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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

American Legion Field - Danville Otterbots


Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

American Legion Field 302 River Park Dr Danville, VA 24540

Year Opened: 1993

Capacity: 2,588

 

No Otter Baseball Team Like Danville

American Legion Field in Danville, Virginia, opened in 1993 as the home of the Danville Braves. The club played in the Appalachian League, which at the time was at the Rookie Advanced Level of Minor League Baseball, and was the first stop on the professional journey of many prospects.


In 2020, Major League Baseball eliminated the Rookie Advanced level and the Appy League became a summer collegiate league for rising freshmen and sophomores associated with USA Baseball's Prospect Pipeline. At that time, the club changed its name from that of its former parent club to the Danville Otterbots. The "Otter" part of the nickname references the playfulness of otters and the nearby Dan River, while the "bot" part of the nickname reflects Danville's role as a growing STEM hub.


American Legion Field is also home to the Danville Dairy Daddies of the Old North State League, another summer collegiate league. The Dairy Daddies play at home on days when the Otterbots are on the road and went viral for their logo of an extremely muscular cow. This review will focus on the Otterbots experience, but there are many common elements.


Food & Beverage 4

Concessions are sold out of several windows behind the grandstand. You will find a wide range of options here, including hot dogs, burgers, chicken tenders, grilled chicken sandwiches (those previous two available in buffalo or regular form), barbecue sandwiches (which in this part of the country invariably means pork), and bratwurst. Hot dogs are available in regular or footlong size and can come topped with chili and cheese or peppers and onions if you wish. Snacks include french fries, funnel cake fries, soft pretzels, popcorn, peanuts, nachos, chips, cotton candy, and Icees.


There are also some special options available. The Scotter Dog, named after the team's mascot, is a footlong hot dog topped with pulled pork and barbecue sauce. The Bots Fries are french fries topped with pulled pork, barbecue sauce, nacho cheese, and jalapeños. They used to offer a similar item with tater tots and called the dish the Ottertots, but now it is in french fry form, thus ruining what was an amusing pun.


Combos are also available, with your choice of a hot dog, hamburger, cheeseburger, or chicken tenders, plus fries and a drink, available at a discounted price.


Soft drinks are all Pepsi products, and beer is available at a separate window.




Atmosphere 4

There are three "sections" of reserved chairback seats at American Legion Field under a covered grandstand behind home plate. However, we use the term "sections" useless, because each assigned section has several sections of seats with aisles in between. These seats have fans above blowing air to keep spectators cool on hot days. Uncovered general admission bleachers are located on either side of the grandstand. Wherever you sit, you will have a good view of the action.


An open-air, uncovered concourse runs behind the seating area, although you cannot see the field from here. This is where you will find concessions, the merchandise stand, restrooms, and everything else you might be looking for other than your seat. A second, much narrower walkway allows fans to get around the reserved sections.


The Otterbots have the usual on-field contests between innings, usually with kids picked out of the stands to compete for various prizes. There are no truly unique contests, but they do keep fans engaged.


The Otterbots have a mascot named Scotter, who appears to be a regular otter rather than a robotic one, although maybe this is like in Blade Runner where you have incredibly realistic robot animals. Scotter gets up to numerous hijinks in the stands including pretending to eat fans' food, mocking them for being on their phones during the game, and going sliding down the railing of the seating area.


Following the playing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the Seventh Inning stretch, the Otterbots play "Cotton Eyed Joe" and fans are encouraged to dance along. Scotter will lead the dancing while pretending to eat a giant energy bar and encourage the crowd to have energy themselves.


The scoreboard at American Legion Memorial Field is in left-center field and can show information on players as well as the linescore and other basic information. The Otterbots will also often show graphics gently mocking the other team. For the game Stadium Journey attended against the Pulaski River Turtles, they showed a graphic of Franklin the Turtle and his sister, with their father replaced by the Otterbots logo looming over them.



Neighborhood 3

American Legion Field is located inside Dan Daniel Memorial Park, adjacent to the Dan River in the City of Danville. There are several other things to do in the park itself, including a children's playground, a skate park, and several hiking and walking trails. Keep in mind the park (other than the stadium itself) closes at dusk, so you will not be able to use any of the facilities after the game.


The Dan River bisects Danville, and many local businesses are located on or near the river. The Cotton at Riverside Mill offers sweeping river views as well as alcohol and various entrees. Checkered Pig serves award-winning barbecue (as always, pork) plus ribs and brisket. There are several chain restaurants and hotels as well.


Danville only has about 40,000 people, so it is not a hustling, bustling city but it is not boring either.


Fans 4

While weeknight games don't draw as well, Otterbots games on a Saturday night can draw close to 2,000 fans in a stadium that seats around 2,500. The fans are full of energy and love cheering on their team and interacting with Scotter. Many of them come dressed in Otterbots gear they bring themselves or get at the stadium.


Of course, your experience will vary depending on what night of the week you go, but on a Saturday night, the crowd at an Otterbots game is full and ready to rock.



Access 3

To get to Danville, take US Route 29 almost to the North Carolina state line (or just over it if coming from the south.) Take the exit for Dan Daniel Memorial Park and follow the road to the stadium. If not using a GPS, you will have to look for the stadium yourself as it is not signed particularly well.


There is a small lot next to the stadium, which will fill up if you don't get there early enough. Be warned that it is within foul ball territory. Several other lots are located nearby and throughout Dan Daniel Memorial Park, so you should have no trouble parking. However, you may have to walk a bit.


Restrooms are located on the outer concourse and are generally of a sufficient size for the crowd. The outer concourse itself has plenty of space, although the walkway in the grandstand is quite narrow. Fortunately, people usually move quickly so as not to block others. Please be polite and do the same.


Return on Investment 5

Otterbots tickets are just $11 for reserved seats and $8 for general admission. Concessions are generally priced quite reasonably, although you may pay a few extra dollars for premium items. However, a regular-sized hot dog is just $3 and a cheeseburger just $5. Even the most expensive non-alcoholic item, the Scotter Dog with all its toppings, is just $12, which is less than you'd pay for more basic items at many stadiums.


Extras 4

Look for the history wall just inside the main entrance. This honors all the baseball teams that have played in Danville over the years. In addition to the aforementioned Danville Braves, the wall honors the Danville All-Stars of the Negro Leagues, the Danville Leafs, who were a minor league team from 1906 to 1958 and competed under several different names, and the Danville 97s, a Carolina League team who competed in the league for only one year in 1998 as a temporary situation while the Myrtle Beach Pelicans' stadium was being built.


There is a team store on the concourse selling not just Otterbots merchandise but that of the Danville Dairy Daddies, the other team to play here. Both teams are known for their unique nicknames and logos and so the merchandise is very popular.


A kids' play area is located down the right field line.


A fourth and final star for Scotter the Otter (or is he a robot otter?) He is a unique mascot with wild antics and hijinks and is always a crowd favorite.




Final Thoughts

An Otterbots game is an enjoyable way to spend a warm summer night watching a baseball game. With an intimate stadium and a crazy mascot, it's affordable fun for the whole family.


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