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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
The city of Chicago has a great legacy as a baseball town, even if it doesn't have the same tradition of winning championships. The Windy City Thunderbolts, while technically located in Crestwood, are a solid addition to that Chicago tradition, and they have the passionate fans to match. Best of all, they actually have established a bit of a championship tradition, winning the Frontier League both in 2008 and 2009.
The stadium itself is a comfortable 3,200-seater, with a rare upper deck for independent minor league baseball. Visitors to Standard Bank Stadium will find a good value for their money, and a focus on baseball much more than the fun and games you find at many minor league parks.
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 prices are reasonable, but I doubt that many fans will feel like they had a life changing experience when sampling from the menu at Standard Bank Stadium. The most expensive food item is an Italian Beef Sandwich for $4.50, and you can find Beggars pizza (a south side classic) for $4 a slice. Pizzas are delivered right as they open the gates, so if you want to go for some pie, do it early while it's fresh. I thought the polish dog was a bit below average, but still a good deal at $3.50.
Thursday and Friday you can find dollar beer night, with Budweiser, Bud Light, and Michelob Light available in the small cup. You can upgrade to a full size beer of Stella, Goose Island 312, or Bud Light Lime for $4.
I really appreciated that the focus was on baseball during my visit. This may make for a less family-friendly atmosphere, but it has always been more important in my book to provide a baseball-friendly atmosphere. The fans are outstanding, and the seats are comfortable with plenty of legroom. I wish they had cup holders on the seats though. It's always easier to cheer when you have two hands available, and there is nothing more heartbreaking than kicking over a beer by accident.
Dillagafs Pub can be found just down the street from the ballpark, and although it looks like a complete dive from the outside, the inside is relatively comfortable and it's a good place to grab a drink or watch a game. It definitely feels like a local bar, but not one that is hostile to a new face.
Further down the road you can find a great little pizza place called Simply Slices. As the name implies, they have tasty little thin crust slices available for $2. They do really simple stuff here, but it is really delicious, and better than the pizza that you will find at the park. Kids eat free with adults on Sundays, and they also offer shaved ice- a perfect accompaniment on a hot day.
I loved the fans at the Windy City game. If you are offended easily, then you may not agree, but a rough-talking south-sider was the perfect cliche for this venue. Curse-laden diatribes about baseball, politics, and sports in general could be heard from various places around me, and I felt right at home. This isn't to imply that this is a bad place to take the kids, I think it's fine, but you may have to adjust your seats accordingly, depending on how important ear muffs are to your young ones.
Standard Bank Stadium is easy to find, and just a short drive south of Chicago. All baseball fans in Chicago should make the short trip to Crestwood at some point to see this team. Parking will cost you a reasonable $2, and bathrooms are adequate.
Overall, this venue is a great deal. Tickets cost as little as $8, and you get a free program as you walk into the stadium. Attend on dollar beer night, and you could easily park your car, buy a ticket, have a couple of drinks, an Italian beef, and an ice cream, and still have change from the $20 bill you had in your pocket.
I'll grant one extra point for the rare upper deck, which always gives you a great perspective on the game. Also, the fans here are really great. It wasn't a full house when I attended, but those at the game really seemed to care about the outcome of every play.
Standard Bank Stadium should be a part of any baseball trip to Chicago, and for Chicago area residents who haven't tried this venue out- do yourself a favor and get down to Crestwood for a game in the near future.
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14208 Cicero Ave
Crestwood, IL 60445
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13330 S Cicero Ave
Crestwood, IL 60445