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Official Review by Justin Sutton, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Located near Knoxville, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in the suburb of Kodak, Smokies Stadium plays host to the Tennessee Smokies, the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. The stadium, in operation since 2000, has hosted the Smokies ever since the team moved out of Knoxville.
Whether a diehard, a fan passing by, or someone looking to do a little something different in the Smokies after a long day of hiking, a game at Smokies Park will have everything a fan needs to enjoy a baseball game.
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".
Smokies Park features a pretty solid variety of food at the ballpark including a variety of nachos, sandwiches and snacks. While there is nothing that just jumps out, most everything is pretty good and sold at a reasonable price.
Barbecue fans can get a sandwich or nachos for $7. Nachos grande come in at $5 and plain nachos come in at $4. Pepperoni or cheese pizza cost $6, which is the same price as a salad. On more of the snack side, ice cream, pretzels, and peanuts all cost $4, and for a little bit less, fans can purchase caramel corn ($3), slim jims ($2) or chips ($1). Large sodas, which are Pepsi products, cost $5, and water costs $3.50.
In addition, fans can snag hamburgers, hot dogs and corn dogs. The Double Play Cafe also offers a variety of sandwiches and has an all you can eat buffet from the time the gates open until the first pitch.
Smokies Park also has a variety of beer available beyond the basics: Angry Orchard, Shiner Bock and Blue Moon can be purchased, and some more local beers such as Appalachian Pale Ale and Slim Lizzy are available as well.
If an interesting non-alcoholic drink is what is needed, check out the Cherrywine soda. It is not available at every concession stand, but it is a great cherry flavored drink.
Going to a game at Smokies Park will keep fans entertained for the entire contest. The team runs promotions and games in most of the down time during the game.
In addition to the extras on the field, the staff makes great use of the video board by showing clips of the Rally Llama to get the crowed fired up any time the Smokies are threatening to put together a big inning when behind.
The seating in the ballpark serves the fans pretty well, even though the bleachers far down the outfield lines orient more to center field than the infield. For fans sitting in a chair back, they will find cup holders to help in the prevention of spilling drinks.
In addition, the stadium has party decks and suites available for the games.
Two things that jump out about the stadium are the cleanliness of the park and the feeling of being close to the action. When taking a walk around the stadium, fans will most likely not see one loose piece of trash in the spacious concourses. The restrooms stay clean throughout the game as well. The way the seats are set up, they do not extend very high above the playing surface, keeping fans feeling close to all of the action.
The Smokies have an in-stadium radio feed on 98.1 FM.
Fans hoping to hang out around the stadium and walk to the game are out of luck, as there is not much in the immediate walking area, but since most fans will drive to the game from the surrounding areas, they will have many opportunities for a good time on their way into the game.
Many folks may choose to attend the game while they are staying in the vacation havens of Gatlinburg, Sevierville, or Pigeon Forge. Others will come from the surrounding Knoxville area. If a fan cannot find something to do or something good to eat or drink before the game, they are just not looking. For those never having traveled to the area, Hogg's Upstairs Taverne in Gatlinburg provides a great sports bar for having a few beers and watching games all day. One note to keep in mind is that the bar is 21 and up, so no children are allowed.
In Sevierville, the Roaming Gnome Pub and Eatery has strong reviews, and there is a long list of many other restaurants one can visit in Sevierville, most of which are only about 15 minutes from Smokies Park.
When a game at Smokies Park gets edgy, the crowd knows how to get hot with the game. The fans, while pleasant to be around, have no issues getting after an umpire or opposing player if the situation calls for such actions.
Attendance at games on weekdays tends to be a bit less than attendance on weekend games, so if you want to come to a full ballpark, make a visit on the weekend, but if you want to have more room for yourself, a weekday game is the one to catch.
The fans come off as quite courteous to those in attendance. A visit to Smokies Park ranks highly in terms of pleasant experiences with fans. There is also quite a mix of fans at the games. A good number of young families take in the games on the berm, letting their children run around while the adults watch the games and hang out. A look around the ballpark and you'll also find a lot of people taking the game in on a date, and a mix of others of all ages sitting in the chair backs and in the bleachers.
Sitting within two minutes of Interstate 40, Smokies Park might be one of the most accessible ballparks in the country. In addition to its location off of Interstate 40, the club does a fantastic job on game days of directing traffic and making sure it flows quickly before and after the game. All too often fans are left on their own to navigate out of a stadium after a game, but the local police department and the team do a good job of helping everyone exit quickly as well.
The parking lot runs up to the stadium, and there is plenty of it. This keeps fans from having a long walk to their car after the game.
Inside the stadium, fans have a very short walk to the concession areas or restrooms. All in all, taking in a game at Smokies Park is quite convenient.
Presale ticket prices for a Smokies game are better than reasonable. Fans can sit at field level for $9.50 per ticket, and seniors and children under 12 can get the same seat for $8.50. If fans want, they can sit in the bleachers for $7.50 with a dollar discount for seniors and children under 12. However, the field level seating makes for a deal that is hard to beat.
In addition to these prices, the team often runs promotions that lowers tickets even more such as "get-one-free" promotions or promotions that include all you can eat hamburgers, corn dogs, nachos, hot dogs, fries and Pepsi products with a field level seat for $19.99 a person or $17.99 for seniors and children under 12.
With tickets under $10 and concession prices and parking that will not break the bank, going to a game at Smokies Park can be a fun and affordable experience for the family.
A great feature of Smokies Park is the kids zone area off of the right field line. For $5, a child can get an armband that allows them to play in all of the inflatables and speed pitch games in the zone. In addition, for a dollar a spin, kids (and adults) can spin a wheel to win other prizes.
A second star goes to the staff at the ballpark. The staff will prove to be one of the friendliest found at a stadium, and their pride in the team and organization shows in the way they interact with fans on game day.
The organization has also come up with an exciting series of promotions for fans attending the games. From one dollar drink nights on Thirsty Thursdays to all-you-can-eat tickets to fireworks to base running and more, at some point during the season, there will be a promotion that any fan of baseball will enjoy.
A fourth star goes to the organization for designating a family section. Section 111 does not allow alcohol and is designated as a family section, which may help keep the kids from learning some new words during the game. Even better, the seats are pretty good, just off to the third base side of home plate.
Member Review by ChadMinton on Apr 28, 2012
Ballparks do not get much cozier than Smokies Park, home of the Tennessee Smokies. It’s nestled just a short drive away from the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the stadium is very impressive for a minor league team at the AA level.
Smokies Park first opened in 2000 and has always drawn a great group of fans. The official capacity of Smokies Park is over 6,000, but there have been a few occasions when the attendance eclipsed 7,000 fans.
It’s only fitting that the team that plays in one of the better ballparks in the Southern League is affiliated with the Chicago Cubs, which of course calls historic Wrigley Field home.
Member Review by puckmanri on Aug 24, 2013
If this ballpark were located in downtown Knoxville, it would undoubtedly get a higher score. Still, it's a nice ballpark that hits all the right notes. Bonus points for the seat permanently reserved for POW & MIA's. There's not much to do in the immediate vicinity of the ballpark, but the tourist destinations of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg are close by.
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
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