Bing Crosby Stadium – Front Royal Cardinals
Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Bing Crosby Stadium 200 E 8th Street Front Royal, VA 22630
Year Opened: 1953
Baseball Beyond the Blue Ridge
The Valley Baseball League is an 11-team collegiate summer wood-bat baseball league nestled in Virginia’s scenic Shenandoah Valley. The Valley, as it is simply known to most Virginians, runs north-south across most of the western portion of the state. The VBL includes teams in many small towns across the region, ranging from Winchester in the northwestern part of the state line to several teams in the I-64 corridor a couple hours south.
The Front Royal Cardinals joined the VBL in 1984, playing their home games in Bing Crosby Stadium, at the time already over 30 years old. The stadium underwent major renovations in 2006, over a half century after it opened, to create the current version of the venue. In addition to hosting the Cardinals over the summer, Bing Crosby Stadium also hosts several local high school teams as well as other events such as football games and concerts throughout the year. It is located in Gertrude E. Miller Recreational Park, a Warren County park that also includes a playground, picnic pavilion, athletic fields, and a swimming pool, among other facilities.
Bing Crosby himself was instrumental in fundraising for the stadium that bears his name and donated a good portion of the money himself. The city threw a Bing Crosby Day parade in his honor, and there is a plaque honoring his efforts near the entrance.
Food & Beverage 4
Bing Crosby Stadium has a good selection of food and beverage, and the prices are all extremely affordable. Main courses include hot dogs ($2.50), pizza slices ($3 for cheese or $3.50 for pepperoni), nachos ($3), hamburgers ($3.50, with cheese costing 50 cents extra), and an Italian sausage, which is the most expensive option at just $5. Snacks include tootsie pops for just a quarter, chips and ring pops for $1 each, assorted candy for $1.50, sunflower seeds for $1.50, and a good-sized bag of peanuts for just $2. Fans looking to satisfy their sweet tooth can buy various ice cream bars for between $1 and $3 – the variety is quite extensive. Drinks include Gatorade for $2.50, water for $1, soda for $2.50, and coffee or hot chocolate for $1. Both cash and credit cards are accepted.
If these were the only options, Bing Crosby Stadium would earn an average score in this category. However, the Cardinals partner with C&C Frozen Treats, a local ice cream company, which sells homemade ice cream and Italian Ice out of a truck on the concourse. The flavors are extensive and the ice cream is amazing. Prices range from $5 to $9 depending on the size, and you can get your ice cream in a Cardinals helmet for $3 extra.
Entering Bing Crosby Stadium is like taking a step back in time. Once you purchase your tickets at the window, you will walk through a gate onto a spacious concourse. The concession stand will be right in front of you, and you can walk to either side to find restrooms and a ramp which will take you up to the seating bowl. Most of the seats are in a covered grandstand that you see at many historic ballparks – there are reserved chairbacks behind home plate and ledge seats on either side. There are some conventional bleachers further down the lines that are not undercover. All seats offer a great view of the action, although it will be through a net. There is a scoreboard in left-centerfield which shows the linescore and other basic information. There are train tracks beyond the outfield fence and trains can be heard passing and blowing their horn throughout the night.
The Cardinals play music over the PA system during breaks in the action and have separate walk-up music for each batter, but beyond that there isn’t a lot going on here. No between-inning contests, nothing really to keep fans engaged beyond the game and a 50/50 raffle. That is OK though – the game is enough, it is why many fans are here.
Front Royal is a small town in the Shenandoah Valley, but that does not mean there is nothing to do here. Still, you won’t find nearly the same variety you’d get an hour to the east in the D.C. suburbs. L’Dees Pancake House is a local favorite for breakfast but closes at 2 PM (1 PM on Sundays), so is not an option for fans coming in for a night game. Castiglia’s is an Italian restaurant that is quite popular as well. There are a few hotel options, but most of them are your basic motels. The nicest option is probably a Hampton Inn just off I-66 a few miles from the stadium. Most of the nicer options are closer to the highway; as you get closer to the ballpark, the only options are motels.
There are a lot of scenic options in the Front Royal area as well, including Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, and Skyline Caverns. Front Royal is also known as the Canoe Capital of Virginia, and many locals enjoy canoeing on the Shenandoah River.
The Front Royal Cardinals draw reasonably well for the Valley League at several hundred fans a game. Of course, like at all ballparks, some nights will draw better than others – a gorgeous Saturday night will draw better than if the weather is iffy or if it’s a mid-week game, but all in all, the fans do show up. Not only that, they are loud and passionate. Part of this may be due to the covered grandstand trapping crowd noise, but this seems like the loudest ballpark in the league. When the Cardinals make a big play, or even when the lineup is introduced at the start of the game, the crowd can get very into it, much more so than at other stadiums in the league. While the Cardinals don’t lead the Valley League in attendance, they do lead the league in crowd passion and energy.
Front Royal is located in the Shenandoah Valley, about 90 minutes west of Washington, D.C. via I-66. Coming from the east (such as from DC), take Exit 13 off the interstate. Coming from the west (such as if coming from the I-81 corridor), take Exit 6. Either way, the stadium will be a few miles away via local roads. There is a small lot right next to the stadium, and many fans park on the grass nearby as well – just look for the other cars if you’re unsure what grass you can park on and what grass you can’t. There is also ample parking throughout the rest of Miller Park as well if the lot is full and you actually want to park on pavement. Just be prepared to walk a bit.
The good news is the parking’s free and the stadium is fairly close to the highway, but the bad news is it’s in the middle of nowhere and far from any major population center.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets are just $5 for adults, $3 for children 6-12 and seniors 60+, and free for children under six. Reserved chairbacks behind home plate cost $5 extra. However, all seats offer a great view of the action so unless having a chairback is important to you, there is no need to splurge on these reserved seats. Throw in the incredibly affordable concessions and free parking, and it’s entirely possible to bring a family of four to the game and feed them for under $40 total. This is truly a great deal.
A merchandise table is next to the entrance selling Cardinals merchandise at very affordable prices. There is also a marquee hanging above the concourse honoring Bing Crosby’s first performance. There are game programs available at the merchandise table, which are basic but free. One final star for all the staff at Bing Crosby Park who are incredibly helpful and polite. Everyone from the ticket seller to the merchandise stand worker to the employees at the concession stands is absolutely incredible.
Bing Crosby Stadium is a historic baseball ballpark located in the scenic Shenandoah Valley. This gorgeous venue boasts some of the greatest fans in the Valley League. While the stadium doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of more modern stadiums, that just adds to the charm. On a summer night in the Valley, be sure to check out a Front Royal Cardinals game at Bing Crosby Stadium.