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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
Wuerfel Park, home of the Traverse City Beach Bums of the Frontier League, is one of the more unique parks in all of baseball. In fitting with the reputation of Traverse City as a summer destination, filled with beaches and water activities, the team has built their own little beach house overlooking a baseball field.
When approaching the ballpark the fan is put at ease, ready to slide right into vacation mode, and the experience of the game delivers on what the outside promises. This is a great place to sit back and enjoy your vacation, even if it’s only a three hour excursion.
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 a pretty good selection of ballpark favorites, but the best thing about the concessions at Wuerfel Park is the ability to either order inside or outside. Many of the concessions offer indoor seating, which is great if you're there on a particularly hot day or rainy evening. This includes the sandwich shop, and the dessert concession. The sandwich shop offers three items served as either a sandwich ($6) or on nachos ($5) - Philly cheesesteak, pulled pork, or pulled chicken. I tried the pulled pork, and thought it was rather good.
New in 2012, is the Microbrew Pub. They serve up beer from Bell's ($6), and pizza from Jet's ($3.50/slice or $22/pizza).
Walking around the concourse, you'll also find hot dogs ($3.50, or $4 if you add either chili or sauerkraut), brats ($4), ½ pound hawg dog ($7), 1/3 pound bum burger ($6), waffle fries ($3), and chicken tenders ($5). They also had the best soft pretzel that I have had at a ballpark or stadium ($3). It was real doughy with the perfect amount of salt.
If you don't find what you want at the Bell's Microbrew stand, then there are plenty of other options in cans including Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light, Shock Top, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Stella Artois, and Bud Light Lime ($5). Pepsi products are available in 20-ounce bottles ($3).
Comfort and a relaxed atmosphere really pervade the overall experience at a Beach Bums game. The seats are plastic blue chairbacks with better than average legroom and cupholders for each spot ($12 a seat). You also have the option of securing a table for four along the concourse or down either foul line $80 per game for four seats). The seats are very comfortable, and this is a great place to watch the game while catching up with old friends.
Berm seating is available ($6) in the outfield and in the corners just before the foul poles. The grass is thick and soft, so it is a great place to watch the game. If you have kids with you, there is a play area in right field, and parents can easily keep an eye on the game and their child. The play area keeps with the beach theme with sand surrounding the play equipment. I'd recommend having your kid take their shoes off.
The Beach Bums offer plenty of between inning contests. They may have had something going on every break in the action, making for a real challenge for the promotions department I would think. During my most recent visit, it seems liked there were too many similar-styled games, although some were a lot of fun. Less may be more in this department.
My one gripe about this park though is the field itself. While I understand the economic pragmatism that goes into installing an entirely turf field, there's just something missing aesthetically and audibly for the fan. This is one of the few parks that I have seen that is entirely turf, even the pitcher's mound and the batter's box are turf. This must be a strange thing for the visitor's and perhaps even a bit of a home field advantage. Speaking as a fan though, I'd much rather see the imprecise and unpredictable grass and dirt on the field.
Traverse City really is a beautiful town, and well worth exploring if you're coming to town just for a Beach Bums game. As far as bars and restaurants in the immediate neighborhood of Wuerfel Park though, there isn't much. There's a Crusted Creations pizza place nearby, and a Culver's across the street, but you're mostly looking at chain restaurants in the immediate vicinity.
My recommendation would be to head to downtown Traverse City. Try the Seven Months Taproom if you want a place with great drinks and good food. They have 45 beers on tap, and several tasty and interesting bar food ideas.
If you're looking for a wonderful restaurant, then I would recommend Trattoria Stella. They use mostly local products, and serve up really inventive and delicious food. This is perfect if you are a bit of an adventurous eater.
I was pretty impressed with the fans at my most recent visit to see the Beach Bums. Most notably, in the 4th inning, Traverse City had yet to get a hit. One fan began to boisterously make note of it (thus to jinx the no-hitter in his team's favor), and a chant began (no-hit-ter, no-hit-ter). Two batters later the no-no was no more.
More generally though, the people in attendance seemed to be really into the game. I heard several fans referring to players by name. Many stood when the Beach Bums pitcher's no-hitter was broken up in the 7th inning, and many stayed for the entirety of the game, despite less than perfect weather.
Wuerfel Park can be found just off of Division Street (M-37/US-31), and will be fairly visible to the west side of the road. As I approached during my recent visit, I realized I didn't have any cash on me, so instead of pulling into the parking lot I parked on the street just outside the parking lot. I learned two things. First, I saved $2 (a reasonable sum for parking, but still always good to save a couple of bucks). Second, I was able to leave after the game much more easily. This would be my recommendation to other fans as well.
Once inside, you'll find this to be a very comfortable ballpark. It is rather easy to walk around the entire concourse, and I found the bathrooms to be a little small, but very clean, and I didn't notice any lines during my visit.
Overall, the experience of attending a Traverse City Beach Bums game is well worth the cost. With a lawn seat ($6), sandwich ($6), and beer ($6) you still won't need more than a twenty dollar bill even if you ignore my advice and park in the parking lot ($2). This is an easy addition to a trip for vacationers to the area, or locals who just want to go see some baseball in a comfortable setting.
One extra point for the dual mascots- Suntan and Sunburn. They seem to split the stadium in two and work the crowd on their assigned side.
Another extra point for the break that the team takes at each game in the middle of the 6th inning to recognize veterans. They ask veterans to stand, and the crowd gives rousing ovation.
One extra point for a better than average scoreboard, at least by independent professional baseball standards. It has a video screen and also displays season stats for all of the batters.
This is my second time doing a formal review of Wuerfel Park, and I must admit that I may have been too hard last time as I like the park much better the second time around. That field turf drives me a little nuts, but once you remove that from the equation, this really is an outstanding ballpark, and fits perfectly with the vibe of Traverse City. I can certainly recommend a trip to Wuerfel Park to see the Beach Bums.
Member Review by paul
Just south of the picturesque town of Traverse City, Michigan, sits Wuerfel Park. The stadium, and its tenants, the Traverse City Beach Bums, reflect the town in which they reside. Traverse City is located at the base of the Old Mission and Leelanau Peninsulas, and it is a summertime favorite of many tourists and locals who flock to the water and the beautiful beaches.
The exterior and interior of Wuerfel Park continue the beach resort feel, and the playground in right field has, of course, sand. It's a beautiful park with only one, terribly glaring inadequacy. When you look down on the field you see no grass, and no dirt. Not a blade. Not a grain. It is an absolute cardinal sin, and difficult to forgive despite the many fine amenities that can be found.
Member Review by jbrady on Jun 08, 2011
We enjoy going to this park in the summer. Easy to get to from TC and has a playground in the outfield that the kids love when they need a break from the game.
Member Review by REVIEWS101 on Apr 21, 2012
I have never been to Wuerfel Park before, my first game was
July 15th, 2011 and that was against the Windy City Thunderbolts. What I liked was the spectacular view of the field from our seats, the fireworks, the silly "between inning" fun, the food and just overall that it had a family friendly atmosphere. The PA Announcer Tim Moeggenberg truly gets the fans hyped up. I recommend you bring a camera or binoculars, money and comfortable walking shoes. Have a great time.
Member Review by REVIEWS101 on May 20, 2012
Opening Statement: On July 15th 2011, my mom and dad took me out to see the Beach Bums take on the Windy City(from Crestwood, Illinois) Thunderbolts.
What I liked/disliked: I liked the fact that the entire ballpark(exterior and interior) resembled beach houses. The fans were non rowdy, the atmosphere was great, seats were comfortable, the on-field Emcee was fun, the PA Announcer had both seriousness and humor in him, there are 2 fun mascots; Suntan and Sunburn. What I didn't care fore noise wise were the fireworks, they set them off during the national anthem and when the bums got a home run. but that's it.
I recommend: You wear sunblock and a hat before coming to the park, bring money for the concession stand or souvenir
Closing Statement: This is an awesome park, can't express this enough and I would really love to go back again sometime.
Member Review by ericapsmith12 on Jul 18, 2013
The Traverse City Beach Bums are the utmost WORST company to work for. Their turnover rate for employees is absolutely horrendous. Every year their whole staff quits because the Wuerfel's treat them like dirt. The employees are picked on, talked about behind their backs, harassed and poorly paid for all their hard work. Interns do not last any longer than the full time employees. I hope someone reads this before taking a job with them so they know what they are getting in to. Working with Leslye Wuerfel is a living hell. Just be aware of all this before working for them OR before giving them your money at a game.
221 Garland Street
Traverse City, MI 49684
2455 N US 31 South
Traverse City, MI 49684
128 S Union St
Traverse City, MI 49684