Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Luther Williams Stadium 150 Willie Smokie Glover Dr Macon, GA 31201
Year Opened: 1929
Luther Williams Field is Bringing Home the Bacon Once Again
Luther Williams Field is the second oldest minor league stadium in the country. It was built in 1929, and for more than 50 years it served as the home of the Macon Peaches Class A ball club. During the 1980’s it served several different teams, including the Atlanta Braves as their Class A affiliate from 1991-2002. The ballpark’s last use as an ongoing home for a team was in 2007. Luther Williams Field retains many of its original elements, including a roof covering the grandstand. It has seating for 3,500 fans.
Baseball has returned to Macon in the form of the Macon Bacon. The club is a member of the Coastal Plain League, which plays a 56 game summer schedule with teams made up of college baseball players with the potential to make the major leagues.
The ownership group has invested more than $2.5 million in renovations and upgrades to the nearly 90 year-old stadium. These renovations have respected the bones of the stadium, while adding the modern amenities fans have come to expect. The results are now in, and the locals have gone hog wild about the return of baseball to Middle Georgia.
Food & Beverage 4
The Bacon have made extensive renovations of the concession areas, quadrupling the number of concession stands. The menu offerings include hot dogs ($3), hamburgers ($5), chicken sandwiches ($5), nachos ($4), popcorn ($4), peanuts ($3), pretzels ($4), sno cones ($3), boiled peanuts ($3), and cookies ($2). Beverages include Coca-Cola brand sodas ($5), bottled water ($3), and sweet tea ($5).
In addition to the regular concession stands, Luther Williams Field now has a beer garden located on the third base side of the field. Macon Beer Company manages the 2,000 square foot facility featuring its own brews. The beer garden is located at field level and features tables with umbrellas to shield patrons from the intense Georgia summer heat.
Adult beverages include domestic beers ($6), and spirits priced between $6-$9. Macon Beer Company’s selection of craft beers includes Founder’s Solid Gold ($7), Macon Plays ($7), Macon Progress ($7), Macon Money ($5), Macon Love ($5), and Jack’s Cider ($5).
Luther Williams Field has seen a great deal of baseball history in its nearly 90 years of existence and the Bacon team is honoring that past while adding features to meet the expectations of today’s baseball fans. Fans enter the facility through the brick and wrought iron gateway that has stood since the stadium’s inception. The plaza just inside the gate features photos and bios of the many baseball elites who have played at Luther Williams Field. The main grandstand is still covered by the full roof. The seats in this area are vintage, but have been sanded and painted. Pro tip: bring your seat cushion with you!
New additions include new premium seating sections, the beer garden, a dedicated area for groups attending the games, a pre-game picnic facility and a “sooievenir” store. The premium seating areas include the two front rows of the seating bowl. The front row features half round tables for in game dining by the seat holders and the second row has high top chairs with an 18” drinking rail.
A second premium seating area is located down the first base line and is known as the Cabana Suites. There are six covered, open air suites outfitted with ceiling fans to combat the hot and humid Georgia summer weather. Outside of each suite are 12 theatre style seats overlooking the action on the field.
Luther Williams Field is located in Central City Park just south of Macon’s downtown area. It is very close to some of Macon’s top restaurants and attractions. Two restaurants near the stadium that you will want to check out before the game are the Rookery on Cherry Street and Nu-Way Weiners on Emery Highway. Nu-way is a Macon landmark, as it has been in business for more than 100 years.
Macon is known as a great sports town, and it is home to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, the largest state sports museum and Hall of Fame in the country. It is also known as the hometown of some of the most famous and diverse musicians in the world. Singers Little Richard, Otis Redding, and the members of the Allman Brothers band all were Macon natives. You will cross the Otis Redding Memorial Bridge over the Ocmulgee River on the way to the ballpark, and the Allman Brothers Big House is now a museum.
Fans throughout the Middle Georgia area had been hungering for baseball to return after both the Columbus and Macon minor league franchises closed more than 10 years ago. The arrival of the Bacon seems to have “cured” that hunger. Ticket sales at Luther Williams Field for the new team have been brisk and there have been numerous sellouts. The fans have quickly developed a close relationship with team mascot Kevin Bacon. He performs a number of bacon bits in between innings and during other lulls in the action.
The fans have become very engaged with the team, as many of the Bacon players come from Macon-area colleges. More than 80% of the fans were wearing Bacon attire the night we attended the game. The Bacon Nation often breaks into a cheer without any prompting by the team organist. Many fans have adapted the Atlanta Braves Tomahawk Chop into what they refer to as the “Pork Chop.”
While every game in the Coastal Plain League is important, the Bacon have developed a fierce rivalry with their neighbors to the south, the Savannah Bananas. Meetings between the two teams have been hyped as “food fights,” and the media in both cities just eat it it up.
Macon is in the geographic center of Georgia, approximately 80 miles south of Atlanta and 171 miles northwest of Savannah. It is served by both I-75 and I-16, which begins in Macon. To reach Luther Williams Field, you will exit at I-16 exit #2 (Coliseum Drive), then go west on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard (US 80). Turn left on Riverside Drive. Turn left on Willie Smokie Glover Drive as you enter Central City Park. Luther Williams Stadium will be on your left. Unfortunately, Willie Smokie Glover Drive is the only road that provides access to the stadium, resulting in traffic gridlock, both before and after the games. Parking near the stadium is more than adequate once you reach the ballpark.
The Bacon management has made massive renovations at Luther Williams Field to make it more accessible to their fans. Restroom and concession facilities have been totally redone to improve functionality, efficiency, and bring them in compliance with ADA codes. Some historic components of the stadium may feel difficult to negotiate to some people, as the wideness of the aisles and height of the stairs may be steeper than newly built facilities. All new construction, such as the entry plaza, beer garden, and cabana suites are fully accessible.
Return on Investment 5
A night out at Luther Williams Field provides an excellent return on investment. The Bacon management has put together an excellent team, both on and off the field. The ticket prices are very reasonable at $10-$15. The concession stands offer a wide variety of food and beverages at family friendly pricing and parking is free. In addition to the action on the field you will also enjoy the antics of the Bacon entertainment team up in the stands. There are contests, skits, or musical performances during any lulls in the game.
Luther Williams Field has been utilized as a vintage backdrop for several movies and TV shows. These include Bingo Long Traveling All Stars and Motor Kings, 42, Trouble with the Curve, and the baseball scenes for the TV series Brockmire.
Among the future major league stars who got their start at Williams Field are Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Vince Coleman, Chipper Jones, Jermaine Dye, and Andruw Jones.
The Bacon play in the 16-team Coastal Plain League (CPL), one of the premiere summer college baseball leagues in the country. The CPL covers the states of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. Past participants in the CPL include Justin Verlander, Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Zimmerman and two sport star Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks. More than 1,400 CPL players have gone on to be drafted by an MLB team.
Just as bacon has seen a renaissance as a food item, the Macon Bacon have brought about a renaissance for baseball in the Middle Georgia area. This has continued a trend within the Coastal Plain League to repurpose historic baseball stadiums for use by the college wood bat league teams. This Bacon recipe of baseball in a historic structure… seasoned with a few modern elements to meet the taste of today’s fans… is high in fun and low in cost. The Bacon Nation is sure to come back for a second helping.