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Official Review by Steven Burke, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
In 2016 few ballparks in MiLB allow you to travel back in time to the way minor league baseball used to be. Pohlman Field in Beloit, Wisconsin does just that; attending a Snappers game allows you to harken back to the minor league baseball when it was a no frills baseball experience. Perhaps the best way to describe Pohlman Field a modern day version of baseball as it was so famously portrayed in the movie Bull Durham, just a small part of the community that had always been there. In an era when minor league baseball has become increasingly about the 360 degree open concourses, club level seating, and amenities the Beloit Snappers provide an experience that is quaint, nostalgic, and shows the true roots of MiLB.
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".
One of the best features at Pohlman Field continues to be the Firehouse Grill located down the first base line; on a crisp Wisconsin evening while taking in a baseball game and enjoying a beverage the perfect accompaniment is grilled meat. As is expected in Wisconsin a fantastic wide variety of sausages is always available, featuring a Wisconsin institution with Klement Sausages you can't go wrong with the Polish sausage, Italian sausage, or bratwurst. The Firehouse Grill also features grilled hot dogs, burgers, and chicken. While the Snappers develop different feature items every season one staple item that sticks around year after year is the Snappy Burger which is a grilled burger topped with a Klement's brat that has been split down the middle.
The Snappers offer promotional specials based upon the day of the week you attend a game at Pohlman Field. The Snappers begin the week with great value for all "Monster Deal Monday" home games featuring two general admission tickets, two hot dogs, two popcorns, two fountain drinks, and two adjustable hats all inclusive for just $24; paired with 12 ounce Miller draft products for just $1.50 and Pohlman Field becomes a great place to kick off the week. "Two Dollar Tuesday" at Pohlman Field is a great value night where general admission tickets, hot dogs, brats, pizza slices, fountain drinks, and 12 ounce Miller draft products are all $2. Wednesday home games for the Snappers focus on one of the fastest growing trends at ballparks all around baseball as "Craft Brew Night" offering special craft beer selections that vary from week to week. As is the case in most ballparks Pohlman Field features a "Thirsty Thursday" featuring 32 ounce Miller draft products for $7. Sunday home games feature a "Leinie's bottle" promotion where all 12 ounce Leinenkugel bottles are just $2.
The Snappers offer three defined seating options with box seats, reserved seats, and general admission seats. The box seats are located in the main seating bowl spanning the area between the dugouts; the box seats consist of molded plastic bucket seats and make up the lower rows of the seating bowl. The reserved seats make up the upper rows of the seating bowl and consist of traditional metal bleachers; both the box and reserved seats are located behind protective netting making them ideal for fans of all ages concerned with foul balls coming into the stand. General admission seating is located down both the first base and third base lines and consists of regular metal bleacher seats. The general admission sections are not covered or protected by netting so these are the seats to choose if you are adverse to watching the game through a net or interested in possibly shagging a foul ball.
Polhman Field also has various decks that offer unique views of the action on the field with the bullpen deck and fan zone located down the left field line and the Hog Heaven deck located down the right field line. Interestingly enough perhaps one of the best seats in the house is not a seat at all; located between the general admission bleachers and the first base side dugout is a standing room section that offers a wonderful view of the action on the field. The area provides a drink rail to sit your beverage and to lean upon with a clear and unobstructed view of the field, providing a picturesque view on a crisp Wisconsin summer evening.
As you approach the ballpark you will pass a retail area with many chain restaurants to choose from. Fast food, fast casual, and sit down options provide many options.
The immediate area surrounding the ballpark is residential, the ballpark is also surrounded by a park with playground, skateboard obstacles, and a covered ice hockey rink.
When in Wisconsin it is important to enjoy the things the state is known for such as cheese and beer; when visiting Beloit one of the best places to accomplish this fete is Lucy's #7 Burger Bar. Located at 430 E Grand Ave near the banks of the Rock River Lucy's #7 Burger Bar is a great place to experience Wisconsin before or after a Snappers game. The cheese curds, lightly breaded and fried, are a quintessential Wisconsin appetizer; if you prefer your cheese curds fresh then the Lulu fries will not disappoint as you consume a Wisconsin interpretation of a Canadian favorite poutine. While you can get a burger with virtually any ingredients imaginable one of the more unique versions worth noting is the Sweet & Sassy Lucy; the unique combination of flavors includes a burger stuffed with curry, ginger infused cheese, and topped with sweet chili slaw. As for Wisconsin beer, Lucy's only serves beer from Wisconsin. New Glarus is a favorite brewery of craft beer enthusiasts around the country however it is only sold within the borders of Wisconsin so be sure to give them a try.
Beloit is a small town and the crowds for Snappers games are also small, is this related to apathy for the franchise, the outdated ballpark, or economic issues in the area? All are possibilities however it is clear that the low attendance continues to plague the franchise.
Parking is free in the lot, and also along Skyline Drive. Free parking is always a good move, especially if you are having trouble drawing fans. Moving around the park is easy enough. There is only one bathroom for each gender, and they are small.
It's just a few miles to I-90/I39, which will take back towards Chicago, or north to Madison, Wisconsin. The retail area mentioned previously is located near the interstate.
General admission tickets start at $8, and front row box seats go for $10. For that price differential, you would assume that you should go with the top notch seats. The only problem is that the box seats are just a row of seats along the backstop, completely isolated. Unless there is a large crowd, the ticket to go for is the general admission, and then sit where you like.
If you have a big appetite, then you may want to go for the Miller Lite party deck and their all-you-can-eat deal ($35).
Parking is free, and food is fairly priced, so overall, the experience comes in at a reasonable cost.
During the great recession in 2009, the Beloit Snappers were featured on the ESPN show Outside the Lines. The feature focused on minor league baseball teams operating in cities with high unemployment rates, which at the time in Beloit was 17.4%. The show spotlighted the Snappers becoming an integral part of the community during a difficult time by gearing promotions and specials towards providing entertainment to the community and providing an outlet for residents of all ages to escape the pressures and worries of life. Pohlman Field became a rallying spot for the entire town providing enjoyment and affordable entertainment during a time where both were hard to come by.
While a few of these old school ballparks remain you should make sure to experience them. Pohlman Field likely won't be active in affiliated baseball for much longer so a trip back in time is a must for any ballpark enthusiast.
Member Review by paul
Just north of the Illinois-Wisconsin border is the town on Beloit, located along the Rock River. The Minnesota Twins' Class A minor league affiliate, the Beloit Snappers, play at Pohlman Field. The team is named for the large turtles found in the river. Beginning the 2013 baseball season, the Beloit Snappers are a Class A minor league affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.
There is nothing about Pohlman Field that would even hint at "must-see" or leave you with a once-in-a-lifetime feeling, but there is something very attractive about the sparseness that you find when you arrive at a Beloit Snappers game. I may not be able to adequately explain it, because the overall FANFARE score would suggest that this is a bad place to go for a game, but I left the stadium feeling happy, and there's something to be said for that.
Member Review by megminard on Oct 03, 2012
I did end up sitting in those blue 'bucket' seats behind the net much to my disappointment. I don't know that the bleachers would have been any better.
I did like: the variety of food options, it was a $2 Leinenkugel afternoon, there was a female PA - which is a nice change, and free parking.
There was one elderly lady fan with a bell and she rang it the ENTIRE game - not just for runs. She needs to be a hockey fan. I left the game with a slight headache.
At of the end of the 2012 season, the Snappers announced they will be affiliated with the Oakland Athletics.
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