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  • Bart Wilhelm

Bismarck Municipal Ballpark – Bismarck Larks


Photos by Bart Wilhelm, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Bismarck Municipal Ballpark 303 W Front Ave Bismarck, ND 58504

Year Opened: 1921 Capacity: 1,900

 

Bismarck Baseball

Celebrating the team’s fifth anniversary in 2021, the Bismarck Larks of the summer collegiate Northwoods League have brought baseball back to Bismarck Municipal Ballpark, a stadium with over a hundred years of baseball tradition. The park was built in 1921 and has housed various minor league teams over the years including the Bismarck Capitals, the Churchills (who featured Satchel Paige), the Barons, and the Bismarck-Mandan Pards. There has also been an American Legion team known as the Governors that have played at Municipal Park since 1928.

The park was renovated in 1992, and then again in 2014. The Larks took residence in 2017. The stadium officially has a capacity of 1,900, but with the right field pavilion, many more fans can be accommodated.

Food & Beverage 3

Municipal Ballpark offers most of your usual ballpark fare, but nothing too out of the ordinary. The main concession stand is right behind home plate and offers Cloverdale hot dogs for $3.50 (50 cents more for a quarter pound…go for it), bratwurst for $5, pulled pork sandwiches, and cheeseburgers run $6.25 with bacon an option for 75 cents more. The big ticket item is the Helmet Nachos: chips, pulled pork, salsa, sour cream, and cheese sauce served in a batting helmet for $14. Popcorn, pretzels, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and nachos with cheese are also available in the $4-$5 range.

Beer is available in draft form (Bud Light, Michelob Ultra are 16oz for $6 while Mango Cart and Laughing Sun Strawberry Wheat are $7) and cans (Bud, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Five Tool Ale, plus Bud Light Seltzers and Lemonade are $5.50-$7 for 12-16oz sizes). There is also wine available for $5.50 or $10 in a wine slushy form. Budweiser Zero is a non-alcoholic option as well.

By the first base lawn area, there are several draft beers from Laughing Sun Brewery in Bismarck. On the night I was there, they had an IPA, a Red Sour, a Golden Ale, and a Belgian Style Ale. $7 for a pint but the beer is well worth it.

There is a Sweet Spot stand right in the main seating area just to the left of home plate. Their specialties are mini donuts and ice cream. $5 will get you a half dozen mini donuts with a mini batting helmet or 3 scoops of ice cream in a bowl. Dippin’ Dots, cotton candy, and chocolate chip cookies are also found here. They have milkshakes, too, but they’re a bit pricey at $8.

Atmosphere 4

I attended the game on opening night, so there may have been more fans than usual, but the fans really showed up. A very full crowd and both group pavilions were packed. It definitely felt like Municipal Ballpark was the place to be in Bismarck that night.

While the stadium itself is a hundred years old, it has been upgraded a couple of times. There is a covered concourse behind home plate. These are box seats that have back rests and cup holders. The box seats extend to the dugouts on both sides. These are $19. A little beyond the covered grandstand, and behind the extended box seats, metal bleachers are $14. For $36, you can get a tailgate ticket that offers a premium ballpark buffet, group style seating, and three voucher tabs that are redeemable for beer, wine, a Larks hat, or the YMCA Family Fun Zone.

The field is all grass. The outfield wall is 320 feet to left, 380 to center, and 333 down the right field line. The right field fence has ivy growing on it. Trains pass by right behind the left field fence.

The scoreboard is very standard. Runs, hits, errors, scores, and batter numbers are displayed. No video.

There are a couple of on-field promotions in-between innings, but the unique thing I saw was kids got to run across the outfield during the 7th inning stretch. Not sure if that’s an every game thing or if it’s just because it was opening night.

Neighborhood 3

The ballpark is on the edge of a residential area. There is a Kiwanis Park across the street with playground equipment for kids to play on. Within a mile are several chain restaurants (McDonald’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Taco Bell, Perkins). Downtown Bismarck is about a mile to the west and the State Capitol building is about a mile and a half to the north.

For a good beer with a quality food menu, I’d recommend Stone Home Brewing near the Capitol. Very good beer and the pork belly tacos are top notch. I am told that The Walrus Restaurant on 3rd Street is very good.

Other sports teams in the city include the Bismarck Bucks (Champions Indoor Football league) and the Bismarck Bobcats (North American Hockey League).

There are plenty of hotels and motels in the city, although they’re not necessarily within walking distance. I’ve stayed in Bismarck a few times in the last couple of years and America’s Best Value Inn near the Capitol always seems to be the most affordable option.

Fans 4

I’ve been to Municipal Ballpark twice and both times, the fans showed up in bunches. They really support their team, probably because they’re the biggest team going in the state of North Dakota. Lots of people wear Larks jerseys and many more wear their t-shirts.

The line to get in the park on opening night stretched half a block away. The crowd was given plenty to cheer about as their Larks scored 10 runs in the victory.

Access 3

The ballpark is fairly easy to get to; a mile or so off of I-94 and a block off of Business I-94. The physical address of the stadium is 303 W Front Ave. If you’re using Apple Maps, type in the ballpark name, not the team name, or else you’ll wind up at the team offices at a different location.

Parking is free. There is an adjacent lot and there is plenty of street parking in case you want to be a little further away.

Bismarck Airport is about 4 miles away. I didn’t see any public transportation other than Uber.

Inside the park, there are ramps up to the main concourse and the bathrooms are handicap accessible.

Return on Investment 3

The price of the tickets is a bit steep. $14 for a “get in the door” ticket at a summer collegiate game seems a bit much, but apparently, the fans are okay with it. Food and beverage prices are average to slightly above average on par with the rest of the Northwoods League.

Free programs with scorecards are available at the gate.

Extras 3

One point for the free programs and scorecard. This is rare in summer collegiate leagues.

One point for the “Lion King” reenactment before each game for one lucky baby. Several Larks players gather around in a circle and “bless” the baby as seen in “The Lion King.” Summer collegiate players have to know when they sign up for summer leagues that they’re going to have to be willing to participate in fun, quirky things like this.

One point for the fans. The fans really show up and support their team. Bismarck is hundreds of miles outside of the footprint of the rest of the league, so it had to be worth it for the league to put a team in Bismarck. The fans are easily some of the most supportive in the league.

Final Thoughts

Bismarck, North Dakota is not necessarily a city that people would think of as being a hot bed for baseball. It’s not really near anything else. The Larks have made it a ballpark worth visiting and a very enjoyable fan experience.

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