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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.
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 concession stands each down the 3rd base and 1st base lines. They are out of view of the field. Both serve the traditional Klement's hot dogs, brats, cheddarwurst ($2.00 - $3.75). Other food items include hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, pizza ($2.50 - $5.00). Snacks and fried food include fish sandwich, french fries, onion rings, cheese curds, peanuts, pretzels, cracker jacks, etc. ($1.50 - $4.50).
They serve a local beer called Angry Cedar, $5 for 22 oz. Regular domestic beer is $2.00 (this might have been a special Thirsty Thursday game I attended).
While the food choices may not 'wow' anyone, the prices certainly will. There is nothing more than $5.00.
There are nice, green trees to view beyond the outfield wall. The stadium seating is all benches except for a few 'special' seating areas (folded chairs) behind home plate (which is behind a net). The benches are metal all along the base line; wood along the left field beyond 3rd base.
They did let me in pre-game to walk around and take photos and figure out where I wanted to sit for the evening game. Nicely done. There is a spot between the net and the chain link fence on both the 1st and 3rd base sides with an opening for fans to watch the game without either of those obstructions being in the way.
There is a wall of photos down the first base outer concourse which displays photos of past teams who played at Riverfront Stadium
The one very glaring downfall to this stadium game day operation is the noise/music played during the game. Some noise is played between each and every pitch (during both home and away players at-bats). Not just the player changes - it is each and EVERY pitch. It is quite intrusive. It made a nice game at the ballpark not so nice. I even tried moving from the 3rd base side to the 1st base side to see if it made a difference. It did not.
Riverfront Stadium is in the Cedar River Park area. It is adjacent to the Fairview Cemetery. I did not notice any restaurants or pubs within walking distance to the stadium.
In downtown Waterloo, there is the Jameson's Public House, an Irish pub worth visiting.
There is also the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum that is a must see. Even if you don't see a game at Riverfront Stadium, visit this museum when you're in town. The museum is named in honor of the Five Sullivan Brothers, from Waterloo, who died during WWII while serving together on the USS Juneau. When visiting this museum, you are given a 'dog tag' and are a specific Iowan through all the wars and conflicts in US history. By swiping your dog tag you get to hear how your persona might have experienced the war.
The fans did cheer on the Bucks and there were many in attendance but one could not hear them over the music/noise between every pitch and that's a shame.
The parking is free. It is easy to get to and find by car. There is no public transportation that I could find and there is minimal traffic after the game. Restrooms serve their purpose.
With $5 for a ticket, $2 for a hot dog, and $5 for a 22 oz local beer one can't go wrong. Just turn off some of the music/noise and it would be an excellent evening at the ballpark.
This was this author's 150th baseball stadium visit. The Bucks asked me if I wanted to throw out the first pitch but I declined. In hindsight, I should have done it. The Bucks allowed fans to run the bases and play catch in the outfield after the game. And, they allowed me to tour and check out the stadium earlier in the day.
Waterloo, IA is a fine city and it has an excellent ballpark in Riverfront Stadium. Just turn down/off the music and noise between every pitch and it would be a perfect baseball destination.
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503 South Street
Waterloo, IA 50701
2011 Laporte Road
Waterloo, IA 50702