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Official Review by Franklin Crittenden, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Huntsville, also known as the Rocket City, is located in northern Alabama and is home to NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center as well as the Redstone Arsenal Military complex.
It is also the home of Joe W Davis Stadium and the Milwaukee Brewers' double A affiliate Huntsville Stars. Previous to that the Stars were operated by the Oakland Athletics from 1985 to 1999. Many of Major League Baseball's stars once graced the field at Joe W Davis Stadium. Those names include Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Tim Belcher, Jason Giambi, and many others.
Joe Davis Stadium, nicknamed "The Joe", was named for the popular former mayor of Huntsville, who was instrumental in bringing minor league baseball to the city. The Joe has seating for 10,200 fans as well as 14 air conditioned Sky Boxes.
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".
Joe W Davis Stadium has the normal fare found at minor league fields all across the country, nothing more, and nothing less.
At the concession stand a hot dog only costs $3, a cold beer goes for $4.50 for bottled and $5 for a large glass of draft. For the kids there are smoothies, and cotton candy for $3. Also on the menu are: Nachos, Peanuts, Cracker Jacks and other treats all priced under $4.00. The prices are great, but the selection is only average.
There are also side vendors where you could purchase Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream, Domino's Pizza, Funnel Cakes, and Hot Pretzels as well as cold Lemonade if you so desired. There are no outside food and beverages allowed inside Joe Davis Stadium so what you see is what you get.
Keeping in mind that I visited Joe W Davis Stadium in the middle of the week, and that it was close to 100 degrees earlier in the day, that might account for the crowd of less than 500 fans. The stadium staff was very friendly and even though the crowd was thin everyone seemed to be enjoying the evening. The stadium was clean and seemed very kid-friendly as there were several groups
of youngsters having a good time and enjoying "Homer" the Stars mascot.
Although the crowd was disappointing I feel certain that a weekend game would have been a completely different story. The Stars put on a fireworks show every Friday night and like most minor league organizations have some sort of promotion or giveaway taking place almost every night.
There was a large covered picnic area for large or small parties located down the right side beyond the bleachers which was a nice touch.
To say that Joe W Davis Stadium is in a neighborhood would be a stretch, but the stadium is in a nice part of town and there are a few places to eat and enjoy within walking distance.
One interesting place that is located a few hundred yards beyond the outfield fence is called Finnegan's Pub. Finnegan's is just what you would expect, an Irish pub where you can have a pint and discuss the game. There is also live music at Finnegan's from time to time.
In addition to Finnegan's there is a Firehouse Subs, an Applebee's and a Cracker Barrel all within a few blocks of the stadium.
The city of Huntsville has every kind of eatery you can imagine, but some of the local flavors would be found at places like Dreamland Ribs and Gibson's BBQ, also located nearby.
Joe Davis stadium is also adjacent to two other places the kids might enjoy, Southern Adventures and Huntsville's Municipal Ice Complex. Southern Adventures is a fun park for kids that has games, miniature golf and even batting cages and is located across from the stadium. The Municipal Ice Complex is a public ice rink and is located just south of Joe W Davis Stadium.
It would be unfair of me to judge the fans based on the small group that was there on one of the hottest days in July, but the fans that did show up seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Getting to Joe W Davis Stadium was a breeze. Huntsville's road system is top-notch and we were in the parking lot in less than 15 minutes after entering the city limits.
Parking was also easy and inexpensive at $4 per car. The stadium is surrounded with a large parking lot and the most someone might have to walk would be 200 yards.
Spotting the stadium was easy because of the lights, but trying to figure out where to turn off of the Parkway was a little confusing because of the lack of signs.
You can attend a Huntsville Stars game and take a family of four and spend less than $75.00, and that includes parking, tickets, snacks and drinks. How can you beat that for a night out with your family?
Joe W Davis Stadium has everything you could want as far as a small town minor league baseball game experience. There are picnic tables and plenty of entertainment for the kids to keep them happy, and a family friendly atmosphere as well as a safe environment in and around the stadium.
I was impressed with the city of Huntsville, and visiting Joe W Davis Stadium was a safe, easy and wholesome experience. My trip to "The Joe" did leave me wondering why there were so few fans in attendance in a city the size of Huntsville.
I certainly would take advantage of all this place had to offer if the Stars were in my hometown. Even with the small crowd and lopsided game I still really enjoyed my trip to Joe W Davis Stadium and would certainly consider returning.
Member Review by oldskoolberk on Feb 13, 2014
The oldest ballpark in the Southern League was named after the mayor who brought Minor League to Huntsville. However, with all the new parks built and being "modern" this is a ghostly stadium which is more of a multi-purpose stadium than a ballpark. What you have is a massive oversized ballpark where the Stars will never sell out and from all looks of it, will possibly be moving to Biloxi in 2015. That being said, it isn't a TERRIBLE place to watch a game and the experience wasn't too bad.
FOOD/BEVERAGE: Standard fare with a few extras, including the pretzel bun burgers and brats. I had the burger and it was very tasty, albeit slightly on the expensive side at $6. Well worth it however. Also they have some very tasty tater tots.
ATMOSPHERE: 10,000 seat park that only sees at the the most 1/10th of the capacity (and sometimes well less), you do have that empty feeling of the park as it might have been neater to see the Stars anywhere from 85-94 where they probably drew a few more fans than 1,000.
NEIGHBORHOOD: You are in an industrial area filled mostly with large aluminum buildings (though to be fair, it is sports oriented), but nothing around to walk before or after the game and munch on. The good news is you can drive to a nearby mall with numerous restaurant options.
FANS: The ones who were there were into the game and had on baseball shirts, whether it was player shirts of Brewer players, or other MLB stars. They were friendly as well.
ACCESS: Depends on where you were coming from. If you are coming from Tennessee or Alabama, you have a nice straight shot on the Interstate to get there. If you are coming over from Georgia, good luck as "back roads" is what makes a two-and-a-half hour drive to a three-and-a-half hour drive.
ROI: $8 to sit anywhere in the place. Free parking, low cost of foods, and souvenir prices normal, you can't go wrong with what you are getting, even though you are sitting in an out-of-date, oversized stadium.
EXTRAS: The employees are friendly and made you feel welcomed, and you get a nice, scenic view of the hills of North Alabama while having a "NASA" themed place. One of the unique things (at least from me) was the bit of "how to wash your hands in the bathroom" bit. But the scoreboard was not operating nor hadn't been in a while and the rest of the place was out of date with missing ads on the walls and one ad looked "ripped out."
3319 Memorial Parkway
Huntsville, AL 35801
3185 Leeman Ferry Rd
Huntsville, AL 35801
3141 University Dr. N.W.
Huntsville, AL 35816