First National Bank Field – Greensboro Grasshoppers
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
First National Bank Field 408 Bellemeade St Greensboro, NC 27401
Year Opened: 2005 Capacity: 7,449
Gate City Grasshoppers
First National Bank Field was built in 2005 to replace the aging World War Memorial Stadium, which had been used by various Greensboro teams since 1930. The ballpark was built to AA standards and is expandable in hopes that a higher level-league came calling. While that promotion did not happen, the Grasshoppers are currently happily situated in High-A East alongside local rivals in Winston-Salem, Hickory and Asheville.
Minor League baseball has been played in Greensboro since 1902. Before rebranding as the Grasshoppers to coincide with the opening of First National Bank Field in 2005, teams were known as the Farmers, Champs, Patriots, Red Sox, Yankees, Hornets and Bats. Teams representing Greensboro have won four championships, including one as the Grasshoppers.
Food & Beverage 3
Concessions at First National Bank Field are served primarily from three large stands scattered throughout the ballpark. With locally themed names like General Greene’s Grill, Cornwallis’ Last Stand and O. Henry’s Corner, you might expect an imaginative menu, but the choices here don’t stray too far from typical ballpark fare.
Outside of your typical offerings, there’s not a whole lot to set these concessions apart from the pack. Fans looking to stray from the usual can select a BBQ or pulled chicken sandwich, a corn dog, or you can add some pulled pork or chicken to your nachos. Any item can be made into a combo meal with the addition of a bag of chips and a soda for a $3.50 charge.
Most of your typical offerings do get an upgrade (for an additional charge, of course). The plain “Yogi Dog” becomes a “Carolina Dog” with the addition of chili, cole slaw and onions. Add lettuce and tomato to a burger to make it a “Babe Burger.” Add curly fries to chicken tenders to create a Rollie “chicken” Fingers Basket (OK, this one I like).
The Hopping Hound Dogs cart offers specialty hot dogs and sausages, including the “Connie Mack Attack,” the “This Dog Willie Mays You” and the “Catfish Hunter Carolina Dog.”
Pepsi products are featured at First National Bank Field. The craft beer game doesn’t seem as prominent here as in other minor league parks, but you can find brews from Appalachian Mountain Brewing sold here. The party decks in both left and right field were absolutely packed during Stadium Journey’s visit.
If you’re looking for a crowd that sits back quietly and just watches the game, don’t go to Greensboro. There’s a lot of activity going on at First National Bank Field. The party decks are packed, as are the berms and play area. There’s a buzz going on here that goes far beyond the action on the field.
Fireworks are shot off after every Grasshopper home run. The team’s mascot, named Guilford after the county that Greensboro is located in, roams the crowd and participates in the many between-inning contests. Chances are good that you’ll come home with a t-shirt or coupons for hamburgers, breakfast biscuit or ice cream.
First National Bank Field is located in Center City Greensboro, near the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. The ballpark highlights a mixed-use area, with several hotels and residential complexes ringing the field. Several apartments line North Eugene Street, overlooking the field and in repeated danger of having windows broken by home runs.
Fans won’t find too many dining options within walking distance of the ballpark, but downtown Greensboro has no shortage of places to check out. Highlighting the options adjacent to the ballpark is Joymongers Brewing Company. Fans looking for a place to stay during their visit can do worse than the Hyatt Place that overlooks right field. History buffs should be sure to visit the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, which is located at the spot of the famous 1960 sit-in at the Woolworth’s Diner by four college students in 1960. The diner where the sit-in took place has been preserved exactly as it was at the time of the protest.
With a population of nearly 300,000 people, Greensboro has a large base from which the Grasshoppers can draw. And draw they do, annually averaging just under 5,000 fans per game, which ranks them near the top of all Single-A teams nationwide.
As mentioned earlier, the fans in Greensboro are into the game and supportive of the Grasshoppers. There is a great deal of activity at First National Bank Field, and the fans are a big part of the atmosphere here. As is the case in most minor league ballparks, the game day experience is focused on keeping the casual and younger fans in attendance involved in the game. On both counts, the Grasshopper staff succeed.
Fans who have not visited First National Bank Field in some time will notice a big change in the appearance of the ballpark. At the corner of Bellemeade and Eugene Streets, where the ballpark’s entry plaza was located, there is now a nine-story office building connected to the ballpark. The plan is to fill out the ground floor with shops and restaurants while renting the other floors with various businesses. Each floor is equipped with porches that overlook the field, giving great views of the interior of the ballpark during games. Unfortunately, the building of this tower has deprived the ballpark of its front door, as the statue of Guilford, the giant concrete baseballs and the fountains were removed in the construction of the tower.
The main entrance to First National Bank Stadium is located halfway up Bellemeade Street. With the box office located down the hill at the corner of Bellemeade and North Edgewood Streets, it’s not the most convenient setup. Fans will enter the ballpark on the first base side of the field right next to the large team store.
The ballpark features a standard ‘00s design, with an open concourse that wraps most of the way around the field atop the seating bowl. The field is visible from all spots on the concourse. All seats are folding green plastic folding stadium seats. There is a large berm in left field and a smaller one in the right field corner in front of the kids’ play area. Fans cannot navigate completely around the field, but the concourse stretches from the right field foul line around to deep left-center field.
Plenty of parking is available within a block of the ballpark in some surface lots and a large parking garage across the street from the main entrance. There is on-street parking available for fans who are willing to search for it. Rest rooms are clean and large enough for the typical Grasshoppers crowd, and lines at concessions stands are not too long. The biggest crowds can be found in the left field party deck.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets to Grasshopper games are very affordable. Premium seats (sections 105-110 behind home plate) are priced at only $12, with all other box seats priced at $11. Seats in the Grandstand Bar and the Lawn Section cost only $8. Purchasing tickets online incurs a $1.50 surcharge.
All tickets are digital at First National Bank Field, even when you purchase them at gametime at the box office. You will give the representative your phone number and instantly receive a text which contains a link to your tickets, which you can present for scanning at the gates. So modern, so simple!
Parking in the lots and garages around the ballpark costs five dollars. There is some on-street parking in the neighborhood for those who wish to search around for it. With affordable concessions, a Grasshoppers game is an affordable entertainment option for Triad-area sports fans.
The Grasshoppers honor Greensboro’s long baseball history with a series of banners that hang along the concourse. Each banner recaps a decade’s worth of teams, players and notable events that occurred during that time period.
There is some baseball-related artwork in the entry plaza to brighten things up on your arrival to First National Bank Park. In addition to the giant baseball glove and bat adorned with the Grasshoppers logo, there is a photo of the team’s beloved bat dog, Miss Lou Lou Gehrig, who passed away in 2020, hanging near the entrance. A statue of former mayor Jim Melvin, who was instrumental in the construction of the ballpark, is located near the kids play area. There is a nicely done mural on the wall of the secondary entrance to the ballpark.
While First National Bank Field doesn’t break the mold in terms of design, it’s a nice downtown ballpark with enthusiastic fans and a great atmosphere. In a state filled with some of the best minor league parks in the country, a trip to Greensboro is a worthy Stadium Journey.