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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Lewis and Clark Stadium - Sioux City Explorers

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Lewis and Clark Park

3400 Line Dr

Sioux City, IA 51106

Year Opened: 1993

Capacity: 3,631

Baseball Sioux City Style

The Sioux City Explorers were founded in 1993 as members of the Northern League. From their inception, they have called Lewis and Clark Park home. The ballpark was the first one built specifically for an independent baseball team.

The Explorers have experienced some success, both in their Northern League days and in the American Association. While they have yet to win a league championship, they reached the Northern League finals in 1994 and the American Association championship in 2015, losing both times.

To help fund renovations to the facility, naming rights were sold to Mercy Medical Center in 2016. The facility is now properly named Mercy Field at Lewis and Clark Park. Improvements that were made at the time included a new scoreboard (replacing the old scoreboard, which had been struck by lightning), renovations to the press box, outfield fencing, clubhouses and suites.

Food & Beverage 3

There is one concession stand at Lewis and Clark Park, which offers typical ballpark fare. Hot dogs, bratwurst, burgers, chicken fingers and pork tenderloin sandwiches are sold at this stand. A variety of ballpark snacks, including nachos, fries, popcorn and peanuts are also available here. Fans looking for something a bit out of the ordinary can order jumbo pickles or cheese balls. Pepsi products are featured at Lewis and Clark Park.

Adding a bit of variety to the menu is a portable cart on the third base side of the stadium, dubbed the "South of the Border" cart. Here fans can find a specialty item, the "Expedition Nachos." Traditional Nacho chips are covered with pulled pork, tomatillo salsa and white queso sauce. Draft beers are also sold here from Bud Light, Coors Light, Blue Moon and local brand 712 Brewery.

An interesting twist in the menu is the nightly "Eat Your Opponent" promotion, where one menu item is selected as the nightly special. For example, on the night of Stadium Journey's visit the opponent was the Winnipeg Goldeyes. The Eat Your Opponent menu item was chicken tenderloins smothered in BBQ sauce served with a side of french fries. OK, it's not a perfect correlation, but that's as close to fish and chips as the Explorers could get.

Atmosphere 3

The gameday atmosphere at a small ballpark such as Lewis and Clark Park is fairly simple and laid-back, as you may expect. A bare bones presentation fits in perfectly with a bare bones ballpark. Still, there is plenty of fun to be had at an explorers game.

The Explorers utilize a mascot, a black dog named Slider, who interacts with fans and participates in between inning promotions. The ballpark has a new videoboard in left-center field that is put to good use with player stats, videos and game information. Country music blares over the speakers between innings, which is not surprising in this part of the country. Veteran minor league baseball travelers will find a lot that's familiar and comfortable here in Sioux City.

Neighborhood 3

Lewis and Clark Park is located about five miles south of downtown Sioux City at the junction of Interstate 29 and Route 75. The area around the ballpark is a mixed use business and industrial area. Visiting fans will find many options for dining and lodging in the immediate area. Among the favorite spots to eat right near the ballpark are Four Brothers Grill & Bar and Clyde's Grill & Pub. The Southern Hills Mall is located on the far side of Route 75.

Other fans visiting Sioux City may wish to head downtown, where the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino anchors the area. Also located in the downtown area is the Tyson Events Center, which hosts events ranging from concerts to hockey games to indoor football.

History buffs may seek out the Sargent Floyd Memorial, located a short drive from the ballpark. Sargent Floyd was a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition who passed away during the voyage near the present-day site of Sioux City.

Fans 2

The Explorers generally rank near the bottom of the American Association attendance rankings, averaging between 1,200-1,500 fans per game. Despite their small size, the fans that do attend Explorers games are knowledgable about their team and enthusiastic about the action going on down on the field.

A crowd at Lewis and Clark Park is a mix of locals, families and groups, just as you will find at minor league ballparks across the country. Sioux City boasts friendly fans befitting this small midwestern city. Even if you are from out of town, chances are you'll have some new friends by the time an Explorers game is over.

Access 4

Driving is the only way to arrive at Lewis and Clark Park, and the ballpark is easy to find. It is located just off of Interstate 29 and Route 75 a few miles south of downtown Sioux City. Exit 143 (Singing Hills Rd.) drops fans off about a half mile from the ballpark. Simply take a left onto Stadium Drive, and Lewis and Clark Park is at the end of the road.

There is a large parking lot right next to the ballpark. Some spots are very close to the field, so beware of stray foul balls finding your windshield. You may wish to fnd a spot a little farther from the entrance.

The ballpark is a simple structure with a grandstand that wraps around from first base to third base. The seating bowl is separated into upper and lower sections by a walkway located about a third of the way up. All seats are individual folding stadium seats. Lower seats are red, and upper sections are blue. There are bleachers located down either foul line that are sold as general admission.

Concession Stands and a small merchandise stand are located underneath the seating area. There is a party deck far down the left field line, with views of the field from its large porch. Lewis and Clark Stadium has newly renovated bathrooms that are large enough to handle a typical Explorers crowd.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets for Explorers games are sold in three levels; Box Seats (red) for $13, Reserved Seats (blue) for $11 and General Admission (red) for $8. Purchasing ticket on game day increases prices by two dollars, and by three dollars on Friday and Saturday nights.

Parking in the lot adjacent to the ballpark will cost you two dollars. Concessions are affordable, making going to an Explorers game an affordable entertainment option.

The team offers a couple of unique in-game promotions. If the opponent's "K-Man" strikes out during an at-bat, draft beers are available for just a dollar for the rest of that inning. If the Explorers' "Hit Man" gets a hit during his at-bat, all soft drinks are sold for one dollar for the rest of the inning. The resulting rush to the concession stands is fun to watch.

Extras 2

The concession specials are worth an extra point.

Lewis and Clark Park is the first ballpark in the country built specifically for independent baseball.

Final Thoughts

Lewis and Clark Park is a small-town ballpark that is in danger of being passed by, even by the independent American Association. As the league continues to move into newer ballparks in larger cities, small cities like Sioux City are in danger of losing their teams. This is hardly an indictment on ballparks like Lewis and Clark Park, which are quickly becoming obsolete as the stadium arms race escalates.

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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