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  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

Duncan Field - Hastings Sodbusters

Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Duncan Field 601 East South St Hastings, NE 68901

Year Opened: 1941 Capacity: 1,317


Historic Duncan Field

Built as a public works project in 1940 and dedicated in 1941, Duncan Field is known for its massive outfield dimensions and its iconic red brick outfield wall. The baseball field was originally called Pershing Field and was renamed Duncan Field in 1948 after Robert Duncan, an avid Hastings baseball fan.

Duncan Field was used by the class ‘D’ Nebraska State League (baseball) from 1956 – 1959. It hosted the American Legion National Baseball Championships in 1959, 1960, 1961, and 1969. Today, the field continues to host Legion baseball, Hastings College baseball, Hastings Senior High baseball, and Hastings St Cecilla football. 2018 sees a new tenant at Duncan Field – the Hastings Sodbusters of the Expedition League, a summer collegiate wood bat league.

The first ever Expedition League All Star Game was held in 2018 at Duncan Field. The stadium will host the 2019 and 2020 American Legion Central Plains Regionals (baseball), the first regionals in the state since 2004.

Watching a Sodbusters game at this classic venue is a family friendly, affordable way to spend a summer evening.

Food & Beverage 3

Standard ballpark food is available for Sodbusters games with the one main concession stand just to the right of the entrance down the first base line.

Offerings include hamburger, cheeseburger, hot dog, pulled pork sandwich, nachos, and pizza and are priced from $3 – $5 (quite affordable). Snacks consist of pretzels, cookies, candy bars, chips, seeds ($1 – $5). The concession stand is cash only.

Drinks are $2 (Pepsi, Gatorade, bottled water, tea/sweet tea, and bottled lemonade).

An adult beverage cart is to the left of the entrance that has Coors, Bud, Miller Lite, Michelob Ultra, Goose Island IPA, Goose Island 312, and Leinenkugel. It also serves mixed drinks such as vodka and lemonade, rum and Coke, whiskey or Jack Daniels and Coke, etc. All drinks are $5, cash only.

For most Sodbuster games, a small snack-only concession stand is open on the upper third base seating level and sells salty popcorn, chips, and other goodies.

Lines can, and do, form at the main concession stand so plan accordingly.

Atmosphere 3

Seating runs from a tad beyond first base to a bit beyond third base. The reserved seating (from dugout to dugout) has wonderfully, enormous amounts of leg room and are the standard green, fold down stadium seats. There’s absolutely no leg room in the general admission / bleacher sections nor are their backs on the bleachers. Spend the extra $2 and get a reserved seat.

The first base side gets the shade first during evening games.

A kid’s covered play area beyond the first base line contains an elaborate, colorful jungle gym. A bouncy house for the young ones to enjoy is past the third base line.

An electronic scoreboard is located in right-center field and provides basic game information: runs per inning, total runs, hits and errors, the balls, strikes, outs, and the # of the player at bat. Roster sheets are not provided.

A train track runs just past the stadium and freight trains can be heard rumbling by throughout the game (as well as the trains’ loud whistle).

The PA announcer does not articulate well; is difficult to understand what he’s trying to say; music is played while he’s talking which doesn’t help. “Noise” is broadcast/played after every pitch which is annoying to me but the crowd seems to like it.

The staff works hard providing the innocent, between-inning entertainment which includes matrimony game, dizzy bat race, trivia contest, and more.

Neighborhood 3

One of the great things about stadium journeying is the ability to visit many large and small towns across the country and the world that a traveler would not normally visit. Surrounded by corn fields, Hastings, NE is one of those small towns that provides an interesting mix of commerce and industry, restaurants and bars, and cultural and sports opportunities and it grows on you after spending some time there.

Downtown Hastings is only about a mile from Duncan Field. Spend a couple hours visiting the Hastings Museum, which includes a planetarium that offers a several shows daily. Did you know Hastings is the birthplace of Kool-Aid? Visit the Farmer’s Market, take in the latest film at the historic Rivoli Theatre, stroll downtown and tour many of the locally-owned shops, or hike/bike the paved trails at Heartwell Park and feed the ducks.

For delicious sandwiches, a Big Dally’s Deli is directly across the street from center field. Other recommended dining choices include Odyssey Downtown (casual and fine dining – considered the best dining experience in central Nebraska), Murphy’s Wagon Wheel (burgers, BBQ, and beer), and Bull Eye’s (a traditional bar that has good weekend breakfast choices). A most comfortable and welcoming brewery downtown is the First Street Brewing Company or stop by Steeple Brewing Co for other varieties of craft beer.

Several hotels are within a few miles of Duncan Field, though none within walking distance. They include Super 8 by Wyndham Hastings, C3 Hotel & Convention Center, Comfort Inn and a few more. Most of these run between $60 and $80 a night.

Fans 3

Locals are delighted there’s an additional form of entertainment in town. The Sodbusters are in the middle of the pack of attendance rankings in the Expedition League with an average of 641 fans per game during the 2018 season.

The fans are versed in the rules of the game and applaud at all the appropriate times. They appreciate good plays made by not only the Sodbusters but the visiting team as well.

The beer batter of the game (buy one; get one free Bud or Bud Light for the remainder of the inning if the identified batter gets a strike out) is an appreciated promotion.

Access 3

Hastings is a little over 100 miles west of Lincoln, NE. The town is surrounded by farmland so one will be making a pleasant drive through the Heartland of America on their way to Duncan Field if coming from out of town. Once in town, it’s quite easy to find Duncan Field as it sits just off County Road 6, south of Hastings College on Elm Ave.

Public transportation is not available for Sodbusters games. Uber, Lyft, and taxis are of service in the city. A small airport is in Hastings but no commercial flights arrive or depart from that air field.

A paved parking lot is adjacent to the stadium (no charge for parking) and there is plenty of free parking along the neighborhood streets.

The ticket booth is located down the first base line next to the only gate entrance.

Ramps and wheelchair accessible spaces are plentiful. The concourse is really the entrance plaza, a small walkway is in front of the seating area (and behind the grandstand where the restrooms are located).

Return on Investment 4

Tickets are $5 (student), $6 (general admission – bleachers), $8 (reserved – sections 101-102, 103-105), and $10 (premier – first three rows of 103-105 – right behind home plate). Concession prices are very affordable and parking is free.

The team provides various fireworks and theme nights throughout the season. Every Tuesday is $2 Tuesday with deals at the already inexpensive concession stand.

It’s a great affordable place to take the family, a date, or friends on a summer’s evening out.

Extras 3

Duncan Field has several unique and interesting points.

In addition to baseball, Hastings St Cecilla football is also played in the outfield (there’s a separate football-only scoreboard down the third base line).

The original brick outfield wall built in the 1940’s still looks fabulous. No advertisements and no separate batter’s eye is in place as the dark red brick does the trick. It provides that ‘old time baseball feel’ when attending a game at Duncan Field.

Kudo’s to the 2014 renovations and to all of those who donated to help keep this historic field state-of-the-art while maintaining its history.

Final Thoughts

If in town, I recommend conversation and a craft cold one at First Street Brewery, then head east a mile to Duncan Field and catch a Sodbusters baseball game for an enjoyable afternoon/evening out.

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