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Official Review by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Riverfront Stadium opened its doors in 1946 as Municipal Stadium and was home to the Waterloo White Hawks of the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League. In 1958, the stadium played host to a Midwest League team and the relationship continued until the end of the 1993 season when the then Diamonds left Waterloo for Lansing, Michigan, where they remain today.
Riverfront Stadium hosted the University of Northern Iowa baseball team until the end of the 2009 season when UNI got rid of its baseball program.
Currently, Riverfront Stadium plays host to the Waterloo Bucks of the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is a collegiate summer baseball league, comprised of 18 teams. Players must have college eligibility remaining to play and the league uses wooden bats.
As of the 2015 season, the team is under new ownership, having been bought by the ownership of Midwest League member, the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Bucks Assistant General Manager Clayton Grandquist said one of the primary focuses under new ownership is to improve the fan experience at Riverfront Stadium. Having seen games at the stadium in both 2014 and 2015, the team has definitely taken a positive step forward in that very thing.
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".
There are two concessions stands, one on the third base side and one on the first base side. They are on the back side of the seating bowl, out of view of the field. A decent amount of traditional ballpark fare is available at generally reasonable prices.
Among the highlights is the fry helmet ($9). This concoction of all things fried is served in a helmet and if this is your thing, you can't go wrong. The helmet nachos ($7.50) are quite popular as well. Among the other items available are: hot dogs, brats, burgers, walking tacos, pizza, veggie burgers, and your typical snacks, most ranging from $3-$5.
Pepsi products are the soda choices with your best bet being the 32 oz. Bucks cup for $3.50.
Coors Light, Miller Lite, and Keystone Light alumiteks run $4.25 with Mike's Hard Lemonade, Harder Cranberry, and Redd's Apple Ale at $5.25 for tallboys. For more options, there is a small bar located on the first base side, near concessions.
Upon entering the seating bowl, it's hard not notice the wealth of greenery behind the outfield wall with a vast amount of trees taking up the whole area behind the wall, and is very nice on the eyes.
A few rows of box seats sit behind home plate and run from dugout to dugout. The majority of the stadium is general admission with the best GA seats being behind the box seats. The GA seats behind home plate are covered and are certainly a nice option in the heat and humidity of the Midwest. Two sections of bleachers are located down the left field line and one down the right field line. Outside of the box seats, all seats are bleachers with the covered being a bit more comfortable because there are backs to them.
In the right field corner is the Bud Party Deck. Here, groups of 30 or more can take in a game for $25 which includes all you can eat and drink. The Coors Light Lounge is in the left field corner and is for smaller groups of 15 or more for the same cost.
There have been noticeable upgrades made between the 2014 and 2015 season, and all for the positive. The dingy looking green bleachers have fresh blue and yellow paint (the colors of the Bucks) and something as simple as a coat of paint makes an enormous difference.
The speakers were upgraded before the start of the 2015 season, making the sound noticeably better. Music is played between innings when promotions aren't ongoing and the traditional walkup music for the home batters is played. In the past, music was quite often played in between pitches which bordered on the annoying side. If it is still occasionally done, it isn't even noticeable as it is kept to a minimum. The stadium is also noticeably cleaner than in the past. All these factors make for a fun game day experience.
There is very little in the immediate area in the way of food and drink as the stadium is surrounded by a large park area, a cemetery, and a residential area. There are plenty of options around town and within reasonable driving distance. If attending a day game and breakfast is your thing, Morg's Diner is the place for you. Morg's has great food at decent prices and is only a few blocks from the stadium. The one drawback is they close at 1 pm.
Another great option is Jameson's Public House in downtown Waterloo. Jameson's is a great Irish pub and the menu has something for everybody. If you are a fan of Shepherd's Pie, this is about as good as it gets.
Wrestling is big in Iowa. If you are a fan of amateur or professional wrestling, don't leave Waterloo without visiting the Dan Gable Wrestling Museum. The museum has so much to offer for fans of amateur and Olympic wrestling and also has its own wing for professional wrestling. It is definitely worth a visit.
75 minutes east of Waterloo you will find the Field of Dreams movie site, in Dyersville, Iowa. It's a bit of a drive but entirely worth the time, especially in July and August when the corn is at its highest. This site from the iconic movie is an absolute must for any baseball fan and is completely free.
In and around Waterloo there are plenty of options to stay the night.
The passion shown by the fans is very impressive. Gathering at Bucks games is very community oriented and it is a meeting place for friends to catch up and take in some baseball. The Bucks do a good job of incorporating fans into the game through promotions before and during the game. The fans are into the game and generally knowledgeable about what is occurring on the field.
Waterloo isn't centrally located to much else and getting to the stadium is a bit of a trek when coming from out of town. Once you are at the stadium though, getting around is very simple. There is plenty of parking available and avoiding the first couple rows around the front of the stadium is a good idea due to potential foul ball issues. Restrooms are sufficient for the average crowd that the team draws although there may be some wait in a packed house. Getting around isn't an issue with the concessions and restrooms being on the back side of the seating bowl.
It's hard to beat the price of attending a Bucks game. Parking is free. Tickets range from $5 for general admission to $8 for box seats. With the reasonable cost of food and drinks and constant promotions that give better deals, you get tremendous bang for your buck.
The Bucks have a nice team store located near the first base concession stand. Around the park, you will find pennants and other reminders of the Bucks success, a nice look into the past. A nice option, especially for the kids, is the ability to see the teams prepare. Behind the right field Bud Deck are the batting cages. If you arrive early enough, you can watch some of the players taking batting practice up close. Also, along both lines, you can watch the starting pitchers warm up while being literally a few feet away.
Under new ownership, the Bucks have made a concerted effort to make attending a game more fan friendly. The park is much more pleasant to the eye, much cleaner, and the improvement to the sound system and much less intrusion of constant music blaring out of bad speakers has made the game day experience at Riverfront Stadium fabulous. If you find yourself near Waterloo, a trip to Riverfront Stadium will yield a very good time for a minimal amount of money.
Member Review by megminard on Aug 04, 2012
The Waterloo Bucks, play in the Northwoods League, a summer baseball league comprised of top college players. The players in this league get to experience wooden bats, bus road trips like the MiLB players, and playing in stadiums with fans in attendance.
Riverfront Stadium, originally built in 1946, underwent expansive renovations after the 2008 floods in Iowa and those of the Cedar River. One person told me the water reached the top of the entryway overhang that year. New clubhouses, offices, concession stands, locker rooms, entrance, and restrooms have been built as a result of the flood and renovation.
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