- Lloyd Brown
Arvest Ballpark – Northwest Arkansas Naturals
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Arvest Ballpark 3000 S 56th St Springdale, AR 72762
Northwest Arkansas Naturals website
Year Opened: 2008
Arkansas has always billed itself as the Natural State in tourism campaigns, due to the natural beauty of the Ozarks, the many rivers crossing the state, and the spectacular leaf colors during each fall. The Natural is also the name of one of the best baseball movies ever made, starring Robert Redford and his magical bat. The owners of the Double-A affiliate for the Kansas City Royals combined these two concepts of the word “natural” together to name their franchise the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The franchise is located in Springdale, Arkansas, and is a member of the Texas League. They won the Texas League Championship in 2010, and were the North Division winners in 2009 and 2015. The NW Arkansas Naturals have called the 7,305 capacity-crowd Arvest Ballpark their home since 2008.
Arvest Ballpark was designed by the famous stadium construction firm HOK (now Populus). As you would suspect, it has a natural turf field, with dimensions of 325 feet down the lines and 400 feet to dead center. It features 5,353 fixed seats, with space for an additional 2,000 fans on the outfield berms. In keeping with the “natural” theme, the exterior of the stadium is constructed of stone from quarries in the Springdale area. The team really takes its name seriously, as other elements of the stadium that are natural in origin are berms, the batter’s eye, and many of the sponsors of the team feature natural products (i.e. Burt’s Bees Lip Balm, etc.). Recycling bins are found throughout the stadium, with proceeds going to local environmental groups.
Food & Beverage 3
One of the first things you will notice about each of the concession stands along the concourse level is that all of them provide a clear view of the field. This means you will not miss any of the action while waiting for your order. You will also be shielded from the hot sun of an Arkansas summer by a fabric canopy. The largest of these stands is known as the Bullpen, and is located along the first baseline. Its features include two HD TVs, six high-top tables and a number of picnic tables covered by umbrellas. More than 60 different beverages are featured in the Bullpen. These include products from Miller, Coors, Budweiser, Corona and Pabst Blue Ribbon (prices range from $5-$6.75 for a 32-ounce cup). Wine ($7) and margaritas ($6.75) are also available.
Here is a sampling of concession prices at Arvest Park: barbecue pork sandwich ($5), nachos ($8.25) hot dogs ($4), chicken sandwich ($4.50), hamburgers ($6), sodas ($4.25), bottled water ($4), chips ($2.50), peanuts ($3.25) and cotton candy ($3.25). Everyone needs to try an Arvest Ballpark specialty — the funnel dog (a hot dog wrapped in funnel cake batter and fried with powdered sugar sprinkled on it for $3.25). Every Thursday is a Thirsty Thursday, when a 16-ounce Miller Light draft goes for $2. In addition to the other concession stands ringing the concourse, Arvest Ballpark has a group party area known as the Bud Light Home Run porch just behind the left field wall. It requires a minimum group size of 50 people, and the one price for all includes an all-you-can-eat buffet, drinks and your game ticket.
The natural theme even carries over to the ice cream concessions, as all products come from a local creamery. Those with a sweet tooth can enjoy ice cream cones ($3.25), an ice cream parfait ($3.25), ice cream sandwiches ($3) and milkshakes ($5.75).
The ownership is building on the fan enthusiasm after winning the North Division title in 2015. One of the new fan amenities that will definitely catch everyone’s eye is the massive new HD video board in the outfield. It is more than 17 feet tall, and the graphics projected from it are much clearer than the previous scoreboard. It also provides more room for stats like pitch speed, length of home runs, etc. The team also makes good use of the new graphics to stir up the fans during an offensive rally, or to cheer on the pitcher during a series of strikeouts The Naturals’ management does a great job of keeping the folks entertained between innings with various contests and the antics of Strike, the team’s mascot mountain man.
Springdale is located in one of the fastest growing areas of the state. It is located north of Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas and south of Bentonville, the corporate home of Walmart. Both of these towns are just a 15-minute drive from Springdale via I-49.
If you’re looking for a good place to grab some drinks after the game, then try Foghorn’s, just a few miles from the ballpark. There are a few hotels in this area as well.
The reason we are guiding you to surrounding cities is that the neighborhood around Arvest Ballpark is… natural. It is literally surrounded by farms, mountains and pastures… and lots of cows. You can’t get more natural than that. The bulk of the hotels are clustered at the I-49 exit for Fayetteville. These hotels include Hampton Inn, Sleep Inn, the Doubletree and Comfort Inn.
The state of Arkansas actually has a long history with baseball, and Naturals fans are very proud of that. The first spring training site for baseball was in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was selected due to its hot natural springs spas located throughout the town. The ballplayers of yesteryear did not do year-round conditioning, so the spas provided needed relief after a tough pre-season workout. Also, the Arkansas Travelers team in Little Rock is one of the founding members of the Texas League. Arkansas’ most famous baseball natives include Dizzy Dean, Lou Brock, Don Kessinger and Brooks Robinson.
The Naturals’ affiliation with the Kansas City Royals is also a major point of pride for the Springdale fans. A majority of the players on the recent Royals World Series teams came up through Arvest Park, as the Royals rely on a strong farm system, rather than free agency, in building their team. Arvest Ballpark is very proud of its family-friendly reputation, and visitors are always welcome. You will not hear trash talking here.
Arvest Ballpark is easily accessible via I-49, which weaves a scenic path through the Ozarks. It is located off exit 72 (State Highway 412/Springdale) and is just west of the interstate. From Highway 412, you would turn at 56th Street to enter the ballpark’s parking lot at the corner of 56th and Watkins Street. The main access gate brings you in behind home plate through a sizeable plaza. Due to the lay of the land, it will also bring you in at the concourse level, with the seating bowl below you.
Return on Investment 3
Arvest Ballpark offers a wide variety of ticket prices for the various parts of the field. One thing to know going in is that if you purchase your tickets online or more than one day in advance of the game, you will receive a $1 discount on the ticket. The prices are as follows: $12 for Super Premium tickets; $10 for Premium tickets; $8 for Reserved seats; and $7 for a space on the grass berm in the outfield. Please consult the seating diagram in the photo gallery for the location at each price level. Parking is $3 per car. The concessions are at par cost-wise with most Texas League parks. Lodging in Springdale will be in the $71-$129 range.
The team features one of the more interesting mascots. So what exactly does a Natural look like? In this case, he looks like a mountain man who has come down out of the Ozarks, with a little bit of the Duck Dynasty fellas thrown in on the side. He goes by the name of Strike the Sasquatch and is 6’9″ tall and weighs 250 pounds. He loves to do selfies, so don’t be scared!
An environmental extra goes to the Naturals for truly capturing the spirit of the word “natural.” Their use of locally-quarried stone in the building materials of the stadium, their many eco-friendly efforts (recycling bins everywhere, low-wattage lighting on the field and financial support for area non-profits involved in environmental issues) and use of locally-produced products are to be applauded.