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  • Bart Wilhelm

Athletic Park – Wisconsin Woodchucks


Photos by Bart Wilhelm, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Athletic Park 324 E Wausau Ave Wausau, WI 54403

Year Opened: 1936 Capacity: 7,000

 

A Jewel of the Northwoods League

Originally built in 1936, Athletic Park in Wausau, Wisconsin has been housing competitive baseball for over 80 years. Minor league teams such as the Wausau Lumberjacks, Timberjacks, Mets, and the Timbers called Athletic Park home from 1936 to 1990. After the 1990 season, the minor league affiliate moved to Geneva, IL, and, in 1994, the Wisconsin Woodchucks were formed as a charter member of the summer collegiate Northwoods League. Twenty-seven years later, the park has been renovated section by section and is one of the jewels of the league.

Food & Beverage 5

Athletic Park offers a very good selection of food and beverages. There are two main concession stands, one behind the first base dugout and a larger one down the left field line. The dugout stand has pizza slices, soft pretzels, popcorn, and peanuts for $3. They also have vanilla and chocolate soft serve and several frozen treats. A great selection of various craft beers for $5-$6 is for sale.

Down the left field line is a bigger concession stand with several entrée options. The standard hot dog is $3, bratwurst is $4, hamburgers and pulled pork sandwiches both run $5. Several “ballpark favorites” really stand out. They have mac n cheese with bacon for $4 or pulled pork for $5. Regular nachos with cheese and jalapenos are $3.50 or you can upgrade to bbq pulled pork nachos with coleslaw for $7.50. I dove into their Irish nachos. Instead of tortillas, it’s seasoned waffle fries topped with bacon, cheddar cheese sauce, onions, jalapenos, and sour cream. Definitely worth a try!

Other favorites are chili cheese waffle fries and white cheddar cheese curds, $6-$7.

A wide selection of craft beers is available for $5-$6. Miller Lite and Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy are their standards and there are about ten other crafts from various breweries. White Claw cans are $4 and 5-Tool Ale, a Northwoods League exclusive pale ale, is available for $4.50 for a pint-sized can, the cheapest I’ve seen it anywhere in the league.

Bottled water and bottled Pepsi products are $2.75-$3.50.

Atmosphere 4

Athletic Park was originally built in 1936, but the entire ballpark has been rebuilt in the last decade. It feels like a newer ballpark, mainly because it is.

General admission tickets for metal bleachers are $9. These are located down the third baseline. They are attached to the rest of the stands and not just a “temporary section” of seats. Box seats behind home plate are $10. New in 2021 is the Dugout Seats above the first base dugouts for $12. The seats are all raised about 10 feet above the playing field. There is an elevator available for wheelchairs or people who have difficulty with the stairs.

There are various on field games and contests in between innings. Unfortunately, my game was rained out in the 5th inning so I didn’t get to see the whole array of their contests. The scoreboard is above the right field wall and is quite basic. It displays the score, runs, hits, errors, outs, and the player’s number. There is no video board in the stadium.

There were only a few hundred people the night I attended, but a lot of that can be attributed to it being a Monday game with rain in the forecast. I’m told that there is usually a solid fan base that shows up.

Neighborhood 2

The park is in a residential neighborhood. There’s really nothing of note in the immediate area. The only food options within a walking distance are a Subway and Biggby Coffee and Thrive Foodery, an American food restaurant about a block away.

Downtown Wausau and its River District is a mile or so south of the stadium. There’s a large selection of bars and restaurants downtown. The Wisconsin River is also nearby which provides nice scenery for walking.

Many standard hotel chains are within a few miles of the stadium. The Motel 6 ran me less than $50 for the night and is only a few minutes drive away.


Fans 3

I wish there had been more fans on the night that I attended. I loved the ballpark, but it felt a little empty. I’m sure it was just a bad night because of the weather. The fans who were there seemed to be really into the game. I talked to a few people who said they love coming out to the games.

Access 3

While Wausau isn’t near any interstates, State Highway 29 and US 51 are nearby and both are divided highways. The ballpark is about two miles off the junction of those highways. The actual address is 2401 N 3rd Street.

There is no actual parking lot, but a half block beyond the center field fence is a large grassy lot that many people use for parking. There is also street parking available with no meters. There is one main entrance to the park behind home plate.

Return on Investment 3

$9 for a minimum ticket is starting to be a good price for a baseball game. The food selection is very good and the beer prices are very reasonable. This quickly became one of my favorite parks in the league.

Extras 3

One point goes to the renovation job done to the park in recent years. The current owner bought the team about a decade ago and he put his own money into updating the stadium section by section. It looks great.

One point goes to the incredibly friendly staff. Several people noticed that I was wearing a shirt from a rival team in the league (my home park in Traverse City) and they stopped to talk to me about their park and mine. People seemed to go out of their way to talk to me.

One point goes to the elevated seating. I like the raised view and being slightly above the field. It’s a different experience from most ballparks.

Final Thoughts

Athletic Field quickly became one of my favorite parks in the Northwoods League. There might not be any feature that absolutely stands out, but the park just had “it” for me. It’s definitely a ballpark that I’m looking forward to visiting again.

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