Photos by Bart Wilhelm and Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
ISG Field 601 Reed St Mankato, MN 56001
Year Opened: 1961 (renovated 2018) Capacity: 1,500
Everyone’s Gone to the MoonDogs
Playing their home games in the city of Mankato in south-central Minnesota, the Mankato MoonDogs are a summer collegiate baseball team in the Northwoods League. The MoonDogs play their home games at ISG Field, which has been home to several different teams since opening in 1961, ranging from minor league to high school to its current summer collegiate tenant.
It was originally known as Key City Park, was renamed after local sportswriter Franklin Rogers in 1977, and was renamed again in 2021 thanks to a naming rights deal with local business ISG. In addition to the MoonDogs, it hosts numerous high school games as well as Bethany Lutheran College, a Division III school.
Food & Beverage 4
There are several different concession stands at ISG Field. The main one is located right in front of the entrance and offers a wide range of options. Main meals include hot dogs ($3), brats ($4), hamburgers ($6, extra 50 cents for cheese plus another dollar for bacon), veggie burgers ($6), and veggie cheeseburgers ($6.50), and grilled chicken sandwiches for $6. French fries are $3, chicken strips are $5, mini donuts are $5, and local favorite fried cheese curds are $7. Chips are $1.50, while soda, water, Gatorade, and energy drinks are available for between $2.50 and $3.50.
There are several additional stands further up the right field line or on the berm in right field which sell snacks, nachos, tacos in a bag, and more. Beer is available at a table behind home plate for those of age. Just be sure to pick up a wristband first to prove you’re 21.
Although the players are in college and the league is only active for about two months a year, don’t let that fool you into thinking this isn’t a great stadium. It is divided into several different sections – reserved chairbacks behind home plate, bleachers further up the lines, berm seating in right field, suites beyond the right field fence, and The Dog Pound near third base, which comes with all-you-can-eat food and soft drinks. Every seat offers a great view of the game. There are scoreboards, a large one in right field which shows player stats and occasionally video, and a smaller one in left field which just shows the linescore and other basic information.
The MoonDogs put on a great show here. The PA announcer does a great job of engaging the crowd without being too over the top, there are between-innings contests during many breaks in the action, and a 50-50 raffle gives fans the chance to win a cash prize. The Moondogs have a dog mascot named Muttnik who can be seen on the field and roving the stands interacting with fans throughout the game. From the moment you walk into the stadium until the moment you leave, you will find a great atmosphere here in Mankato.
Mankato is a typical mid-sized Minnesota city. The Madison East Center shopping mall is a short drive or even a walk away from the stadium and offers many options for visitors to the area. Tav on the Ave is a nearby pub and local favorite as well as a sponsor of the team. There are plenty of other options nearby ranging from Mexican restaurants to taphouses to pizza and gyros. Ultimately what you’ll find here in Mankato is typical of other cities in the area. While it’s not the most exciting place to visit, you certainly won’t be bored here either, and it’s not like you’re in the middle of nowhere.
The MoonDogs draw very well to their home games, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights. In a stadium that officially seats 1,500, the crowd will often exceed that number and sometimes goes over 2,000. Fans will pack the grandstand, the bleachers, and the berm and cheer on their MoonDogs. You will occasionally get fans from visiting teams as well, particularly if it is a relatively close team like Rochester, but most of the fans are here to cheer on their beloved MoonDogs. If you are a fan of the visiting team, you can expect nothing worse than some good-natured joking, so that is not a problem, fortunately.
That being said, in addition to being large in numbers, MoonDogs fans are passionate, knowledgeable, and supportive of their team. You’ll hear them cheering throughout the game if the action on the field merits it. You will find a great crowd here at ISG Field and that’s one of the reasons the MoonDogs have been so successful over the years.
There are several roads into Mankato depending on where you are coming from, including State Route 60, US Route 14, and US Route 169. Although none of these are expressways, at least not for their whole length, you can usually make good time on them.
Once you get to the stadium, parking is available at a lot right outside it, but it fills up quickly, forcing fans to park on the street or the nearby shopping mall if they do not arrive early enough. The outer concourse behind the seating area is more than wide enough, but getting around the inner concourse between the 100 and 200 levels of the grandstand to get to your seat can be cramped and difficult, especially if kids are running around, which there usually are. If you are seated in the front rows of the 200 level, your view will often be blocked by fans walking by.
There are restrooms located down the first baseline, and there can occasionally be a bit of a line for them but nothing too outrageous. Getting from one seating area to another can also be complicated to those unfamiliar with the stadium, although it’s well-signed what is where.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets start at $8 for general admission bleachers seating, while seating in the grandstand is $10 for reserved seats. Dog Pound seating is $30 for adults and $15 for kids and comes with unlimited food and soft drinks plus three beer vouchers for those of age. If you don’t get the all-you-can-eat package, concessions are still somewhat affordable, although some items seem to be priced more affordably than others. All in all, a visit to a MoonDogs game won’t break the bank and is an affordable way to spend a warm summer night taking in a ballgame.
There is a team store at a table on the concourse which sells a wide selection of MoonDogs gear. Visitors should check out the banners on the concourse behind home plate with images of each year in MoonDogs history. There are programs for sale for $1 near the entrance. A fourth and final star for all the unique vantage points to watch a game from.
Like many Northwoods League stadiums, ISG Field is old, but it still has its charm. The MoonDogs promote a trip here as a “nine-inning vacation” and it certainly lives up to that billing. While other parts of the country cheer on their local minor league team, a trip to Mankato and ISG Field proves a summer collegiate game can be just as good an experience as a professional one, if not even better. Baseball fans visiting Minnesota in the summer should be sure to check out a MoonDogs game while they are in the area.