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Official Review by Steven Burke, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Dozer Park has been the home of the Peoria Chiefs since opening in 2002 as a replacement for their previous home Meinen Field. The stadium contains many of the amenities seen in modern day ballparks. The Converse Club, for instance, is located on the suite level and is equipped with flat screen televisions featuring live sporting events as well as an in-park video feed of the action taking place on the field. The Converse Club is open to all suite level ticket holders as well as full and half season ticket holders, featuring table service with full dining and bar menus providing a luxurious environment to experience game day.
Dozer Park also features one of the largest high definition video boards in MiLB, measuring 30 feet by 42 feet. In addition to hosting the Chiefs, Dozer Park also serves as the home of the Bradley University baseball team. The name Dozer Park is reference to the Caterpillar company which is headquartered in Peoria and purchased the naming rights in 2013.
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".
Dozer Park has a good variety of the ballpark staple foods. Two of the best choices are the pork chop sandwich and the foot-long corndog. For something outside of the box, try the pulled pork nachos from the Mexican-inspired concession stand. They come with all of the expected nacho toppings with the added delicious bonus of pulled pork. The Chiefs make sure their ballpark is a place to enjoy a ballgame with quality ballpark food and great craft beer.
As is the case in many ballparks in recent years Dozer Park does a good job emphasizing craft beer, the most notable location being the Good Hops stand. Good Hops is located on the concourse behind home plate and serves a wide variety of drafts, bottles, and cans of beer. All draft beers run will run you $7, while bottles and cans sell for $6 or $7.
Dozer Park is still a very nice facility, but is beginning to show its age slightly. Although to be fair, the issues that are visible may be more of a lack of maintenance and upkeep. The façade of the press box has countless amounts of dings and dents from foul balls, it appears no attempt has been made to repair or mask this damage.
The Firehouse Team Store located on the concourse just to the left of home plate contains all the Chiefs merchandise you could ever need. The store is just to the left of the main gate as you enter the park. The Chiefs' HD video board at Dozer Park is one of the largest in Minor League Baseball. The board measures 30'x42' and displays promotions, replays, stats, and pitch speed.
One of the best options for a pregame meal within walking distance of Dozer Park is Sugar Wood Fired Bistro. Located in the warehouse district of Peoria, Sugar Wood Fired Bistro provides a comfortable atmosphere with an open kitchen and delicious food. One of the most unique and delicious pizza choices is the Smokey Pork Chipotle which features braised pork, smoked gouda, peaches, bacon, pineapple, and chipotle barbecue sauce.
The warehouse district of Peoria appears to be an area ripe for gentrification, signs on buildings around Dozer Park indicate that more businesses will be opening in the near future.
Fans at Dozer Park tend to consist of families from the local community. It is not unusual while walking the concourse to see people interacting with acquaintances they just happen to run into at the ballpark. The Chiefs do a great job of being an integral part of the community and a meeting place during the summer months in central Illinois.
Plenty of street parking is available in the warehouse district surrounding Dozer Park and free parking can easily be obtained. There are also plenty of small lots on the streets surrounding the ballpark where parking can be found for $5-$10. Dozer Park is located close to main roads and interstates so arriving and leaving traffic flows well.
The seating bowl at Dozer Park consists of folding plastic seats and are broken into Dugout Box and Field Box sections. Dugout Box seats cost $11 and range between the sections from dugout to dugout. Field Box seats cost $10 and are located past the dugouts down each foul line. Lawn seats are also available for $8.
Dozer Park features party decks at the end of the concourse on both the first and third base side of the field. Additional group spaces are available in right field as well as left field. The entire seating bowl is close to the field providing a great view of the action from any seat in the house.
As with many MiLB teams, the Chiefs offer promotional food specials throughout the week depending on which night you attend a game at Dozer Park. Wednesday home games are known as "Wins-Days" for the Chiefs with hot dogs, sodas, and ice cream sandwiches all priced at $1 and as an added bonus all fans in attendance receive a ticket to a future Monday-Wednesday home game if the Chiefs win. Dozer Park hosts "Thirsty Thursday" as well as "Taco Bell Live Mas Thursdays" during each Thursday home game. "Thirsty Thursday" features 16-ounce domestic draft beers as well as fountain drinks for $2; while "Taco Bell Live Mas Thursdays" provides buy one get one free ticket with the presentation of a Taco Bell receipt showing a purchase in the last 7 calendar days.
Sunday home games feature specials for the rookie and veteran fans with "PNC Kids Sundays" as well as "Senior Sundays" as kids 12 and under and seniors 55 and over receive tickets for just $5 in addition to $1 ice cream sandwiches.
Being located geographically between Chicago and St. Louis it is expected to have a split of Cubs and Cardinals fans and the Chiefs seem to do their best to retain the interest of both fan bases. Since 1985 the Chiefs have changed major league affiliates four times and that includes two stints each with the Cardinals and Cubs. From 1985-1994 and 2005-2012 the Chiefs were affiliated with the Cubs and 1995-2004 and 2013 until now the Cardinals have called Peoria the home of their Midwest League affiliate.
Also worth note is that just inside the front gate of Dozer Park there is a statue of long-time Chiefs owner, Pete Vonachen. The late executive was known as "Peoria's Mr. Baseball" and is credited with much of the organization's success.
While Peoria is situated between Chicago and St. Louis geographically a visit to Dozer Park to see the Chiefs play is a great addition to a trip to either MLB destination city.
Member Review by paul
Since 1983, they've been playing minor league baseball in Peoria, Illinois. After a long history as a baseball town, a team returned in 1983 as an affiliate of the California Angels, known as the Peoria Suns. Today, the team plays as the Peoria Chiefs and is a Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Beginning the 2013 baseball season, the Chiefs are a Class A minor league affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Their home park, O'Brien Field, has been home since 2002.
Located across the street from the headquarters of Caterpillar Inc., O'Brien Field is also home of the Bradley Braves collegiate baseball team. There is a sense of community that one feels in the ballpark, and as you walk through the town of Peoria. O'Brien Field definitely offers a solid baseball experience.
Member Review by PeoriaChiefs94 on Jul 31, 2012
The Peoria Chiefs have been in Peoria since 1983 and have since made baseball a summer tradition in Central Illinois. The Atmophere is great with a great view of downtown Peoria.They celebrate their history with banners and video clips before the game. The concourse is wide and the seats are comfortable and spacious.
The fans are into the game, cheering for good plays and rooting on the team no matter what the score.Parking is $5 but you can park on the street for free. The food is expensive but good and with a good variety. Extra points for having some of the best ushers who are very nice and helpful, and let you sit where you want on nights with light crowds, for being Cubs affiliates, being close to Chicago, and providing programs and scorecards for free.
Member Review by megminard on Oct 05, 2012
It was a Greg Maddux t-shirt giveaway game and many, many fans were lined up well in advance of the gates opening.
It is walking distance (less than 1/2 mile) to the Peoria riverfront which has restaurants, a visitors center, a park and walkway along the river, and a riverboat cruise option on the Spirit of Peoria paddle wheeler.
The palm trees are still there, the souvenir shop offered hat pins, and I was able to find a post card of the stadium (very rare when visiting the minor leagues).
The one downfall was the game was not broadcast on the radio.
It's worth a visit to see Peoria and a game at O'Brien Field
Member Review by Chris Patton on Sep 17, 2014
Dozer Park is the home of the St. Louis Cardinals Class A affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs. The stadium opened in May of 2002. The following March, the Bradley University baseball team became a tenant as well. Originally known as O’Brien Field, Caterpillar purchased naming rights in 2013. The current name refers to Caterpillar’s bulldozers.
Dozer Park has 7,500 chair back seats, along with grass seating down the left and right field lines and behind the left field wall. There are also multiple picnic tables around the concourse.
The Chiefs are in the Western Division of the Midwest League. The team is in its second stint as a Cardinals affiliate. The Chiefs were previously an affiliate of the Cardinals’ main rival, the Chicago Cubs.
Member Review by kschoenbach on Oct 21, 2015
The Peoria Chiefs have a great little stadium in the middle of a very blue-collar town. I have not enjoyed myself more at any minor-league ballpark, I think because of the rabidness of the fans. I think this may stem from the fact that they have been the farm team to a couple of baseball's most storied franchise, the Cubs, and currently the Cardinals. It was great seeing so many fans keeping score, cheering and shouting, for a team that plays in class A.
The area around the ballpark can be a little confusing, with several one-way streets. There is parking available for a small fee; I found a free street parking only a block away from the stadium. However. I was there during the day, and I can't speak to the safety of the area at night.
The food variety is unparalleled at any minor-league ballpark, and many major-league ballparks for that matter. There are separate food lines for every genre and type of food you could be interested in: barbecue, Mexican, traditional ballpark food, craft beer, desserts, etc. I had some outstanding tacos from the Mexican food line, which were extremely flavorful and left me full for the rest of the game. This season, one of the local breweries had a special beer only available at the field, which I tried and found very tasty.
Speaking of beer, craft beer aficionados absolutely must take a trip to Peoria Brewing Company, a recent addition to the Peoria landscape. They have some of the best microbrews I have ever had, and a real cross-section of society.
People living in the Chicago area should realize that Peoria is really not that far away. You can easily make it from the Chicago loop in three hours; I live in the suburbs, and it barely took me two hours. I went to a noon game, and was home in time to have dinner with my wife. You are not likely to find many better minor-league experiences then this one.
619 Southwest Water St
Peoria, IL 61602
100 Conference Center Drive
East Peoria, IL 61111