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Official Review by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Four Winds Field opened in 1987 as Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium. When it was announced the stadium was being built, plans included the first minor league ballpark to incorporate what is now a common sight, suites. In 1986, Sound Bend was one of two cities to get a Midwest League expansion team and signed a 10-year player development contract with the Chicago White Sox and the team opened play in 1987 as the South Bend White Sox.
In 1994 the team changed its name to the Silver Hawks, as a nod to the Studebaker Silver Hawk that was once manufactured adjacent to the stadium. Upon conclusion of the PDC with the White Sox, the Silver Hawks became the affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, which continued until the end of the 2014 season.
In a boon for the area and the team, due to the proximity to Chicago, the South Bend franchise changed affiliations after the 2014 season concluded, and opened the 2015 season as the single-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Along with the new affiliation, the team changed its name to the South Bend Cubs.
The stadium underwent renovations, which began in 2012. Fans in South Bend now have a stadium that stands as an example of what minor league baseball should be.
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 is no shortage of food and drink options and if you can't find something you want, you probably aren't trying very hard. Smoky Joe's BBQ Shack, located on the concourse, offers up a tasty pulled pork sandwich ($7.75) along with a few other options including BBQ nachos ($8).
Amongst the other numerous options are: burgers, hot dogs, brats, chicken sandwiches, wraps, salads, Reubens, traditional snacks, and numerous ice cream options. Prices are in line with most stadiums, ranging from $3-$8 depending on your particular choice.
Pepsi products are the soda option along with Gatorade, coffee, and hot chocolate. The souvenir cup of soda runs $5 and is the best option.
16 oz. ($5.25) and 24 oz. ($6.25) drafts are available at most concessions areas, with craft beer and mixed drinks running a little more. Wine is also available.
This is definitely where Four Winds Field shines. The setup of the stadium is outstanding and no matter what your tastes, there is a place for fans to comfortably watch the game.
The concourse is primarily open so you can still see the game while getting concessions down both the first and third base lines. Directly behind home plate, the concourse is closed off from field view due to suite and press box entrances. The seats behind home plate are noticeably more comfortable than other stadiums and feel to be wider than a typical stadium seat.
There are plenty of entertainment options for the kids and the setup does not take away from the baseball experience as it does in some other stadiums. Behind the left and center field wall and concourse is a kid's play area. It has numerous inflatables and other options and is a bargain at $5 for the entire game. A very small bubble machine is near the center field entrance and is very popular with the kids. In the right field corner, there is a fountain area for kids along with a jungle gym.
The large video board sits behind the right field wall and is easily seen from anywhere in the park. The team store (Cubs Den) is in the left field corner and a very unique setting for a team store. The Cubs Den was once The Sons of Israel synagogue and was built in 1901. The synagogue was the oldest in South Bend and in disrepair. It was salvaged and underwent a $1 million renovation. In front of the Cubs Den is a small sitting area with a fire pit that provides a unique viewing experience for fans.
Next to the den is the Tiki Hut. The Tiki Hut is an outdoor bar and yet another unique place to watch the game from. Both left and right fields have grass berms for fans that desire to stretch out and take in the game.
Your best bet for food and drinks around the stadium is Fiddler's Hearth Public House. This Irish pub has a wealth of different drinks and some tasty food options. The pub is less than a mile from the ballpark on North Main St.
Another good option is Barnaby's Pizza. Barnaby's is about a four mile drive from the park but worth the drive. They serve up some great pie and if you just want to pop in and have a drink, that is also an option.
If staying in South Bend, there are a large number of places to stay north of the park towards I-80 and on Hwy 20. With South Bend being the home of Notre Dame football, the options are too numerous to mention but there are hotels for every budget.
While in South Bend, give visiting the Notre Dame campus a try. Unfortunately, what seemed to be 90% of the campus was under construction when I visited, with many streets into the campus closed. If you are willing to walk a bit, the tradition of the Notre Dame campus still makes it a destination worth seeing.
Fans have something to be proud of in Four Winds Field and they show up. The heat was stifling on the day I attended but that didn't stop a decent bunch from showing up. The new affiliation with the Cubs seems to have brought in some passionate fans (Chicago is only 95 miles west). In fact, I spoke to some folks that made the trip from Chicago. Many fans around me were discussing the South Bend players and where some might fit into Chicago's lineup down the road. They definitely like their team and know what is occurring on the field.
The park is downtown and there aren't any, quick-off, quick-on roads that get you to the freeway in short order but South Bend does well at providing signage to get fans to the right place. Parking around the area is sufficient and there are enough exits to streets that allow for a fairly painless time getting back on the road. Once inside, the concourses are wide enough for fans to get around without too much effort and there are plenty of clean restrooms to support the crowd.
Parking around the stadium is $5. Tickets cost $9 or $11 for home plate box seats. With the food prices being the norm for baseball stadiums and the tremendous atmosphere you get at Four Winds Field, attending a game is well worth the money and gives you plenty of bang for your buck.
An extra star for the atmosphere since six stars isn't an option. The layout of the stadium and what it offers can't be overstated. Add a star for the new affiliation with the Cubs. With the proximity to Chicago, attending a game is even more attractive to people within a reasonable driving distance. The team did a fabulous job of providing a litany of things for kids to do but it doesn't take away from the great baseball atmosphere. People of all ages can have a great time at the game. Final star to the game day staff. They are a pleasant group and are willing to help with whatever you need to enjoy the game.
The Midwest League has some great ballparks and Four Winds Field ranks among the best. From the uniqueness of a synagogue as the team store to plenty of fun for kids to the new affiliation with the Cubs, the South Bend staff and Four Winds Field provides a fabulous game day presentation. A trip to South Bend and Four Winds Field is well worth the trip.
Member Review by paul
South Bend. A city known first and foremost as the home of the University of Notre Dame. It is a place that has seen a steady decline in its population and industry over the past 50 years. Near downtown South Bend sits Coveleski Stadium, home of the Silver Hawks, a class A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Baseball has long been a part of the fabric of South Bend. The city has been host to teams from the Studebaker plant, Negro League teams, and a professional women's team - the South Bend Blue Sox. Since 1984, there has been a minor league team, and since 1987 Coveleski Stadium has served as that home base.
Member Review by paul on Jun 28, 2012
As of 2012, Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium bears little resemblance to the rundown ballpark that stood in its place just a year or two ago. In January 2012, the sale of the team was approved to Swing-Batter-Swing LLC, and sole shareholder Andrew T. Berlin. For a mere $4 million, the ballpark now has outdoor suites, a new home plate suite, a splash zone water fountain in right field, a new inflatables play area in center field, and a new team store in left field.
Bleacher seating is being replaced by new and modern plastic stadium seats, and the center field gate is a welcoming entrance to the new Cove. What stands now is exactly the reason why it is worthwhile to invest in your local ballpark. What was once a below average experience is now better than many ballparks in the area.
The stadium originally opened in 1987, and the team began play as the South Bend White Sox in 1988. In 1994, the team switched their name to the Silver Hawks and changed affiliations to the Arizona Diamondbacks beginning with the 1997 season. It has been a strong affiliation with several players beginning their careers with the Silver Hawks including Justin Upton and Brandon Webb
Member Review by devroid on Jul 03, 2012
With the new renovations and an emphasis from the owner on the fan experience this is a first rate place that the locals should be proud of. I've been to about 5 games so far this year and I have yet to encounter an employee who doesn't have a smile on their face and an attitude to match. Always looking forward to my next visit.
Member Review by Michael David on Nov 08, 2012
I know 'the Cove' went through some renovations recently, but it's wasn't all that great during my visit. Just your basic drab stadium. There were some fun game for kids which is nice, and the mascot did a great
Member Review by Tccrapsdealer on Sep 10, 2013
Today, I went to Four Winds Field (formerly Coveleski Stadium) for the first time since the renovations. Other than the field turf, I think the park has been much improved. I love the fact that you can now walk all the way around the field. I wish more stadiums had this feature.
Member Review by MarcV on Sep 01, 2014
Four Winds Field was originally built in 1987 and with its open concourse and semi-wrap around concourse, it proved to be a template for future minor league facilities across the country. Still, there was a need for improvement, but its forward thinking design made it much easier to renovate and incorporate a few of the area’s surroundings.
The 5,000 seat stadium can hold up to more customers on its grass seating and has seen attendance numbers increase since renovations began in 2012. The hard work has paid off, and there is a lot to enjoy here at the ballgame.
The stadium originally opened in 1987, and the team began play as the South Bend White Sox in 1988. In 1994, the team switched their name to the Silver Hawks and changed affiliations to the Arizona Diamondbacks beginning with the 1997 season. It has been a strong affiliation with several players beginning their careers with the Silver Hawks including Justin Upton and Brandon Webb.
Member Review by puckmanri on Jul 08, 2015
South Bend has struck gold with their new affiliation with the Cubs. Attendance has increased 25% from the previous year. We were unfortunate enough to visit on a night when the franchise set their all-time attendance record, 8004. The place is just not big enough to handle that many people. There are plenty of distractions here for kids, including a fountain to play in in right field. As a result, there are kids running everywhere, and not many fans seem to be paying attention to the game. On a night where the place is not so crowded, this would be a very nice place to take in a game.
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