Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Marion Stadium 1000 Miners Drive Marion, IL 62959
Year Opened: 2007 Capacity: 7,000
Take a Thrilling Ride in Thrillville, USA
Marion Stadium is home to the Thrillville Thrillbillies of the summer collegiate Prospect League. The team returned to organized baseball to back Marion, Illinois, after the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier League folded in 2021. The 7,000-seat ballpark is among the biggest in the summer league, but a new name and imagery hope to bring fans back to the ballpark.
The stadium hoped to lure a Single-A Midwest League team by former mayor, but when that did not work, the town opted for the independent Frontier League. The Miners were a success during its inaugural season of 2007, attracting 259,392 fans, but after several years of declining attendance, the love affair appeared to be over. The original owners retired after the 2021 season, and baseball was gone.
Enter the Thrillbillies, whose unique identity is inspired by the regional outdoor adventures of off-road driving and rock climbing. The club’s logo of a deer and rabbit riding an ATV and skydiving adheres to those outdoor adventures of Southern Illinois.
The venue opened as Rent One Park but reverted to Mountain Dew Park in early 2023, but changed to Marion Stadium at the start of the T-Billies opening night. Besides summer collegiate baseball, the ballpark hosts the Colt World Series and the Great Lakes Valley Conference, and Ohio Valley Conference college baseball tournaments.
Food & Beverage 3
The ballpark introduced a whole new menu, including a few interesting items that hope to be signature items: the Thrillville Chicken Sandwich and Burger. There are also Mexican, barbecue, and sweet treats to appeal to most fans at the ballgame.
The Thrillville Chicken Sandwich is fried in Flaming Hot Cheetos crumbs, doused with habanero sauce, and served between two Krispy Kreme donuts. The Thrillville Burger is topped with bacon and cheese sauce in between two crispy waffles as buns. They sell for $10; fans can make it a combo with chips and a drink for $3 extra.
The main concession stand behind homeplate serves hot dogs (regular and foot long), ¼ pound cheeseburgers, grilled or breaded chicken sandwiches, and chicken strips. All sandwiches can be upgraded to a combo, fully loaded, or include extra heat if desired.
The Catina is located down the third base end of the concourse and offers quesadillas with chips, three street tacos, and fully loaded nachos. The barbecue stand features pulled pork, smoked chicken, and brisket sandwiches. A kiosk behind the backstop offers brisket sloppy joes with barbecue chips.
The colorful Lollywood concession stand serves sugary sweets, including ice cream, doughnuts in three different flavors, assorted candies, and cotton candy. Fans can also order cheese and pepperoni pizza slices, too.
The alcoholic drinks are also behind the backstop and include Budweiser products from Bud, Bud Light, Mich Ultra, and seltzers from Nutrl and Cutwater. The cocktails available are a Mt. Dew Margarita, Sangria, and various mixed drinks.
Marion Stadium has a different look than other ballparks of its kind. Instead of a red brick and hunter-green canopy design, the structure’s colors are black, steel, and gray. The main concourse features exposed piping from the press box and suite area with open views of the playing field from anywhere in the stadium.
Due to the transition of the stadium to the new ball club, there is evidence of the old Miners that include seat signage with a rock design in the former team’s colors and the removal of the Rent One Park logo outside the stadium’s main entrance. However, the Thrillbillies aura is presently painted on the walls of the Lollywood concession stand in a graffiti style.
The Thrillbillies have a dance team that performs on the dugout innings, along with assisting the on-field promotions in between each inning of play. The team’s rabbit mascot can be seen on the field and in the stands entertaining fans of all ages. The team shop is stocked with club gear, from caps, t-shirts, and other trinkets.
The stadium features 14 luxury suites and an events center up above the third base side that can accommodate up to 200 guests. The field uses Sportexe Turf, a synthetic surface that drains easier than natural grass and can be used for other events throughout the year.
The ballpark is directly off I-57 and between regional restaurants and hotel chains. A few hotels are located in the same parking lot of the stadium and are ideal for easy access back and foot during a visit. However, many close around 10 pm Sunday to Wednesday, but if visiting on a weekend night, you will have a few options.
618 Tap House is within seconds by car from the ballpark and features pub food from chicken wings, burgers, and sandwiches. The draft list is impressive and ideal for a pint or two after the game with friends. 17th Street Barbecue has one of its locations in the neighborhood with pulled pork, brisket, and smoked chicken available until it’s gone. With the family, Applebee’s, Logan’s Roadhouse, or Buffalo Wild Wings are close to Marion Stadium.
The fanbase is getting to know the T-Billies and averages over 2,000 fans per game. The crowds are respectable for the league. You will see folks wearing team colors and caps and supporting the ball club; hopefully, there will be something to cheer for years to come in Marion.
The stadium is at the intersection of I-57 and Illinois Route 13. There are three parking entry gates for guests to enter the parking area. Inside the ballpark, fans can get around and access the three main points of sale for concessions and the merchandise store near the main entrance. After the game, traffic moves smoothly out of the parking lot, but could be cumbersome on nights with larger crowds.
Return on Investment 4
Ticket prices are $8 for a seat in the grandstand and $5 for lawn seating down the third baseline. The club does not charge for parking. Concession prices are as low as $4 for a hot dog and $10 for a Thrillville Burger or Chicken sandwich. Merchandise prices are in line with many other franchises in the league, with a cap selling for $30 and a t-shirt for $25.
Marion Stadium earns a point for its Thrillville Burgers and Chicken Sandwich. It is awarded a second point for its distinctive design compared to other ballparks of its era. A third point is for the ticket prices which are only $5 and $8 a night. A final point is for the management to develop promotions that include the unique Tighty Bowl game.
The Thrillbillies have a distinct branding that hopes to bring fans back to the ballpark. The team looks to reach beyond the typical baseball promotions and help make a night at the game a “thrill” again in Southern Illinois.