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Official Review by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Pioneer Park is a beautiful, modern stadium – it is too bad more fans don't come out to enjoy games here. Built in 2004, the stadium is actually located on the campus of Tusculum College in Tusculum, Tennessee (just outside of Greeneville). However, Tusculum is too small to be recognized by the USPS, so the park has a Greeneville address.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Pioneer Park offers pretty standard fare out of two main concession stands -- one on each side of the concourse -- including burgers, hot dogs, nachos, barbecue, chicken sandwiches, pizza, and corn dogs, as well as popcorn, peanuts, pretzels, candy, chips, and of course, Cracker Jack. The larger items range from $4-$6, while the smaller items go for between $2 and $3.50. Besides the two main stands, there is one satellite stand that offers smoothies & sno cones, plus a tiki bar with adult beverages.
Soda is offered in both bottles and from the fountain for around $3-$4. Bottles are 20 ounces, including bottled water, and fountain drinks are either 20 or 32 ounces. The Tiki Hut is located on the end of the first base side, and offers Shock Top, Blue Point, Yuengling, Miller Lite, Landshark, Bud Light, and Budweiser Ritas (in several flavors). There is a picnic area near the Tiki Hut where fans can sit and enjoy their food and drinks.
Pioneer Park is a great stadium, with a wide concourse, chairback seats with cup holders in all areas, a very friendly staff, and an interactive mascot.
The park looks great both inside and out - the front entrance features beautiful brickwork, a raised garden, and even a large concrete baseball to set the stage for the event (about the size of those red globes outside of some Target stores). On the inside, there is an actual team store to buy gear (not just a makeshift stand), a glass-fronted press box, and plastic bucket-style seats with cup holders and metal armrests, most of which are covered. The sections on each end (which are the slightly cheaper seats) are not covered Some of the first few rows are not covered as the overhang doesn't extend all the way to the field, so be sure to sit a few rows back.
The Astros' new mascot, Gizmo, is hard to miss, as he is garbed in bright orange, and looks rather like one of the Muppets. But he spends his time wandering the stands and participating in the promotions, such as the baseball toss, where real baseballs are tossed out to fans. This is a nice touch, since most stadiums give away t-shirts instead, which are invariably the wrong size. Pioneer Park does have a couple of interactive games for the kids, such as wiffle ball and something akin to Wheel of Fortune, but they cost a little money to play. On the flip side, the kids can win legitimate prizes.
See a video showing the front entrance here:
There isn't much right next to the park, except for some campus buildings and a few other athletic facilities, but only a mile or two away on the Andrew Johnson Highway, there is a plethora of restaurants, hotels, and shopping.
Most of the restaurants are fast food, but there are a couple of nice spots to hang out before or after the game, including Applebee's and Hyperion Grill. Hyperion is a fab little place with a good drink selection, including Tennessee moonshine, typical bar and grill type fare, plus cheap breakfast meals served all day, and indoor, outdoor, and semi-outdoor (partially enclosed patio) seating. There are only a couple TVs, but you can also play darts or cornhole.
The Andrew Johnson National Historic Site is the obvious attraction to visit while you are in the area, but if you are looking for something more outdoorsy, Margarette Falls offers a great hike that is not too strenuous, and the waterfalls are definitely worth seeing.
There are plenty of lodging options not far from the park (most of which are on the aforementioned Andrew Johnson Highway) to fit your preferences and budget, including national chains such as Hampton Inn, Econo Lodge, and Days Inn, as well as local selections such as the Andrew Johnson Inn and the Greene Villa Motel.
Except for the 4th of July, Pioneer Park is rarely full, but does offer some pretty good crowd noise, despite the low attendance.
The stadium only seats about 2,500 (not including the berm), which is on the small side for minor league parks - the berm is the grass seating on the end of the third base side, which is only sold for the 4th of July. Attendance is better on weekends (Thursday thru Saturday) when the Astros average 1,200-1,400, but is a lot worse Sunday thru Wednesday, when they might only see 500-900. The 4th of July is by far the best attendance-wise, where a near or total sell-out (including the berm) can bring the attendance to almost 3,600.
Even on light attendance days, however, the fans can get pretty loud. Greeneville fans are not shy about cheering for their team, even if the Astros aren't at the top of the league standings.
Greeneville (or Tusculum) is a good half-hour from any major freeways, but is easy enough to find, and the stadium is a cinch to get around, given the great layout.
Parking is free right outside the park. Note that the closest rows are reserved for season ticket holders, but even for "regular folk," it is a very short walk. There is only one gate into the stadium, but there are three ticket lines, so you won't have to wait long to buy your passes.
The concourse is located above the field, just behind the last row of seats, and is fairly wide. There are also multiple staircases that descend into the stands, so the stadium is very easy to get around. There are bathrooms and concession stands on each side of the concourse (first base side and third base side), so you shouldn't have any problem finding what you need.
Pioneer Park is well worth seeing, given the great aesthetics and the ease of getting around the park. It might not have the energy of some of the larger parks, but the laid back atmosphere more than makes up for it.
Tickets cost $7-$9, depending on where you sit, which is on the high side for the Appalachian League. However, parking is free, and concession prices are reasonable.
Since the park is rarely full, feel free to buy the $7 tickets and sit wherever you want.
One point for the stadium entrance, including the baseball, garden, and brickwork - rarely do you see such a tastefully done exterior. The baseball may seem tacky to some, but it is certainly appropriate, and is far enough away from the other décor that it does not detract.
A second point for the Andrew Johnson sites - this piece of history provides another great reason (besides baseball) to visit Greeneville to see the Astros.
A third point for the great staff - the folks at Pioneer Park are very friendly, and are willing to go out of their way to make your visit enjoyable. I also give them props for their willingness to make changes to improve the experience, such as bringing in a new mascot.
Even though it is a small stadium that doesn't have the greatest attendance, Pioneer Park is a wonderful place to visit. A trip is well worth your time for just a single game, or if you want to stay the weekend, you will find plenty to do in the area to keep you entertained before or after the games.
Member Review by ChadMinton on Jun 29, 2012
There are several minor league ballparks located in the gorgeous region in East Tennessee, but if you blink then you might overlook Pioneer Park. Pioneer Park has been home to the Greeneville Astros, the Houston Astros' affiliate in the Rookie Appalachian League, since 2004. The team also enjoyed their one and only league championship in 2004.
You’ll get a cozy feeling the instant you walk up to Pioneer Park, but the experience gets somewhat bare after that initial feeling of walking up to the entrance gates.
Member Review by ballparkreviews on Jul 20, 2012
Just comparing Pioneer Park to other Appalachian League parks, it is no doubt the best and most modern. While other teams play in what feel like high school fields, Greeneville plays in a professional park. I especially love the large roof which covers most of the seating bowl. Just a clean, comfortable place to take in a game. For my full review of Pioneer Park, check out my site :
Member Review by johntop on Aug 30, 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed my 2 day visit to Pioneer Park. Both games were well-attended, and I found the crowd to be into the game. The ballpark is very nice, and is a real treat in the Appalachian League (this is the 4th App League ballpark I've been to). Food was ok (nothing special). The staff and the other fans were super friendly.
1759 E Andrew Johnson Hwy
Greeneville, TN 37745
Corner of College and Depot Sts
Shelton Mission Rd
3130 E Andrew Johnson Hwy
Greenville, TN 37745