Five County Stadium – Carolina Mudcats
Photos by Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Five County Stadium 1501 NC Hwy 39 Zebulon, NC 27597
Year Opened: 1991 Capacity: 6,500
Five Counties of Baseball
The Carolina Mudcats arrived in Zebulon, North Carolina from Columbus, Georgia in 1991 as a Minor League Baseball team in the Double-A Southern League. Named in reference to the famous catfish of the Carolinas, the team played its home games at Five County Stadium in the suburb east of Raleigh. After the 2011 season, the original Mudcats relocated to Pensacola, Florida to become the Pensacola Blue Wahoos but a new Mudcats franchise, in the Carolina League, arrived in Zebulon from Kinston, North Carolina.
The Mudcats continued to play in the Carolina League until the 2020 contraction and realignment throughout Minor League Baseball, when they joined the Low-A East League, a partial successor to the Carolina and South Atlantic Leagues. The Mudcats have been an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers since 2017, and despite being located nowhere near Milwaukee, have made an effort in recent years to promote that affiliation with the parent club, even playing occasional games in their alternate identity, the Micro Brews.
Food & Beverage 4
Five County Stadium has many of your typical concession items, including hamburgers, hot dogs, and all the other things you would expect to get at a ballpark. North Carolina barbecue is also available, a chance to sample a local specialty. For those with a sweet tooth, ice cream is available, including in a Mudcats helmet. Beer and soft drinks are of course available as well. Prices are a bit high but not too unreasonable here. Although the Mudcats don’t have a real specialty item beyond the ubiquitous barbecue, there is enough food here to satisfy anyone.
Walking into Five County Stadium will put you on a concourse, most of which offers a view of the field. From there, a few rows of seats are situated below you, but most fans will have to walk up steps to the second level of seating. Sections 101-106 below the concourse are the only seats in the shade during day games, and the rest of the stadium can get extremely hot on a summer afternoon. Buy your tickets accordingly. There is a large videoboard in left-centerfield as well as a smaller board in right-center which just shows the line score and some graphics. All seats offer an excellent view of the field, the only downside of many of them is the heat.
The Mudcats do a good job during the game with between inning contests, t-shirt tosses, and the like. It manages to keep people engaged without distracting from the game itself, which is an important balance to strike. The Mudcats’ mascot is a catfish named Muddy, who will appear on the field and concourse before and during the game.
The area around Five County Stadium is not built up at all, and there is almost nothing in the immediate vicinity of the stadium. If you head a bit down Route 97, you will find a couple options such as The Lick, a popular sports bar, and a couple of chain places, but there really isn’t much here. There was an ad in the stadium encouraging fans to move into a soon-to-be-built development near the stadium and “Be Muddy’s Neighbor” so hopefully this encourages some businesses to come to the area as well. For now, you’re just about out of luck unless you want to drive half an hour to Raleigh. The Mudcats needed to build their stadium out here to avoid encroaching on the Durham Bulls’ territorial rights, but it really is in the middle of nowhere.
The Mudcats get your typical minor league crowd consisting of a mix of long-time fans, groups, and young families, and they will stay somewhat engaged throughout the game. While you won’t find the large, passionate crowds you will see at many other minor league venues in the Carolinas, Mudcats fans are no slouches and they do draw decently. However, given its rather remote location and the large number of other minor league ballparks in the area, it is hard for the Mudcats to draw too much here.
Five County Stadium is located just off U.S. Route 264, at the intersection of North Carolina Route 39 and U.S. Route 264 Alternate. There are two very large gravel lots at the stadium which are more than sufficient for the crowds attending. Parking is $5, and only cash is accepted so come prepared. The large size of the parking lot does mean you may have to walk a bit to get to the stadium gates, particularly if you arrive close to game time and the lot has begun to fill up.
Once you’re in the stadium, it’s easy enough to get around. The concourse is more than wide enough for the crowds and offers a good view of the field while you’re waiting for concessions or just trying to hang out in the shade due to the intense heat. Restrooms are of a more than sufficient size for the crowd as well.
Being so far from everything else in the area does take this rating down a notch, but once you get close to the stadium, the rest of it is easy.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets start at $10 for seats far down the foul lines and the most expensive seats, in Sections 101-106 (the lower shade sections) are only $14. There is a $5 charge for parking, but that’s a typical price for minor league stadiums in this part of the country. Concession prices are higher than average but not outrageous. While a Mudcats game can be a good value for the family, there are multiple other minor league parks in this area that offer a better value than Five County Stadium. If this were the only game in town, it would be well worth it, but unless you live right in Zebulon, your money would likely be better spent at another minor league park nearby.
There is a team store located on the concourse which sells Mudcats gear, including for their alternate Micro Brews identity in Brewers’ colors. Free programs are available and handed out when you come in.
It seems like in North Carolina, there is a baseball stadium just about everywhere you look. Between all the minor league ones and parks at the summer collegiate level in the Appalachian and Coastal Plain leagues, there are many options for the baseball fan to choose from. Compared to many of those stadiums, Five County Stadium disappoints. Although it isn’t a terrible stadium by any means, it’s nowhere near as good as many other stadiums in the area, including in nearby Durham. For fans who find themselves already in Zebulon, a visit to Five County Stadium is well worth it. However, for fans who are trying to visit multiple baseball stadiums in North Carolina and have limited time, there are better options available.