- Jared Goodman
Dickey-Stephens Park – Arkansas Travelers
Photos by Jared Goodman and Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
Dickey-Stephens Park 400 W Broadway North Little Rock, AR 72114
Year Opened: 2007
Just the Ticket: ‘Stream’-lined in Little Rock
The Arkansas Travelers, currently a Double-A franchise that’s affiliated with the Seattle Mariners, can trace their roots back to 1887, making them perhaps the most historic team in all of baseball. The Travs have played in a couple of different ballparks and leagues over the years and have been affiliated with several major league clubs; today, they are members of the Texas League circuit and call Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock home. The stadium, constructed in 2007 to replace the aging Ray Winder Field, is named after two Hall of Famers with the surname of Dickey and two Little Rock businessmen called Stephens. It cost about $40 million to build and holds about 7,200 fans.
Food & Beverage 5
The ballpark in North Little Rock has every concession item imaginable, and then some.
Among the offerings are hamburgers, salads, nachos, hot dogs, grilled chicken, cheesesteaks, fried bologna, bratwursts, peanuts, funnel cakes and popcorn, as well as a few barbecue options. There’s even an entire station dedicated to bacon – yes, bacon – where you get bacon added to any concession item; or, if you’re feeling in the mood, just order a “cup o bacon” for $6.
Most items clock in at less than $5 each, with a few exceptions. Nachos are the most expensive, ranging anywhere from $4-$10.
All that delicious food might make you thirsty. Good news: bottled water is just $2.75, while Coca-Cola soft drink products are only $4. There’s also plenty of alcohol options and fresh-squeezed lemonade is even available. It’s practically impossible to go hungry during a night out with the Travs…
Dickey-Stephens is designed to look like an early 20th-century train depot. This is overwhelmingly evident and adds lots of charm. From the red brick exterior to the clock tower to the vaulted ceilings, a trip to the ballpark feels like a step back in time. The left field scoreboard is strikingly similar to the scoreboard installed at Ray Winder Field, the team’s former home, and only adds to the railroad feel.
One of coolest things about the ballpark isn’t even a part of the venue itself: the Little Rock skyline rises behind the right field wall and provides a beautiful view throughout the game.
One thing to be aware of is the large swarms of insects and bats that show up at night. In this unintended “creature feature,” thousands of flying bugs take to the sky and surround the banks of lights that illuminate the field. They’re not noticeable unless you look directly up and they don’t bother any of the fans. The bats, meanwhile, play around in the sky above the parking lot that’s located next to their home under the Broadway Bridge. Neither the bats nor the bugs cause any kind of disturbance and they don’t mess around with humans – they’re simply just there.
While there isn’t a whole lot within close proximity to the stadium gates, there’s a few things to see and do in the general vicinity. Head a few blocks south over the Broadway Bridge and you’ll be in downtown Little Rock, a happening metropolitan city with a lively riverfront entertainment district. This district has all kinds of hubs of activity, including unique shops and restaurants.
Venture a bit further into Little Rock and you’ll come across three noteworthy attractions. The first is the Arkansas State Capitol building, which is close to a few state museums that are worth seeing. The second is the Clinton Presidential Library, a large complex that highlights the life and administration of Arkansas native and former President Bill Clinton. Finally, it may be worth a short trip to see Central High School, the site of a 1957 political crisis where nine black students were denied entrance to the school in defiance of a forced integration law. There’s a small Visitors Center near the still-active school.
It’s almost obvious that, with such a storied history in the Little Rock area, most folks are third or fourth generation Travelers fans. And while not all games are heavily attended, some do get busy and loud. For example, when their in-state rival from Northwest Arkansas pays a visit, you can expect the fans to pack the house – perhaps, even, they might sell it out.
The Little Rock region is served by two major interstates: I-30 and I-40. The former terminates in the capital city and connects central and southwest Arkansas with the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, about five hours west. I-40, on the other hand, runs coast to coast. Memphis is the next largest city on this highway headed east, about a two-hour drive; Fort Smith, and even further, Oklahoma City, lie down the road to the west.
The stadium is no more than a few minutes from either interstate. Depending on your approach, you may also access the park via I-630. Once there, you’ll find ample parking for $3 across the street from the main entrance. If that lot is full, there’s plenty of garage and street parking across the river in downtown for varying rates.
Once inside the ballpark, navigation is extremely easy. The concourse is very wide and open, and it circumnavigates the stadium so you can see the game from every angle. There’re ramps to make everything handicap-accessible and wide open picnic spaces for fans to sit down and enjoy their meals. The outfield berms are also a good spot to lay out and relax.
The nearest minor league teams to the Travelers are Triple-A Memphis and Texas League rival Northwest Arkansas. The Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals are the closest major league clubs.
Return on Investment 5
A solid dinner at the ballpark won’t break the bank, ticket prices are on-par with the rest of the minor leagues, and parking is extremely reasonable. For a family of four, a night out at Dickey-Stephens can’t run more than $90.
Included with your ticket is free admission to the Arkansas Travelers Baseball Museum, located on the main concourse. While it isn’t very big, this small room is chock-full of historical memorabilia as it relates to baseball in Little Rock.
One point for the unique tunnel that players use to get from their clubhouse to the field. This enables fans to uniquely interact with both teams before and after the game.
Another point goes to the organ player behind home plate. He keeps the crowd engaged and provides a nostalgic experience that isn’t common in the minor leagues.
The stunning railroad architecture and outfield skyline view warrant two final points.
Most people don’t think “grand” or “baseball” when they think of Arkansas, but Dickey-Stephens Park shatters all of these preconceived notions. The stadium is a true minor league gem that provides an amazing game day experience in a beautiful setting that draws folks back time and time again.