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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Kapco Park – Lakeshore Chinooks

Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Kapco Park 12800 N Lake Shore Dr. Mequon, WI 53097

Year Opened: 2012

Capacity: 3,000


Watching Baseball by the Lake

The Lakeshore Chinooks were a trendsetter in the Northwoods League, becoming the first franchise to play in a major metropolitan area and the first to share a modern venue with a university. Kapco Park is located on the campus of Concordia University of Wisconsin, just 20 miles north of downtown Milwaukee. Almost a decade later, the club has not looked back.

Kapco is a 3,000 seat facility that hits all the right notes from fan experience, game day promotions, concessions, and social areas that give the ballpark positive word of mouth from visitors in the area. Its location within a few yards of Lake Michigan is also a nice touch and provides either a cool breeze or a chance to put on a light jacket.

The Chinooks have a Milwaukee connection that consists of former Brewer and Hall of Famer Robin Young, Brewers announcer Bob Eucker, and former Bucks GM John Hammond making up a quarter of the twelve investors of the club. The Chinooks is a joint venture between the college, private businesses, and community-minded individuals.

The outfield dimensions also add a nice little nod to Brewers greats jersey numbers–left field is 317 for Jim Ganter, center field is 344 for Hank Aaron, and right field is for Young at 319. The club has dedicated the 2019 season as the Summer of Yount with several promotions for the all-time great including bobble heads and several games where the club will play as the Rockin’ Robins.

When the Brewers are on the road, do yourself a favor and make the trip up north for a Chinooks game, it’s baseball that offers quite a bit of fun and affordable pricing.

Food & Beverage 5

There is quite a selection of food and beverage at the ballpark that includes a collection of food trucks that make their way to each game. There is a main concession stand directly underneath the main grandstand near the entrance that has almost everything imaginable.

The stand offers hot dogs, burghers, jalapeño cheddar brats, grilled chicken breast and spicy chicken sandwiches, a chicken BLT sandwich and a few local delicacies – foot long cod and smoked salmon sandwiches. The price points are $3.50 to $10 for each sandwich.

There are also boneless wings ($7-$10) that fans can top with one of numerous local Larry Legends’ wing sauces, including spicy bacon barbecue, garlic parmesan, honey barbecue, and scary Larry. I tried them all and the garlic parmesan was something unusual but very tasty.

Snacks include fried cheese curds, fried pickles, and jalapeño poppers and the ballpark offers German nachos that are pretzel balls topped with cheese, brat slices, and sauerkraut. Pepsi products are available at the ballpark.

The food carts feature the Bullpen BBQ that has sandwiches and platters of brisket, pulled chicken, and pulled pork. They also have loaded mac and cheese and a half-pound angus burger. Next door is a food truck that offers quite the opposite, the impossible burger and vegan bites. Then there is the Italian truck that creates personal pizzas with 9 different toppings, meatball subs, and sausage sandwiches.

Beer sells for $5.50 for both domestic and craft varieties; the craft selection offers varieties from Broken Bat Brewing Company: Chinooks 19 IPA, Straight Ahead Apricot Pale Ale, Corre Corre Mexican Lager, and Golden Sombrero American Pilsner.

Atmosphere 4

Kapco Park has an atmosphere that reminds me of minor league ballparks from 25-years-ago. The stadium does not offer a wraparound concourse or sunken seating and you would not be able to find any private suites above the seating bowl, but what you will find is a wonderful selection of affordable concessions, prize wheel games, a children’s play area, and the popular Fishin’ Hole bar down the third baseline.

There are 3,000 seats in the stadium that are separated by a middle concourse that features table seating with full wait service. Each table also has specialized condiments that includes mustard from Luxembourg. There are also two private group decks for parties of 40-50 along with the Robin’s Nest and Backyard Patio behind the right field fence that are $30-$35 per person and offers an All-You-Can-Eat menu.

Fishin’ Hole area is down the third base corner. It is accessible to all fans and offers a bar area with flowers, lights, and table top seating. It is an ideal place to enjoy the game with friends and other baseball fans in a very well decorated area of the stadium. The bar is fully stocked with both domestic and craft beer cans.

The rest of the seating in the ballpark provides great views and there are a lot of in-between promotions that take place with tire races, t-shirt tosses, mascot races, and many other gimmicks. If seating in the upper portion of the ballpark you can get a view of Lake Michigan and at times, a nice breeze during hot summer games. However, some nights can get cold enough where you might need to bring a jacket.

Kapco Park Lake Michigan, Photo by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey

Other features of the ballpark include inflatable rides for kids down the right field line that also includes open grass space for kids to run around or toss a baseball to one another. The bathrooms are also kept very clean and even feature potted plants in the men’s room–I assume there are flowers in the ladies room. Visitors can even play a few carnival games to win prizes that include ring tossing on bobbleheads.

The only complaint might be the team’s official team store located underneath the first base grandstand. It is a nice size area but it feels that there could be more items sold, including powder blue t-shirts and navy blue caps featuring the Rockin’ Robins logo.

Neighborhood 3

Kapco Park is located on Concordia University just off I-43 and 30 minutes north of downtown Milwaukee. The ballpark is near the Grafton Commons shopping mall where a collection of regional and nationwide restaurants exist. Charcoal Grill, Water Street Brewery, Flipside Cafe & Grill, and Juice’s Ghost Town are a few places to grab a bite to eat or drink when in the area.

The stadium is within walking distance of the lake offering plenty of views of Lake Michigan. A few miles north and south by car are areas to hike along the body of water including Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve and Virmond Park.

Being 18 miles north of downtown Milwaukee, there are more sports options that include taking in a Milwaukee Brewers game at Miller Park, checking out a Milwaukee Milkmen baseball game at Routine Field, or taking tours of the Milwaukee Bucks new home Fiserv Forum. Since you are in the Sud City, there are various beer tours that include Miller, Pabst, Lakefront, and Specher breweries.

Fans 4

Attendance for Chinooks game rank in the top half of the league attendance numbers and the crowd is vibrant during the game, despite poor play in the field by the home club. Many in attendance enjoy the in-between promotions by the club and socialization of being at the game with friends and family.

Access 4

Kapco Park is located off of I-43 on the campus of Concordia University Wisconsin. There is signage that leads motorists to the parking lot and then up to the ballpark itself. There are shuttle service rides to and from the game and once inside the stadium, all your concession and information is presented on the outer concourse of the stadium.

Return on Investment 4

The price of a general admission ticket in advance is $8, a grandstand ticket is $11, and box seats are $14. All ticket prices go up $1 the day of the game. There is a large parking lot near the ballpark that is free and there is a shuttle service to and from the game for people who have trouble walking. Concession prices are extremely reasonable and a tall boy can of locally crafted beer is only $5.50. Most of the concession stands do take credit cards and there is an ATM in the team store.

Extras 4

Kapco Park’s earns an extra point for its Fishin’ Hole area down the third base corner. It is accessible to all fans and offers a bar area with flowers, lights, and table top seating. It is an ideal place to enjoy the game.

Kapco earns a second point for the variety of food that is offered at home games from pizza, barbecue, and eight varieties of wing sauces. The basics are all here along with local favorites brats and fried cheese curds. You can also wash it down with a Chinooks 19 IPA or a glass of wine from Luxembourg.

Kapco earns another point for its mascot Gil who is one of the better ones in the business. He is active, funny and even holds a “small” grudge against Rocky Robin who makes an appearance one day a year when the club plays as the Rockin’ Robins. Gil also has the ability to speak, but perhaps can only be understood by other chinooks swimming in Lake Michigan.

Kapco earns a final point for plants in the men’s bathroom near the entrance. They are also freshly cleaned. If this is the case for the men’s room, I hope the same can be said for the ladies room.

Final Thoughts

I was told recently by several people from Milwaukee about how great Kapco Park is for a baseball game. It is not a fancy facility that offers a wraparound concourse or sunken bowl seating, but it offers great concessions and an atmosphere that reminds me why I enjoy traveling around the country visiting ballparks. The ballpark had been on my list for about 5 years and I am glad the wait was worth it, a fine ballpark experience.

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