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Official Review by Jason Karp, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Since the Great Depression, Kindrick Legion Field has been the home of baseball in Montana's capital city, and since 1978, the little ballpark has had a Pioneer League Club as the primary tenant (except for a few seasons in the early 2000s when Helena had no team). The park is also home to Helena's American Legion teams where high school aged kids participate in Americas pastime. With a population of 30,000, Helena is the smallest of the eight cities in the Pioneer League-a short season rookie advanced league. Crowds may be a little bit smaller, and the stadium lacks a little in the eye catching department, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more pleasant location to watch minor league baseball. If the game isn't going so well, there's the scenic background of Mount Helena beyond the outfield fence and Montanas big blue sky above. For most of Helena's Pioneer League history, the team has been affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers and taken the name of the parent club.
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Concessions are served out of a block building behind the grandstand called Wally's Snack Shack. All the standard items are on offer, but not much else. Ice cream in various forms was especially popular. There was another concession stands behind the seating along the third baseline to serve an area reserved for large parties. There was also a stand that had a barbeque grill going. The prices are quite reasonable with a basic hot dog being $3.00, small soda $4.00, nachos $5.50, chicken and fries $5.25, and french fries $2.00. Beer is sold behind the grandstand with domestic and micros available on tap and in cans. A domestic draft like Bud or Bud Light is $5.50. Local micros are also available for about a dollar more from Helena's Lewis and Clark Brewery and other breweries in Montana, including the fabulous Cold Smoke Scotch Ale from the Kettlehouse Brewery in Missoula.
Watching minor league baseball while enjoying a cold beer and a hotdog on a beautiful afternoon in Montana-there's really nothing more needed. It's perfect. But the Brewers try to add to the atmosphere with piped in 80's tunes and organ music during dead ball situations. I'm just not sure any of that is really necessary. The ancient, but well maintained, wooden grandstand complete with pillars and a roof is a throwback to simpler times. They don't make ballparks like this anymore, probably for good reason. But as long as it is taken care of, and folks with mobility limitations are adequately accommodated, I see no great need for modernization. All the reserved sections are individual stadium folding seats under the roof. Some of the views were obstructed by the pillars, but that just added to the ambiance of the place. No one seemed to mind me moving around a bit even though my ticket was for a specific seat, as the stadium was far from full. Less expensive general admission seating is available along both baselines with sections of chair back seating and metal bleachers. These sections were not under a roof so bring your sunscreen if you choose to sit there.
Kindrick Legion Field is located near, but not in, downtown Helena within the boundaries of Memorial Park. There's a pool and water slide right next to the stadium along with a playground and other park features. The neighborhood immediately adjacent to the grandstand is made up of heavy construction and building contractor establishments-so not the most scenic part of the City. But a new bike path runs right next to the stadium that leads in the direction of the Lewis and Clark Brewery-just a couple of blocks away, which is a plus. Downtown Helena, a block away and across the wide and busy Lyndale Avenue is a gem worth exploring. The densely packed core area has hotels, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, a brewery, a bakery, and lots of little stores and shops. Helena has a colorful history. The first clue is that the major street that leads into downtown is called Last Chance Gulch. This relates back to the gold rush days in the late 1800's that led to Helena's settlement and eventual establishment as Montana's capital city. A tour of the capital complex is well worth some time, a hike or mountain bike ride up Mount Helena and the surrounding hills is a fun thing to do, or just little out of town, a boat ride tour of the Gates of Mountains on the Missouri River is a lot of fun for the whole family.
The friendliness of the fans and staff more than makes up for the lack of numbers. No one is too invested in the game, but they are paying close enough attention to razz the umpire on a close call, or cheer a big hit or stellar defensive play by their beloved Brewers. Kids probably make up half the attendance, but more of them appear to be cooling off next door at the water park. Who could blame them on a warm August afternoon.
The parking lot is located off North Last Chance Gulch. The stadium is not easy to spot. Look for the outfield flood lights, or the next door the water slide. Parking was free and in abundance adjacent to the stadium. Nearby Carroll College, downtown, and Memorial Park are all connected by a multi-use path system with tunnels under North Last Chance Gulch and Lyndale Avenue. If you are staying downtown, it's an easy walk or bike to the stadium. The path also leads to quiet streets connecting to the Lewis and Clark Brewery a few blocks away. Kudos to some good planning there. It was a little confusing entering the stadium area, finding a place to lock up my bike, and locating the ticket booth, but there were polite young staff members willing to show the way. Once inside, some folks with mobility limitations struggled to get up the old wooden stairs, but staff was alert to the situation and right on hand to assist anyone who needed it all the way to their seats. Restrooms are located in a separate block building behind the grandstand. They were accessible and functional with no lines.
The Sunday afternoon tickets are a steal at $2 for a bleacher seat in the sun. I splurged and got a reserved seat under the cover of the grandstand for $4. Box seats right behind home plate were only slightly more expensive. Evening games are a few dollars more, but still an absolute bargain. All in all, a Brewers game might be the best entertainment value in all of Helena. Concessions are quite affordable for a minor league baseball game, and there was some good beer available.
Kindrick Legion Field gets a few extra bonus points: One bonus point for the roof over the main grandstand with all chair back seats. Once seated I was very comfortable despite the sunny 80 degree temperatures. One bonus point for Mount Helena. I imagine a minor league prospect from a major metropolitan area, or from a foreign land like the Dominican Republic, might find going to Helena to be as alien as the moon, but developing their game against such a scenic backdrop can only be good for them. One bonus point for the beer girl, who let everybody in the sleepy crowd know in no uncertain terms and at great volume that she had ice cold beer for sale.
Kindrick Legion Field is a charming little ballpark, well worth making the effort to take in a game there.
Member Review by BelgradeBobcat on Jun 24, 2012
Since the Great Depression, Kindrick Legion Field has been the home of baseball in Montana's capital city, and since 1978, the little ballpark has had a Pioneer League Club as the primary tenant (except for a few seasons in the early 2000’s when Helena had no team). The park is also home to Helena's American Legion teams where high school aged kids participate in America’s pastime.
With a population of 30,000, Helena is the smallest of the eight cities in the Pioneer League-a short season rookie advanced league. Crowds may be a little bit smaller, and the stadium lacks a little in the eye catching department, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more pleasant location to watch minor league baseball. If the game isn't going so well, there's the scenic background of Mount Helena beyond the outfield fence and Montana’s big blue sky above.
For most of Helena's Pioneer League history, the team has been affiliated with the Milwaukee Brewers and taken the name of the parent club.
1517 Dodge Ave
Helena, MT 59601
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