Photos by Bart Wilhelm, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
Hamlin Sports Complex 1544 5th Street Springfield, OR 97477
Year Opened: 2022 Capacity: 2,500
Drifters in Springfield
In 2022, the summer collegiate West Coast League expanded into Springfield, Oregon. The new team was named the Springfield Drifters, in honor of the “slow-drifting lifestyle” of the town and the nearby Willamette River. Springfield, Oregon has long been believed to be the Springfield featured in the TV series, “The Simpsons.” A brand new baseball facility was built for the club and is also being used by Bushnell College, who revived their baseball program after a 50-year hiatus.
Food & Beverage 4
Hamlin Sports Complex is a bit unique because all of their food is supplied by food trucks. Down the left field line are two trucks, Blessed Mess BBQ and Bea’s Ice Cream. Both trucks are contracted through the 2022 season. In the future, the truck options could change.
Blessed Mess features burgers, walking tacos, and various Grab and Go sandwiches. While they’re a bit pricey (1/4 smash burgers start at $10 with an upcharge to add pork, brisket, or sausage, and walking tacos with meat start at $15), the flavor is very good. They also feature a Grab and Go station by the right field patio.
Bea’s truck has all your dessert needs. They have a few different flavors of ice cream at $5/scoop, and several funnel cake options starting at $8.
There are also three permanent beverage stands, one down each baseline and one behind home plate. All three feature similar products. 16-ounce cans of Coors Light and Pabst Blue Ribbon can be found for $6. 19-ounce cans of Sisters Hard Seltzer are $8 and various Oregon craft beers are $9 for draft and $10 for cans. Hard cider and wine are also available. Bottle of Pepsi products and Gatorade are $5 each.
Hamlin is a brand new facility that opened in 2022. It definitely has a new-stadium feel to it. Everything is in great shape and the (artificial) field turf looks immaculate. I’m told that they bought the best turf available and it shows. The entire field is turf including the base paths and the warning tracks.
The park has an official capacity of 2,500. There are about 750 permanent chairback seats that extend from home plate to both dugouts. Beyond those are metal bleachers on both sides, followed by patio areas where there is ample room to stand if you’d like.
The stadium dimensions are 330 feet down both lines and 375 feet to straightaway center field, and the wall is a consistent 12 feet high. The stadium’s lone scoreboard is above the right-centerfield fence. While new, it’s a simple scoreboard that only gives the score, the count, and the runs/hits/errors. No video or player information.
The team mascot is a dog named “Rapid.” He’s dressed in a fishing jacket as if he’s ready to spend a day at the lake.
The complex is built next to a middle school. There is a high school baseball field and a track on both sides of Hamlin. There’s nothing else in the immediate walking area. Downtown Springfield is about a mile away. There are plenty of local restaurants downtown. I opted for some clam chowder and a couple pints at The Public House, a converted church that’s now a pub.
There are several motels and hotels in the Springfield/Eugene area (Eugene, home of the University of Oregon, is only a few miles away and is part of the same metropolitan area), but the prices can be very steep. On weekends, the cheapest motel can run almost $200. During the week it’s still around $80. I actually decided to drive an hour north to Salem because I was headed that way the next day and the motel prices were much more reasonable.
Since the team is just starting out, the fan base hasn’t been totally established yet. There’s also the tricky situation of the Eugene Emeralds minor league team being less than ten minutes away. On nights when the Ems are in town, the Drifters’ attendance goes way down. The Emeralds are in danger of losing their team, though, due to stadium upgrade necessities. If they’re forced to leave, that would obviously help Springfield a great deal.
On the night I was there, there were about 200 people in attendance, but they were a loud bunch who stayed to the end. I found a spot on the right field patio and stood around with a bunch of locals who told me all about the local bars and breweries.
The park is fairly easy to get to. It’s not very far off of I-5 or the I-105 spur. The actual address of the park is 1544 5th Street. The parking lot entrance is off of Centennial Blvd. There’s plenty of free parking on site.
If you’re staying locally, there is a bus stop at the corner of Centennial and Pioneer Parkway.
There are two gates, one behind home plate and one by the left field foul pole. Both gates have a ticket booth. Gates open an hour before the games start.
Currently there are no permanent restrooms. There are about a dozen porta-potties throughout the park. A player’s clubhouse is under construction and when it’s done (2023), there should be regular bathrooms.
Return on Investment 3
At $6 for general admission, the park is very affordable to enter. Metal bleachers are $10 and the nicer chairback seats are $12. Beer prices are on par with other stadiums. The food is quite expensive though. That’s the downside to bringing in food trucks. Good quality, but you pay for it. But if you just need a quality hot dog, you can find one for $4.
One point goes to the new stadium. Most parks in summer collegiate leagues are older parks that are repurposed for a new team. This one was actually built for the team.
One point goes to the friendly staff. I asked a lot of questions, and everyone from the beer lady to the ushers to the owner and GM were all very friendly and helpful.
Hamlin Sports Complex is one of the nicest stadiums I have seen in the West Coast League. It definitely feels like a real baseball park and not just a community field that they’re using for a summer league. It’ll be interesting to see how their popularity grows if the Eugene Emeralds are forced to move elsewhere.