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Official Review by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, opened in 2002. The current stadium replaced the original Veterans Memorial Stadium, now the parking lot, that opened in 1949 and closed in 2001. Cedar Rapids has a rich baseball history that began in the late 19th century. After a seven year hiatus due to World War II, baseball returned to Cedar Rapids in 1949 and has been played here ever since.
The original Veterans Memorial Stadium hosted many different teams in different leagues throughout the forties and fifties. In 1962, the original stadium became home to a Midwest League team and has been affiliated with the league ever since, under different names. The Kernels have played in Cedar Rapids since 1993. In 2009, Perfect Game USA, a baseball scouting company headquartered in Cedar Rapids, bought the naming rights to the field which is now called, Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium. In 2013, the Cedar Rapids Kernels became a single-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins after having spent 20 seasons as an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
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".
Nothing jumps out at you as being very unique with the food options. There is a decent variety including tenderloin sandwiches - an Iowa staple ($6.00), hot dogs ($3.00), burgers, waffle fries, pretzels, etc. Blue Bunny ice cream is available in different sizes ($3.25 and up).
Behind third base is the Klements Hot Corner Grill. Here, you can choose three toppings to go on your burger ($7.25) or double burger ($9.00). Among the choices of toppings are: mushrooms, sauerkraut, pineapple, roasted peppers, and bleu cheese. Other food choices include a steak sandwich ($8.50), Philly cheese steak ($8.50), and pulled pork ($7.00).
Pepsi products ($3.25) are available along with Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew. Other drink choices include Icee's ($3.50 for 16oz or $4.50 for 24oz), Capri Juice ($1.00), coffee ($1.00) and hot chocolate ($1.00).
Beer on tap is separated by regular and premium. Regular includes Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, and Budweiser. Drafts come in 16, 20, and 32 ounce sizes and range in price from $4.50 to $8.00. Premium choices include Blue Moon Belgian White, Boulevard Wheat, and Michelob Amber Bock and come in the same sizes as regular draft but for a dollar more. In addition to beer, mixed drinks are available for $6.00.
As with Ashford University Field in nearby Clinton, Iowa, Veterans Memorial has something of an old time feel to it. While there are on field promotions, the Kernels don't overdo it and their main focus seems to be presenting a fun baseball experience for the fans.
The majority of the seating is traditional stadium type seating. The seats are comfortable sized and have cup holders. Down the right field line, sections 100-103, is plaza seating. These are bleacher style metal seats and not overly comfortable. On the left side, beyond third base, is a grassy area where you can spread out a blanket and enjoy the sun if you so desire.
Down the left field line is a kid's play area. The problem with it is that it is stuck behind some bathrooms and ice cream concessions. As such, parents can watch their kids play or watch the game but not both.
A nice feature at the stadium are the televisions at the concession areas. Generally, the lines are very short but should you get stuck in one, you can watch every pitch while waiting.
Veterans Memorial is situated in a complex style setting along with the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, home to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL, a multi-purpose high school stadium, a small tennis complex, and a park. The stadium is located in the Kingston district, in southwest Cedar Rapids. This area of town is home to a mix of industrial and residential sections. As such, entertainment venues, bars, and restaurants are hard to come by, but there are a few good options.
Directly across the street is the Stadium Lounge. While not the flashiest place around, the traditional bar style food is good, drinks are reasonably priced, and the employees are pleasant.
A mile east on 8th Avenue, is The Flying Wienie. It's hard to miss as there is an airplane on the roof of the building. For fans of Chicago style food, this is your place. They offer Vienna Beef hot dogs and all the ingredients in their sausage are brought in, direct from Chicago. In addition to hot dogs, they have burgers, ribs, gyros, and Italian beef sandwiches.
Gilligan's Pub N Grubb is about a mile north, on 1st Avenue. Gilligan's has a limited bar menu but the drinks are cold and priced well. It's a good place to go before or after the game for a drink.
On the day I attended the game in late April, 2013, there was an inordinate amount of kids at the game as it was the "halfway to Halloween" promotion. As such, there was a parade of kids in their costumes before the game. While most stayed, many weren't too interested in the game. The remaining fans were generally engaged, cheering when it seemed appropriate. The fans were also very pleasant and polite.
Veterans Memorial Stadium is located about a mile away from I-380 and is easy to find. Upon arriving, there is plenty of parking, which is all free. Once inside, the concourse is wide and getting around the stadium is very easy. The restrooms are clean and seem sufficient for the amount of fans that generally attend the games. Getting in and out of the stadium is easy and the vast majority of concessions are situated so you won't miss any of the game if you are standing in a line.
Tickets are priced anywhere from $7-$11 in advance, or $8-$12 on game day. With parking being free and the concessions around what you would pay elsewhere, a trip to Veterans Memorial Stadium is a good value and an enjoyable time.
Before, or after the game, a visit to the Linn County All Veterans Memorial is a must. It is located just outside the stadium and is a very well done tribute to the local men and women who served our country.
On the floor of the concourse, there is a "walk of fame," similar to Hollywood, that celebrates former Cedar Rapids players that went on to play in Major League Baseball.
Inside the Diamond Shop (gift shop), is a room that houses the Cedar Rapids Baseball Hall of Fame. This is a must see if you are interested in the history of baseball in this city. On the wall are pictures and bios of those in the Hall. Display cases house old documents, uniforms, bats, balls, and autographs of some of the players that spent a portion of their careers in Cedar Rapids.
On the left-centerfield wall, is a tribute to Nick Adenhart. Adenhart was an up and coming pitcher in the Angels organization who was tragically killed by a drunk driver the night after he won his first start in an Angels uniform. He pitched for the Kernels in 2006.
Left field is very unique at Veterans Memorial Park. Down the line measures 315 feet. The wall enters the playing area and about fifteen to twenty feet in, goes back at an angle, and then straightens out again to fairly traditional dimensions. This is a unique feature that makes for some interesting bounces when the ball goes off the wall.
Veterans Memorial Stadium doesn't have the big video boards or the most up to date stadium around. It does have a pleasant atmosphere, a good value, and nice people. Simply put, Veterans Memorial Stadium is a nice place to sit back, enjoy a drink, and watch a ballgame.
Member Review by Tige_Hutcheson
When describing Veterans Memorial Stadium, "charming" might not be the first word that comes to mind. And while many ballpark connoisseurs search for exactly that--parks with charm--Veterans Memorial Stadium makes up for it with a noticeable class and pride that cannot be described through pictures and descriptions. In many ways, Veterans Memorial Stadium, often referred to as "Vets", has remained unchanged despite being demolished, re-designed, and rebuilt in 2002. As beautiful of a park as it is, the personality of Veterans Memorial Stadium compliments some of the most respectable facilities in minor league baseball with a quiet respect for the simple, yet proud past that preceded it.
As a tribute to veterans of all wars, the original Veterans Memorial Stadium was opened in 1949, with the intention of helping Iowans remember their past, even as they embrace the future. Backed by the city of Cedar Rapids and the Veterans Memorial Commission, the thought behind Veterans Memorial Stadium has managed to last over 60 years.
Cedar Rapids, IA was awarded a Midwest League franchise in 1962, and ever since Cedar Rapids has been used as a breeding ground for prospects of the Milwaukee Braves, Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and, beginning the 2013 baseball season, the Cedar Rapids Kernels are a Class A minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.
Member Review by megminard on Sep 23, 2012
The stadium is now call Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The end of the 2012 season the Kernels announced an affiliation with the Minnesota Twins (vs. LA Angels)
The two highlights are:
Honor to American Veterans - do check out the bricks, statues, plaques outside the park honoring all who have served for the USA, and
History of major league players who have played in Cedar Rapids on both the concourse floor and on the section signs.
The major downfall:
Lack of sufficient customer service. No hellos or thank you for attending. No smiles from staff. My perception is the Kernels did not really appreciate my attending a game there nor did they show evidence they wanted me to come back.
957 Rockford Rd SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
103 8th Ave SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
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