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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 there ever since.
The original Veterans Memorial Stadium hosted many different teams in different leagues throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s. In 1962, the original stadium became home to a Midwest League team and has been affiliated with the league ever since, although 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. In 2016, the stadium played host to the Midwest League All-Star Game.
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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, burgers, hot dogs, waffle fries, pretzels, etc. Blue Bunny ice cream is available in different sizes.
The best bet is the Klement's Hot Corner Grill located down the third base line. Here you have options of numerous sized burgers, a turkey burger, pulled pork, cheese steak, and a ribeye sandwich. They also give a litany of different topping choices.
For beverages, Pepsi products are the featured soda along with water and sports drinks.
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 drafts are also available along with wine and mixed drinks.
The majority of the seating is traditional stadium type seating. The seats are comfortably sized and have cup holders. It doesn't much matter where you sit in sections 104-118. All the seats have a great view of the field. If your preference is to stay out of the sun, your best bet is the back rows of club seating, especially behind home plate and the third base dugout. These areas also give you a good view of the scoreboard, which is beyond the right field wall. Down the right field line, sections 100-103, are plaza seating. These are metal bleachers and not particularly comfortable. It's well worth the extra dollar to go with club seats.
The concourse is easy to maneuver and although you have a clear view of the field while standing in line for concessions, there are TV's throughout the concourse with a live feed of the game. A particularly nice feature is the standing tables that line the concourse. If you'd rather stand while eating your food, this is a great option without missing a single pitch.
In the left field corner, there is a play area for kids. It's kind of tucked away behind a concessions area, which makes it difficult for parents to watch both their kids and the game at the same time, but still a nice option.
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 great selection is the Irish Democrat Pub & Grille. About four miles away from the ballpark, the Irish Democrat offers up some great food and plenty of beer options. Just across the river is Bricks Bar & Grill. Bricks offers up a fun atmosphere along with good food and about 60 beers to choose from.
If staying in Cedar Rapids, you have the choice of lodging with a cluster of hotels a couple miles south of the stadium, just off I-380. The Holiday Inn Express is a nice spot, with decent prices, and clean rooms.
While Cedar Rapids isn't the biggest city around, the thing that stuck with me was that everyone seemed to know everyone else, like people were coming to the ballpark with their summer families. It is a refreshing experience and makes for a great time. The fans are quite pleasant, follow along with the game, get loud when the game dictates, and generally enjoy themselves.
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 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. Plenty of handicapped seating is available.
Tickets are priced anywhere from $8-$11 in advance, or $9-$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 the United States.
As a nod to their affiliation with the Minnesota Twins, a prominent sign in left field displays the retired numbers of all the Twins (along with Jackie Robinson's #42).
Inside the Diamond Store, 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. The team offers free tours of the suite level, which has a great timeline of the history of baseball in Cedar Rapids.
The outfield wall has some unique dimensions 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. This is a unique feature that makes for some interesting bounces when the ball goes off the wall. The left field gap is deep and a batter would really have to step on one to get it out of the park there, at a distance of 407 feet.
As with most teams in the Midwest League, the game day staff is tremendous. They are always willing to help and answer any questions.
The staff at Veterans Memorial Stadium has hit on the right mix of presenting an enjoyable time for baseball fans of all ages. The combination of promotions along with the on field product keeps everyone entertained. The ballpark is easy on the eyes, comfortable, and has some great food. If you are traveling through Iowa, make a special trip to Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids. It's well worth the trip.
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.
Member Review by hilch on May 05, 2013
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.
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