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Official Review by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Regardless of popular opinion, Kokomo is not a popular tropical destination located in the Caribbean or Florida Keys. It is a small town an hour north of Indianapolis that welcomed summer baseball back to its community in 2015 with the Kokomo Jackrabbits of the Prospect League. The city built the impressive Kokomo Municipal Stadium at a cost of $9 million. The artificial field turf ballpark seats 4,000 comfortable between its fixed and outfield lawn seating.
Unfortunately, construction delays prevented the stadium from being fully completed in time for the start of the Jackrabbits inaugural season, but this has not distracted from the game day experience. The friendly staff, prices, and eye-popping merchandise are quickly making this ballpark an essential place to visit for any stadium journeys during the summer months.
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".
There is one main concourse that is open that features a healthy collection of ballpark food that includes hot dogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers, brats, nachos, pretzels, and French fries. With many of these items you can add nacho cheese or chili. The prices range from $3.50 for a hot dog to $7 for the loaded nachos.
Domestic beer will cost $4.50 for a 14 ounce size, and $6 for a 16 ounce, while craft beers run you about a $1.50 more per cup size.
Down the right field line near the kid zone is the Sweet Tooth stand that serves ice cream cones for $3, root beer floats for $4, and fresh popcorn for $2.50 a bag. These are very fair and adequate prices for ballpark cuisine and should be able to satisfy many in attendance. There is also a barbecue pit that was not yet open during my visit, but looks to be ready some time during the 2015 season down the left field stands.
The atmosphere feels very good for a collegiate wood bat ballpark and in a city that has not had minor league baseball since 1957. The town of Kokomo is a strong baseball town that has their young ones playing from an early age. There are a few construction areas within the concourse, but it does not take away from the coziness or modern comfort of the stadium. The staff is extremely friendly, courteous, and helpful with any questions or concerns. The game day operations are top notch with shirt tosses, in between inning games, dancing carrots on the dugouts, and Jacko the muscular jackrabbit patrolling the stadium.
There are also various theme nights that are popular with other MKE Sports and Entertainment owned franchises that include Throwback to the 50's Night, State Fair Night, Western Night, and Prince and Princess Night.
During my visit it was Beer Garden Night that featured an extra beer garden and staff members dressed in lederhosen. This type of environment is what is expected to be found in most levels of affiliated and independent baseball, and is a welcome pleasure in the collegiate wood bat league.
The merchandise has been a popular staple for the club since their inception and when you wear brown, mustard, and orange inspired by the San Diego Padres jerseys from 1981-1984, you might get a few eye rolls. That is not the case here, as team caps that feature the stylistic K logo, rabbit eyes, or Jacko have been popular items for fans of all ages. The brown dye used for the ballcaps have to be specially made, since many sports franchises (college and professional) shy away from such a color.
The ballpark's lawn seats pay homage to Victory Field's outfield lawn seats in Indianapolis; this could be a great way to entice non baseball fans to enjoy a game sitting in a blanket under clear blue skies. Unlike most stadiums, the whole outfield features grass seating that accommodates 1,000 patrons.
Other highlights include a jungle gym for the children and a collapsable party tent in the left field corner.
What you would find in Kokomo are a variety of chain restaurants and retail outlets on the US-31, which is not too far from the stadium. However, if you are looking for a few interesting sites to see or places to eat, then there are suggestions.
Harvey Hinklemeyers features great pizza and sandwiches and is also great for the kids. Half Moon Restaurant and Brewery might be a great stop for a bite to eat or craft beer after the game. Or, visit the Windmill Grill or Artie's Tenderloin while you are in town. A tenderloin sandwich is a giant breaded piece of pork that is deep fried and big enough for two.
The ballpark is near the historic Kokomo Memorial Gymnasium that at one time was one of the largest high school basketball field houses in the country. The current size is around 5,000 and it still packs a crowd during the high school season.
Many locals recommended Dan's Variety Bakery which opens at 1 AM and features fresh, hot baked donuts. It is a popular destination and only open from 1 AM to 12 PM.
The fans at the ballpark appear to be strong supporters for their local nine. Many in attendance are decked out in Jackrabbit gear, while little ones wait impatiently for the elusive foul ball down the right field line.The crowd, which grows as the night wears on, cheers and jests through the trials and tribulations of the Rabbits on the field. However, do not be surprised if the stadium becomes a hotspot during warmer and dryer evenings throughout the summer.
You will not find directions off the main road to Municipal Stadium - an uncommon feature in many minor and collegiate wood bat leagues. Fortunately, GPS takes you there directly and you are not too far away from US-31. The parking is free around the ballpark on the residential streets that are decked out nicely with flowers and team logos, and there are additional parking lots in the back of the outfield walls.
The highest single ticket price is $14 for the home plate reserved seats, $10 for dugout reserved seats, and $8 for the backyard lawn seats. If you feel a bit adventurous or really hungry, then VIP table tops or home plate club seats might be your ticket; both of these sections include unlimited ballpark food, soda, water, and three beers for $40 a person. The price of tickets, the money saved on parking, and the cost of food should make most want to make a return back to Kokomo for a game in the near future.
One star for the friendly staff that always seems to be in a mood to talk or help you out during the game.
An additional star for the great looking logo, team colors, and retro uniforms that are now a classic look to a new generation of baseball fans.
The final extra star is for what is sure to be one heck of a ballpark for the Prospect League once it is completed by the start of the 2016 season.
Kokomo Municipal Stadium has already raised the bar for new and modern collegiate wood bat league stadiums. Instead of taking an existing structure and retrofitting it for 21st century comforts, this palace was built from the ground up. Even though it was not fully finished in time for the inaugural season, the stadium has all of the ballpark flare and pizzazz that one would expect for a night out with friends and family.
Member Review by MickiC on Jul 26, 2015
My cousin got us Club tickets for free beer and snacks when we got to the game. When we arrived we discovered that we could not drink because our ID's were not turned the correct way. It was firmly stated that it was the stadium's policy to not serve drinks to ID's not turned. This was very unfortunate to learn when we got to the game and not when we were buying the tickets, which ended up being a HUGE WASTE OF MONEY. This definitely RUINED OUR EXPERIENCE for the rest of the game.
IN ADDITION, we purchased front row seats, which were occupied when we got there. When we asked the couple and their kids to move they did not. Therefore we asked an employee standing in the bleacher to assist us, her answer was "Oh they're Season Ticket holders" which I guess means they sit where they want, BUT IT WAS NO EXCUSE TO LEAVE THEM SITTING IN OUR SEATS that we specifically paid for. THE EMPLOYEE NEVER HELPED US MOVE THE FAMILY, we got the family to move ourselves.
All in All, I would have to say I really DID NOT ENJOY my experience at Cheney Stadium, and I most likely WILL NEVER GO BACK, NOR WOULD I RECOMMEND ANYONE ELSE TO GO HERE.
1554 S Dixon Rd
Kokomo, IN 46902
2335 W Sycamore St
Kokomo, IN 46901
922 S Main St
Kokomo, IN 46901
1800 S Union S
Kokomo, IN 46902
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