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Official Review by Chris Patton, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Rent One Park in Marion, Illinois is home to the Southern Illinois Miners of the independent Frontier League. The stadium opened on May 29, 2007 as the Miners defeated the Evansville Otters with over 6,300 fans in attendance. In their inaugural season, the Miners set Frontier League attendance records and continue to draw good crowds to the ballpark near the intersection of I-57 and Illinois Route 13.
Rent One Park has 3,200 chair seats (with cup holders) and lawn seating for over 2,000. Additional seating is available in two picnic gardens. The Budweiser Bullpen Bar-n-Grille has picnic table seating for 300, while the Rent One Picnic Garden beyond the outfield walls seats another 500 fans. The park also has 14 suites and a banquet facility.
The Miners play in the Frontier League’s East Division. Southern Illinois won the Frontier League championship in 2012. Washington National Tanner Roark played in Marion in 2008, five years before making his big league debut.
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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".
There are four concession stands in Rent One Park. The stands offer all the ballpark staples, but they take it to the next level by offering them several different ways. For example, a Nathan's hot dog is $3.50, but for $0.50 more, you can get a chili cheese dog, salsa dog, or cheese dog. French fries are $3, while garlic or chili cheese fries are $3.50. The garlic fries aren't the same quality of those at a San Francisco Giants game, but are enjoyable. The variety continues with five different versions of nachos, ranging in price from $3.25 to $6.
At the main concession stands, a regular soda is $2.75, while a large is $4. Bottles of Pepsi products sell for $3.25. Draft beers are $3.75 and bottled beers are $4.75.
The Budweiser Bullpen Bar-n-Grille down the right field line also offers a wide variety of food and drink. In this location, you can dine on several different burgers or chicken sandwiches, chicken wings, and sausages. Draft beers listed are Bud, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, and 312. For a $0.75 savings, Natural Light drafts are also available.
At freestanding carts along the concourse, three different types of cheesesteaks and an Italian sausage with peppers are grilled up and sold for $6. Leinenkugel's and Redd's drafts are listed, as well.
For dessert, one item that is recommended is the funnel cake fries. The $4 treat might seem more at home at the county fair than a ballpark, but definitely is worth trying.
Rent One Park is still a new facility at just seven years old and remains in great shape. As we walked into the stadium, the team staff handed us a free replica jersey and game program. The program is a small magazine on newspaper, but is very informative.
There had been some rain in the area before the game, but ushers walked with fans to their seats and wiped them down with a towel before anybody sat down.
The concourse is wide open and covered in most areas, in case of rain. At the end of the concourse down the left field line is a kids play area with six inflatables. This is right near the lawn seating, so parents can keep one eye on the game and one eye on their kids playing in a bounce house.
The team's name is a tribute to the history of coal mining in southern Illinois. The concourse walls feature black and white photos of local coal miners from years passed. Along with the miner mascot, Big John, is a canary mascot that celebrates runs by dancing on the dugout with one of the team's Diamond Girls, who helped out with promotional contests.
Rent One Park's playing surface is Sportexe Turf. While this takes away from the charm for baseball, it allows several other events such as football, concerts, and pro wrestling to take place throughout the year.
The bullpens are behind the right field fence. Behind and above the bullpens are the scoreboard, video screen, and several advertising panels. One of the advertisements is for Pitt Lite, the official mining light of the ball club. Their advertisement includes a large mining helmet light that is turned on during the game.
A new exit off of Interstate 57 essentially leads you right to the Rent One Park parking lot. The stadium is set back from IL Route 13, the main thoroughfare in Marion that leads to Carbondale, home of Southern Illinois University. Route 13 has been developed significantly since the early 1990's. The road now features a mall, numerous big box stores, chain restaurants, and hotels.
17th Street BBQ is one of the closest restaurants to Rent One Park. The restaurant has been featured on the Food Network and Travel Channel. The menu features a wide variety of appetizers, sandwiches and platters. The pulled pork sandwich is big and filling and hushpuppies are a welcome sight as a side item. The bar features several local selections from Big Muddy Brewing out of Murphysboro, Illinois.
Along with Southern Illinois Salukis sports, Miners baseball has become a source of pride for the folks in and around Marion. The success and stability of the team has endeared the Miners to the community. While fans aren't coming out in the record numbers of the opening season anymore, there are still plenty of excited and knowledgeable folks attending games in team gear. That is not always the case with independent baseball.
Parking is available for $3 in a spacious lot just outside the main stadium gates. You should have no trouble getting in and out of the lot. Keep an eye peeled for fans that are staying at one of the nearby hotels and walking back after the game.
Rent One Park features plenty of clean, large restrooms with no waiting in line.
The Miners sell box seats for $9 or two club seats for $14. I would recommend checking in ahead of time with the team's website to see if they are offering any deals when you plan to attend.
Tickets and parking are comparable with other independent sports franchises. My meal of a Polish sausage, garlic fries, and a regular soda was a fair deal at $10.75.
On the outfield wall is a sign honoring former Miner, Joey Metropolous. The ninth round draft pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004 became a fan favorite in Marion for his home run power and had his jersey retired in 2014.
Nearly every Miners game has some sort of promotion or special theme. The game I attended was on the first Saturday of the college football season. Much of the night featured players using college fight songs as their walkup music. Some players represented their alma maters, but others apparently just had a school and fight song assigned to them. It was a nice tie-in to what was going on in the sports world that day.
Baseball remains king in southern Illinois. While the Miners will never replace the St. Louis Cardinals in the hearts of area residents, Rent One Park has become a destination for local sports fans.
Member Review by paul
In 2007, the Southern Illinois Miners joined the Frontier League, marking the first time since 1948 that a professional baseball team played in Marion, Illinois. From the very beginning, the team has had tremendous success. In their first season, the team set a new attendance record for the Frontier League, surpassing 250,000 fans for the season turnstiles.
With the exception of the pitching mound (which is dirt), the stadium utilizes Sportexe Turf as the playing surface. This is the one major disappointment as a fan at Rent One Park. During my visit there was a close play at home which was made somewhat anti-climactic when the head-first slide yielded no sound, or visually stimulating dirt splashing from the field. It is especially ridiculous that the warning track is turf, completely negating the whole point of having a warning track!
That one complaint aside, a trip to Rent One Park is a great experience, and one of the best that the independent Frontier League has to offer.
Member Review by Jordan_Baer on Sep 30, 2013
Marion, Illinois isn’t your traditional baseball town. In fact, most visitors recognize it as a road stop along I-57. With a population just a little over 17,000, most of the area’s sports history is synonymous with Marion’s sister city Carbondale where the Southern Illinois Salukis boast notable alumni such as Walt Frazier and have made it to the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen.
In 2007, Marion drastically upgraded their image in the sports world with the opening of Rent One Park. After a failed attempt to convince a franchise in the Midwest League to relocate, local lawyer John Simmons convinced the Frontier League to award Marion an expansion franchise. This request was formally approved in August of 2006. Starting out in the 2007 Frontier League season, the Southern Illinois Miners began playing home games at Rent One Park. This success became a historical milestone for Marion as no professional baseball team has ever called the city home since the Marion Indians did in 1948.
Rent One Park pays tribute to Southern Illinois’ coal heritage by displaying historical pictures of coal mining down both the first and third base line. The ballpark boasts 3,400 permanent seats, 14 luxury boxes, and a total capacity of roughly 7,000 when lawn seats and premium seats are factored in.
Right off the bat, baseball in Marion has been a success. In their inaugural 2007 season, the Miners set the Frontier League season attendance record by bringing 259,392 fans through the turnstiles. The Miners also became the first Frontier League franchise to average 5,000 or more fans a game. The Miners capped all of this success off with a Frontier League championship in 2012.
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1306 Halfway Road
Marion, IL 62959
2609 Blue Heron Dr
Marion, IL 62959