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Official Review by Scott Bultman, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Midway Stadium in St. Paul has a small town charm in an urban setting. Built in 1982, this stadium looks and feels like it was built in the early 1900’s. It has the type of quirkiness that is reminiscent of the older MLB stadiums not in use anymore. The current incarnation of the St. Paul Saints began play in the Northern League in 1993. In 2006, they moved to the American Association playing against teams from the Midwest such as Sioux City, Gary, and Sioux Falls. Fans coming to Midway likely won’t recognize many of the names of the players on the field but they will come away with a positive vibe from the stadium experience.
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The food and beverage at Midway are modestly priced compared to their major league counterparts. Despite 2014 being the last season of play for the Saints at Midway Stadium, they have tweaked their menu to add some new items rather than mail it in and keep the menu the same. There are quite a few concession areas and lines move quickly. Nearly all of the food items are under $7 and most are under $5. Standard fare includes hot dogs, brats, burgers, and BBQ sandwiches. The burger can be served on a regular bun or a pretzel bun. Fries can be added to any meat order for two dollars more. Snacks such as ice cream, cheese curds, candy, and nachos are fairly priced.
New to Midway Stadium in 2014 is a sausage stand down the third base line. The brats have funny names such as Justin Bieboar, Brat Favre, and Kim Lardashian. These brats use premium ingredients and a brat bun or pretzel bun. Priced at $6.75, these are pricier than most items in the park, but are worth it.
Another new item that is unique to Midway is a beer shake. There are three different kinds of shakes including chocolate, strawberry, and coffee. Each flavor of ice cream is paired with a local beer. The coffee shake includes Surly Coffee Stout and vanilla ice cream and it is delicious. Half a glass of beer is mixed with a few scoops of ice cream and mixed in front of you.
The amount of beverages here is different, yet astounding. Soda options are RC Cola, Sunkist, and 7-Up. It is rare to see these kinds of sodas offered at stadiums rather than the standard Coke or Pepsi brands. Draft beers have a wide range of variety from basics such as Bud Light to craft brews such as Leinekugel's Summer Shandy and Summit IPA. Be prepared to have your wallet lightened if wanting a beer. Large drafts cost $8 and medium drafts are $5.75. If arriving early however, it is considered picnic hours and beers are available for $1-$3 dollars before the game.
For an ultimate craft brew experience, the Beer Dabbler Bullpen is a must see. Located behind the left field foul pole, a small trailer with twenty-one taps of local and national craft beers.
Pints are available for $5.50. Flights of three small tastings can be had for $6, and a flight of six tastings is $11. This area is popular before the game and there is a covered picnic table area for fans to enjoy their food and beverages.
The atmosphere at Midway is lighthearted to say the least. The announcers talk and crack jokes saying things such as "ball three, come on pitcher you have one more in you." Between innings, a pig named Steven Colboar delivers a game ball to the umpire and receives a treat. The pig has different costumes on or stuffed animals riding it such as Kermit the Frog. Nearly every game has some sort of theme night. Popular themes include Star Wars, Ghostbusters, and musical themes.
The game seems secondary to the amount of entertainment in the stadium. Games between innings include a pizza toss, race to White Castle, human ice cream sundaes, and a human tortilla rolling contest. There are many different contests tied to the performance on the field. The K-man of the game is a player chosen at random on the opposing team. If that guy strikes out, the crowd wins a fast food coupon. Runs scored, hits, etc. could earn the crowd a prize.
The in game entertainment is great as well with mascots and characters working the crowd. Kristoffer Olsen is a self-proclaimed nerd who cracks jokes with fans, calls them nerds, and lightens the mood. Gert the Flirt, Sergio Masubuchi, and the team's mascot Mudonna walk the seating areas to entertain. The best seats in the house are aisle seats or the first couple of rows behind the walkway. The entertainers are constantly working the crowd and you are sure to be noticed in these seats.
The most unique quirk about Midway is the amount of trains that go by the stadium. Every time a train goes by, the announcers say "train!" Fans cheer as the train goes by and if they are lucky, they will hear a horn honk. A true rarity that will make everyone cheer is a double train (two trains going by at once). The announcers joke that crazy things happen during a double train and sure enough, the opposing team made an error during this occurrence when I attended.
Seating at Midway is close to the field and spacious. There are a few rows next to the field and a walking path behind them. The rest of the seating area is bleacher seating. Great seats can be had behind home plate on game days. While sellouts are rare, the Saints nearly fill the stadium each night. The scoreboard is small and hard to read from most vantage points. Another downside is how dark the field is at night as the lighting isn't the greatest.
One downer about Midway Stadium is the lack of any restaurants or bars, directly nearby. Midway Stadium is located between train tracks and a major train depot south of the stadium. Due to this, tailgating is allowed in the team's parking lots. Fans take full advantage by bringing cars, vans, or even RV loads of people to enjoy a good pregame cook out. Despite being in the middle of a rail yard and somewhat deserted, the area is safe as everyone there is going to the game just like you.
If wanting to have a pregame meal, the closest restaurants are about a five minute drive from the stadium on University Drive or Snelling. Head west towards the University of Minnesota's campus for great sports bars and restaurants. Head to Snelling for a variety of ethnic restaurants as well as many fast food choices.
As for lodging, there are a few choices nearby including the Best Western Bandana Ave, the Midway Motel, and Days Inn St. Paul.
The crowd is the type that you would expect from a minor league game. Families looking for a cheap night out, friends enjoying the game, and date nights will all find what they are looking for. The fans are into the action and cheer at the right times, but the intensity isn't there. This is to be expected due to the level of play at Midway. Fans here cheer the contests and contestants as well as laugh at the jokes and wisecracks being told on the PA system. You're here to enjoy the atmosphere, and the baseball game is secondary entertainment in many ways.
Midway Stadium is accessible via car or bus. Located a couple miles off of Interstate 94, the ballpark area is easy to drive in and out of. Parking is plentiful, but the team's lots are a little expensive for independent baseball at $7. If you are there early enough, parking on Energy Park Drive is free, but it fills up fast. Getting there early to enjoy a pregame meal at the park and free parking is ideal. There are many bus stops near the park for fans who prefer mass transit. Unfortunately, the new green line light rail train does not stop near the stadium. However, one could take the train to nearby Snelling Avenue and take the bus the rest of the way to the stadium.
What better bang for the buck than sports combined with entertainment? Saints tickets are fairly priced and worth it no matter how much or how little is spent. Tickets range from $5-$22. The ability to choose your own seats on the Saints website is a huge plus. There does not seem to be any major ticket promotions or discounts. On weekends or holidays, the Saints charge a premium of two or three dollars per ticket. On days with major promotions, the cost of the giveaway or chance to be in a contest pay for your ticket alone. Fans almost always win a coupon of some sort from the many in game contests that get everyone involved. Also, the food options here are very affordable and having a meal won't break the bank.
Bonus points are earned for some of the wackiest promotions you will see in all of sports. Nothing is safe or out of bounds with the Saints, in a family friendly way of course. The beer dabbler bullpen is a rarity at baseball games and they have an amazing variety of beer for a ballpark. The different characters spending time with people in the crowd throughout the game makes for a great diversion. There is plenty for kids and families to do before and during the game.
Midway Stadium offers many diversions from the actual game. If a baseball fan is there just for the game and nothing else, Midway Stadium is not for you. However, if you are there for entertainment purposes and a good meal, then you are in the right place. The players play hard, but the game is secondary to the experience. The Saints are a family friendly organization and provide a fun experience for everyone involved. Seeing the Saints at Midway is a must in 2014 before they move to their new downtown digs next year. Here's hoping the new stadium provides the same fun experience in 2015.
Member Review by bcbenzel
It used to be that, if you wanted to watch baseball outdoors in Minnesota you would go to Midway Stadium and watch the St. Paul Saints. That was, of course, before the Twins got their shiny new toy in downtown Minneapolis. Despite this fact, the team is still an institution in the Twin Cities and it's one with its fair share of character and charm.
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1010 Bandana Blvd W
St Paul, MN 55108
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St Paul, MN 55104
1964 University Ave W
St Paul, MN 55104