some of them is they are not paying attention to the game so much as they came there to party, especially on Thursdays.
It is very easy to get to Jackie Robinson Ball Park. It's in between Florida State Road A1A and U.S. Route 1 just off of International Speedway Boulevard. From ISB, you have a straight shot to Interstate 4 to go back towards Orlando or I-95. But you will have to walk a bit for parking. Most of the parking is across the street behind left field.
It would be difficult to find a better ROI on your entertainment dollar in Daytona Beach than the Cubs. Tickets are $7.00 for adults, $6.00 for kids. They have promotions such as "Cubby's Crew", where kids 14 and under can pay $5.00 a season to join the club, and with it they get free tickets to all Friday games. Plus, the Cubs give kids a free ticket for every "A" on their report cards. On Tuesday's, they have a club for people 55 and older where they pay about $15.00 a year and they get tickets to Tuesday and select other games for free plus a free drink at the game. You can also save money by buying tickets in bulk.
I'm guessing it is the economy, but they don't seem to have as many extras as they once did. A few years ago it seemed like they were always handing out free stuff, sponsored by local businesses. That doesn't seem to go on much anymore. But they do still have some things going on during the games like contests and raffles. Overall, I would highly recommend that if you are planning to visit Florida in the baseball season that you check out Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Your family will have a good time.
Member Review by sportsroadtrips on Jun 30, 2012
Fantastic in all respects. Cheap and good food, friendly staff, history, great fans, and picturesque. Best ballpark in the FSL and the only true minor league stadium in the entire league. A must-see!
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