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Official Review by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Smokies Stadium (then Smokies Park) opened on April 20, 2000 when an above capacity crowd of 7,318 watched the Smokies defeat the Chattanooga Lookouts 10-7. Prior to the opening of Smokies Park, the team played its home games at Bill Meyer Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. After the move, the stands at Bill Meyer Stadium were demolished, however the field remains and is currently used for amateur baseball games.
The Smokies Stadium is located in Kodak, just east of Knoxville and is in close proximity to the tourist destinations of Gatlinburg, Sevierville, and Pigeon Forge. With the Smoky Mountains all around, Smokies Stadium is in a beautiful location and is a great destination for baseball fans.
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".
The Smokies have a good assortment of your basic ballpark fare. The prices are the norm for minor league baseball so, whether you are looking for a hot dog, pizza, burger, or nachos, you are covered. There is also a good assortment of candy and snacks available.
For more options, head down the third base line to the Smoky Mountain Brewery Bullpen. While a bit more expensive than the normal concessions you have your choice of different salads, hand tossed pizzas, numerous sandwich options, wings, and appetizers.
Pepsi products are available throughout the stadium however if you are a fan of soda, give Cheerwine a try. Cheerwine is a cherry flavored soda, available primarily (if not exclusively) in the southeast. It was recommended to me and is quite tasty.
The ballpark also carries your typical beer selection along with some local brews.
Smokies Stadium is very easy on the eyes. Upon entering the stadium there is a lot of green. From the well-manicured playing surface to the grass berm in the outfield to the lush greenery beyond the outfield wall, the ballpark provides a wonderful setting for baseball.
The majority of the seating bowl has roomy stadium seats, while there are bleacher sections towards the outfield on both sides. Spending the extra $2 to sit in the stadium seats is recommended. For those warm summer days and early evenings, the best spots for shade are in the back of sections 110-114.
Behind the left field wall sits Calhoun's at The Yard. This is a great option for groups of 20 or more. For only $29 per person ($26 for kids) you can take in the game and be treated to a full buffet. Beyond the right field wall is Pioneer Porch which, like Calhoun's, host groups and is another great option.
Concessions, restrooms, and a team store round out the concourse. The concourse is well-situated and allows for fans to not miss a pitch while getting something to eat or drink.
There isn't a whole lot to speak of in the area immediately surrounding the ballpark with there being a few gas stations, some fast food options, and a Cracker Barrel. However, there are plenty of things to do along with a litany of places to eat and drink down the road.
For BBQ fans, head to Tony Gore's Smoky Mountain BBQ and Grill. Located about 10 minutes south of the ballpark on Winfield Dunn Parkway, Tony Gore's serves up some great BBQ with big portions and a friendly staff. The ribs and catfish are top notch.
Another good option is the Mason Jar Café. Also located in Sevierville, the café offers a variety of different food options, including everything you would expect when you are in the south.
With this area being a tourist haven, there are an abundance of lodging options. The best bets for typical accommodations are the Hampton Inn, located right next to the ballpark, or a bit further down Winfield Dunn Parkway you will find a La Quinta. The La Quinta rooms are nice and clean, and the price is very reasonable.
For other entertainment, the list is massive. From Dollywood, to a fabulous aquarium in Gatlinburg, there is plenty of entertainment beyond baseball for any and all ages.
It's a tall order to find better fans than the Smokies have. Once you walk into the park it's hard not to be in a good mood. This is clearly reflected in the fans. They are all having a good time, milling about and finding their seats as the players prepare for the game. Prior to the game Dolly Parton's "Rocky Top" is played and the majority of the fans join in singing the song.
Once the game starts the fans are engaged and make extra noise when the situation dictates, give the umpire grief (in a good way), and applaud great efforts by the opposing team. Smokies fans are pleasant folks that enjoy their team and are conscious of those around them, which makes for a fun combination for everyone.
Yet another area where the ballpark shines. Smokies Stadium is located just off Interstate 40 and is a short twenty-mile drive from Knoxville. Getting on and off the freeway is easy and takes a minimal amount of time. With the parking located immediately in front of the stadium, walking to and from your car is minimal.
Inside the ballpark the concourse is wide and getting around is simple. With the layout of the park it won't take long to get your food or drinks, or use the restroom. Restrooms are more than sufficient for the crowds, in addition to being super clean.
Field level seats run $9.50 per ticket. For $2 less you can sit down the lines in the bleachers although field level is recommended. Parking is $5 per car but with the combination of cheap tickets and average or better concession prices, a trip to Smokies Park is very affordable. For the enjoyment you will get from this great ballpark the price is a bargain.
One extra point goes to the great play area for kids. The play area is located in the right field corner and has inflatables, playground equipment, and all sorts of fun things for kids to do. For $5 kids get a wristband that gives them access to the area for the entire game. The playground equipment in the Kids Zone is free for everyone.
The Smokies celebrate their affiliation with the Chicago Cubs throughout the ballpark. The most notable example of that would be the "W" flag the team flies after a Smokies victory, mimicking the practice that occurs at Wrigley Field when the Cubs win.
An extra point goes to the organization for making an extra effort to reach out to seniors and kids. For seniors, the Smokies have a "Silver Smokies" package which allows fans over 55 to attend five home games and receive many other benefits for a mere $25. The team also has designated "no alcohol" sections (all of section 111 and the back of sections 103 and 116) for those who choose to sit there.
When entering the gates, a sign above reads "Americas Friendliest Ballpark." I can't disagree. The fans are tremendous, as are the staff. Bringing some food back from concessions our usher offered to carry the food to our seats for us. Later during the game, while returning from the restroom, a different usher gave my son a ball.
Smokies Stadium is a hidden gem. The price is right, the fans and staff are great, there is plenty to do in the area, and eastern Tennessee is beautiful. All those factors make this ballpark worth going out of your way to enjoy.
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
202 Collier Dr
Sevierville, TN 37862
1818 Winfield Dunn Parkway
Sevierville, TN 37876
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105 Stadium Drive
Kodak, TN 37764