C.O. Brown Stadium – Battle Creek Battle Jacks
Photos by Steve Ohnsman, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.43
C.O. Brown Stadium 1392 Capital Ave. NE Battle Creek, MI 49017
Year Opened: 1990
Bombs Away in Battle Creek
Note: Since Stadium Journey's visit in 2019, the organization changed the name of the team from the Battle Creek Bombers to the Battle Creek Battle Jacks.
John W. Bailey Park, located on the north side of Battle Creek, Michigan, has a rather unique history. Local sources claim the park has been a home for baseball since 1895. It was home to the Stan Musial World Series for nearly 60 years and has been the host for other youth baseball organizations’ tournaments. The Battle Creek Belles played here in the early 1950’s as a member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. The park hosted Michigan high school semi-final and final rounds of both baseball and softball championships for many years.
In 1990, Cooper Orthniel “C. O.” Brown Stadium was constructed with an “old-school” feel to it with mostly bleacher-style seats. That year, they hosted the American Amateur Baseball Congress national championship. However, it was essentially dormant until 1995 when the Midwest League Michigan Battlecats moved in and called the stadium home for 8 years, followed by other Midwest League teams that included the Battle Creek Yankees (2003-2004)and the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays (2005-2006).
In 2007, the Battle Creek Bombers team was created as a member of the summer college wood bat Northwoods League. In 2016, a renovation reduced seating capacity from 4,000 to 2,300, added the now “Home Plate Club” featuring half-moon tables with four seats from Camden Yards and a special menu, along with the “Champions Club” which runs along the first and third base lines and offers food/beverage railing. Tarpaulins covered bleacher seats on the first base (sun field) side, A “Party Deck” in the left field corner offers service to groups.
After accepting the Democratic party nomination, Barack Obama and Joe Biden held a rally at the stadium, reportedly drawing 15,000 people.
Food & Beverage 3
Overall, the food and beverages offered here provide limited options. Fans must leave their seats and go down a ramp to the stand. No vendors to the seats.
On a Monday night, one concession stand on the third base side was open for general fans and another near the entrance served the Championship Club fans. Standard fare such as $3.50 hot dogs, $4 brats, $4.25 burgers and $4.75 pulled chicken sandwiches along with chips, popcorn, cotton candy, ice cream and Pepsi products for $3.50 to $5. Local brewer Territorial Brewing Company offers a few great beers, along with Blake’s Hard Cider, for $5 and $9.
Unless a fan goes for the $28 Champions Club option with all-you-can-eat food plus 3 vouchers for beer or wine, I’d recommend a restaurant in town.
The stadium was designed with an idea that it would be “old school” with many bleacher seats and an aluminum roof. Some fans will likely enjoy this as a return to the good old days, while others will miss modern aesthetics.
After entering the stadium, fans walk up a ramp to the seats which are all raised above the field. A few seats close to the field are fixed/molded plastic with metal arm supports; they are not very comfortable. No cup-holders are provided. Sight lines are very good except for the seats behind metal roof support pillars. Standing water under seats and along the narrow concourse should have been removed before the game started. We recommend seats behind home plate and third base; the first few rows of seats behind first have to deal with the setting sun.
The large scoreboard in left-center field provides only a basic line score; no video screens are offered. They have a good sound system. Standard on-field entertainment is provided between innings. A fun note: a little girl was supposed to run around the bases starting at home plate; instead, she ran to first and second, then turned back to first and home.
The playing field needs some work – the gray infield soil and poorly-edged grass lack appeal.
C.O. Brown Stadium is set in the middle of a large park, surrounded by several baseball and softball fields, two miles north of downtown and seven miles north of I-94. There are a few fast food restaurants within walking distance. Well rated restaurants include Kitchen Proper and Umami Ramen downtown and Hogzilla Barbecue south of town serves up some great que. Territorial Brewing Company is west of town, serving excellent craft beer and food.
Attractions include Binder Park Zoo south of I-94, the Kellogg Discovery Center near downtown, and the Leila Arboretum which includes the Fantasy Forest featuring fascinating wood carvings.
The best bet for quality lodging is to choose a hotel south of Battle Creek along I-94, such as the Fairfield Inn and Hampton Inn.
The Bombers’ average attendance is currently 795, just ahead of Thunder Bay with 792 at the bottom of the league. Typical of some college summer league teams, a few fans passionately support their team, but most are in groups or family/friends of the players.
Plan on driving 10 to 15 minutes from I-94 to the stadium via I-194 and Capitol Avenue. Plenty of free parking is available in adjacent grass/dirt lots. There is one ticket booth with the entrance to the right.
Physically challenged fans can use ramps to go up to the seats from the entrance. The concourse is relatively narrow but works for typical crowds. Older, functional bathrooms are at ground level.
Return on Investment 3
Box seats are $12 and bleach seats go for $8. A free program containing the team roster and schedule is handed out to arriving fans. Free parking is always appreciated. The food and beer prices are very reasonable. A small space houses team shirts, hats and paraphernalia.
One point for the fascinating history of the park and stadium.