Foundation Field - Hamilton Joes
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
Foundation Field 1140 River Street Hamilton, OH 45011
Year Opened: 2002
Not Your Average Joes
“We haven’t had a review of the ballpark in years,” says Hamilton Joes President/GM Darrel Grissom as he squeegees the water off the main grandstand that was just doused with a quick shower from a thunderstorm.
The last time Foundation Field had a review was in 2003 when the Florence Freedom of the Frontier League used it as a temporary stadium while its ballpark was under construction 40 miles south in Kentucky. I had attended a game that summer but don’t remember too much of that initial visit. Grissom added that there were a set of temporary bleachers down each line that increased capacity to 3,000 for games.
“They had a set of long bleachers that were somewhat uneven; they are gone and the ballpark is much better these days.”
Foundation Field is now a 600-capacity ballpark that fits perfectly in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League and for the past eleven seasons has been the home of the Hamilton Joes. The team’s nickname is in honor of hometown hero Joe Nuxhall who became the youngest pitcher in Major League Baseball with the Cincinnati Reds at 15 and later served as team broadcaster until he died in 2007.
The ballpark was constructed in 2002 and originally built for the Miami University Hamilton baseball program. The Joes take over during June and July and have brought home two league championships in 2010 and 2016. The not-for-profit organization has and, according to its website, has placed over 30 players in professional baseball since 2009.
Food & Beverage 3
The concession stand at the ballpark has a menu consisting of grilled hot dogs, burgers, metts, and brats from $2 to $4.50. A mett is a popular sausage served in the Cincinnati area and found at other ballparks in the area, it’s a nice alternative at the game. Nachos and soft pretzels are $3 each and soda pop sells for $2.50. The concession window features a small bell that reads: Ring for Beer. The beer sold at the game is either Coors Light or Miller Lite and costs $5 a tall can.
There is a small-town atmosphere that is somewhat welcoming these days at a baseball stadium. Foundation Field is a very basic facility but it attracts nice crowds of fans who support the Joes each summer. The main grandstand houses the majority of the seating and features a press box on the top along with championship banners. Many in this section bring a seat cushion for the aluminum bleacher-style seating.
There are small wooden bleachers scattered down both baselines but most fans enjoy the game from the lawn seats brought into the game. The backdrop of the stadium is residential homes and the steeple of St. Joseph’s church, where the gold cross shines during night games.
The concession and merchandise table is a hub of activity behind the visiting dugout on the first base side where fans pick up shirts and hot dogs from the same place. The sausages and burgers are cooked up on the grill a few feet away. You will also find fans watching the game from their seating in this area that is rather close to home plate. Netting is set up to protect fans from foul balls or a thrown bat.
Several promotions are not too over the top and announcements are not deafening loud or obnoxious. The public address announcer will stand in front of the crowd while they play guess the name of a song or find items on hand to win vouchers to local area restaurants.
It is a very relaxed atmosphere with all the basic amenities offered to the fans. If you like your baseball without the in-your-face promotions, a Hamilton Joes game might be a nice alternative.
Hamilton is about 30 minutes north of Cincinnati and offers a few attractions that include Pyramid Hill Sculpture Park & Museum, Municipal Brew Works, Hanover Winery, and Butler County Courthouse. Miami University is just a few miles north in Oxford offering a charming little college town.
Jungle Jim’s International Market is 6 miles south of the ballpark in Fairfield and it’s the Disneyland of supermarkets featuring departments of international foods, craft beers, wine, cheeses, produce, and exotic meats. You can also find regional foods not normally found in the Midwest. There is even a bar where fans can shop while enjoying a pint of beer.
Joes games average around 400 a game but a thunderstorm right before the game this evening distracted fans from the game. However, the roughly 100 people in attendance provided the building a nice atmosphere and there are more than just friends and family of the players on the field. Boos and jeers are evident during a play at third that resulted in the Joes coach getting tossed from the game.
Foundation Field is located along the Greater Miami River near SR-127. The two nearest interstates I-275 and I-75 are 7.5 miles and 12 miles away from the ballpark. Inside the stadium, there is one main grandstand that features a ramp and both bathrooms and concession areas are located down the first baseline.
Return on Investment 3
All tickets to the game are $5 a person, the same price for a beer and three dollars more for a hot dog. The prices are affordable for this level of baseball and the small town atmosphere is very strong throughout the nine innings of play. There is a small parking lot that is free of charge.
The ballpark earns a point for the beer batter that for two times during the game resulted in a dollar off beers. The second point is that all customers have a choice to bring in lawn chairs and even sit underneath various tents. The last point is for the nice array of team merchandise from soft tees with creative designs to ball caps that range from $15 to $20.
Foundation Field offers a small-town ballpark experience and is dedicated to anyone enjoying baseball at its purest form. The Great Lakes League houses many of these types of small ballparks and the Hamilton Joes have a nice little operation taking place just north of Cincinnati.
Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel.