Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
AutoZone Park 200 Union Ave Memphis, TN 38103
Year Opened: 2000
The Redbirds Roost
The Memphis Redbirds are the AAA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. They play in the International League, where their biggest rival is the nearby Nashville Sounds. The Redbirds were founded as an expansion team in the Pacific Coast League in 1998. The Redbirds remained in the PCL until 2019, when they were shifted to the International League as a part of Major League Baseball’s reorganization of the minor leagues. The Redbirds won the PCL Championship four times (2000,2009, 2017 and 2018) and the AAA National Championship in 2018.
The home field for the Redbirds is AutoZone Park in downtown Memphis. When it opened in 2000 the stadium cost a staggering $80.5 million, making it one of the most expensive minor league stadiums in the country. AutoZone Park is built to MLB standards, so that it can easily be expanded to meet the requirements of a future major league baseball franchise. The stadium has a capacity of 10,000 for baseball.
Food & Beverage 4
The concession stands at AutoZone Park offer a wide variety of food options. American Dog offers multiple types of hot dogs, including the Memphis Dog ($7.50) a Veggie Dog ($5) or a Jumbo Hot Dog ($5). It also offers the typical ballpark fare of cracker jacks ($4.50), peanuts ($5.25) and Coca Cola brand sodas ($5). The Farm to Fowl stand offers Beale Street Burgers combos ($12), Cheeseburger combos ($7), Black Bean Burger combos ($9.50) a Chicken Tenders combo ($8.75) and a Fish N Chips combo ($12). All combos include a soft drink and fries.
Fans with a sweet tooth can head to the Sweet Treats concession stand. It offers root beer floats ($8) ice cream in a bowl ($8) or a waffle cone ($7) and cotton candy ($5).
Fans looking for an alcoholic drink can quench their thirst at the Brew House. It offers a wide variety of premium ($11.50 for a 24 oz can) and domestic beers ($10.50 for a 24 oz can) with a wide variety of craft beers ($10.50 for a craft draft or $8.50 for a craft can). The Brew House also sells cocktails ($9.25), margaritas ($11.25) and wine ($8.75).
AutoZone Park is a terrific place to enjoy a baseball game. The developers spared no expense when they built the park. It is money well spent, as it offers a facility that feels more like a major league stadium.
The exterior of the stadium is brick with lots of ornamental iron. There is a fan plaza outside of the main gates that features several baseball statues and metal plates of art featuring a stylized stadium. The team often has a band playing during the pregame activities. As you enter the stadium from the fan plaza you will be behind the home plate. The concourse then splits to two ways, creating a Y-shaped seating bowl. There is also a second, club level set of seats. All seats are close to the action, and the concourse is open to the field, so you will not miss any of the action if you head to the concession stand.
The seating bowl down the first base line offers the largest set of seats in the stadium. The Terminix Terrace, a group seating and party area, is located behind the outfield wall in right field. Towering over the Terminix Terrace is the giant videoboard, which provides event information, replays of the action and fan contests during breaks in the game. A second, horizonal videoboard is built into the left field wall. It provides scores from other International League games and announcements about upcoming events at the stadium.
AutoZone Park is centrally located in downtown Memphis, with easy access to many of the city’s top tourist attractions. The stadium is located just east of the Cotton Row Historic District and just a few blocks over from Historic Beale Street. Memphis is the third largest city in Tennessee and plenty to offer visitors as far as accommodations, great BBQ, and tourist sights.
Beale Street is within walking distance of AutoZone Park. It offers the best in Blues music in several night clubs along the way. Another must see while in the area is the Memphis Rock N Soul Museum. It is curated by the Smithsonian Institute and offers an in depth look at the origins of soul/blues music. Although not in the downtown area, no visit to Memphis can be complete and until you have paid your respects to Elvis and visited Graceland.
Memphis is known as one of the top BBQ destinations in the World. Restaurants especially known for their BBQ include B.B. King’s Blues Club and Corky’s.
Professional baseball has been played in Memphis since 1877 under a wide variety of names, so the local fanbase has been developed through generations of Memphis residents. The longest stretch of years under one name was the Memphis Chicks, whose existence stretched from 1912 – 1960. The fans are extremely knowledgeable and are generally very friendly towards fans from the visiting team (except the hated Nashville Sounds). The Redbirds have an average attendance of 7,913 in their 10,000 seat stadium.
The Redbirds have weekly specials to keep the fans filling the seats. Sundays are Ice Cream Sundays, with each fan receiving an ice cream sandwich. Tuesdays are known as Nacho Average Tuesdays, with free baseball nachos being given to each fan. Thursdays are designated as Throwback Thursdays. The Redbird players don Memphis Chicks uniforms, and drink prices revert to their 1960-era prices. On Fridays, the team sells all you can eat specialty tickets that fans can use to eat buffet-style foods that are usually available to only the club level patrons. Memphis based Terminix sponsors a popular fireworks show every Saturday night.
There is never a dull moment in the action at AutoZone Park. Team mascot Rockey the Redbird roams the stands, leads cheers, and referees contests that are held in between innings.
AutoZone Park is centrally located in the downtown area of Memphis. If you are staying in one of the downtown hotels or in a hotel along the Mississippi River, it is within walking distance of the ballpark.
Memphis also has a Trolley car line which delivers you directly to AutoZone Park. The line has fourteen stops along its route, providing the opportunity to reach your hotel, attractions including Beale Street, the FedEx Forum, the National Civil Rights Museum as well as some terrific BBQ restaurants, all at just a $2.00 cost for a day pass.
There are numerous parking lots surrounding AutoZone Park. They typically have security on site on nights when an AutoZone Park event is scheduled. They typically charge $10 on game nights.
Once at AutoZone Park, you will find it amazingly easy to navigate. The stadium has an exterior plaza before you go through the security at the gate. This provides you with an excellent place to meet your friends prior to the game. There are multiple gates to enter the actual stadium without delay. The concourse area is atop the lower seating bowl of the stadium. Concourses are wide and are open to the field, so you will find them easy to navigate. The club level can be accessed via an elevator or a stairway.
Return on Investment 5
Redbird games are very reasonably priced, which is why you see many families in attendance. Tickets start at $17 for General Admission seating, which includes a grass berm behind the left and right field walls. The lower-level seats along the first and third base lines are priced at $17-20. Seats at the 200 level are considered club level and cost $24. The most expensive seats are in sections 211-215, as they are priced at $67.50, but are also all inclusive for food and beverage.
Getting to a game can be very economical if you use the Trolley system that runs along the bluff and circulates past many of the tourism and lodging locations in the downtown area. A full day ticket is just $2 for unlimited rides. There are three parking lots adjacent to the stadium. If you get there early, there are metered parking spaces nearby. Meters are free after 6pm.
AutoZone Park has hosted the AAA All Star game once as well as the AAA National Championship Game on occasions
The videoboard at AutoZone Park is the largest in the MiLB at 60 X 60.
AutoZone Park has been selected as the Minor League Ballpark of the Year on two occasions.
The third level deck at AutoZone Park has been repurposed as an urban rooftop garden. The Miracle Gro Rooftop Garden is a one-of-a-kind project in Minor League Baseball.
AutoZone Park was the most expensive minor league sports facility in the country when it opened in 2000. It has been money well spent, as it offers a major league experience in a minor league park. The Memphis Redbirds opened shop at AutoZone Park in 2000 and have drawn very well during the past 20 years. Many fans include visits to Graceland or Beale Street before or after a Redbirds game when they are in town.