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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Mayo Field – Rochester Honkers


Photos by Bart Wilhelm and Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86

Mayo Field 403 E Center St Rochester, MN 55904



Year Opened: 1951

Capacity: 3,570

 

A Mayo Clinic

Mayo Field was built in 1951 on land donated to the city of Rochester by the Mayo Brothers, founders of the world-famous Mayo Clinic. Specified in that donation was that this plot of land must be used for baseball. For a time the Rochester Royals played here as a Kansas City Royals affiliate. When they left, the local town ball team took the name “Royals” and continues to play at Mayo Field today.

The Honkers have been members of the Northwoods League since their founding in 1994. They have won five championships over their history, most recently in 2009. Eight Honker alumni have reached the Major Leagues.

Food & Beverage 4

The concessions at Mayo Field are impressive for a ballpark of this size. The majority of the stands are located underneath the grandstand. Visitors to Mayo Field will be pleased with the diverse options available here.

The main stand offers your basic burgers and dogs, with some interesting options thrown in for good measure. The Angry Goose Burger adds pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, Holy Smoke BBQ sauce, and spicy pickles. You can amp up your nachos by adding shredded chicken, jalapenos, and Holy Smoke BBQ sauce, creating “Goose Pit Nachos.” Other items you may be surprised to find at this small stand are bratwursts, plant-based burgers, and cheese curds.

Fans looking for a snack should check out the Sweet Shop, where different flavors of gourmet popcorn, Dippin’ Dots, ice cream novelties, and other sweet treats are sold. Check out the Apple Nachos, which are apple slices doused in caramel sauce, sweet cream, and crushed butterfingers.

Pepsi products are featured at Mayo Field. Fans looking for an adult beverage can choose between Bud Light, and Michelob Golden Light ( a favorite in the area), along with craft brews from Castle Danger and Broken Bat Breweries.

Atmosphere 3

At a smaller, older park like Mayo Field, you wouldn’t expect an elaborate game day presentation, and you won’t get one. That doesn’t mean the Honkers staff don’t put on a nice show, because they do. They do a good job of mixing in some modern entertainment with traditional touches.

The Honkers mascot, Slider, basically a person with a giant baseball on his/her head, roams the ballpark interacting with fans, presenting sponsor ads, and helping with the typical on-field shenanigans. The guys in the booth get in on the act by playing silly songs for every opposing batter. There’s also a “Beer Batter” and “Root Beer Batter.” If the designated batter either strikes out or gets a hit, beer or root beer is half price for the rest of the inning. The root beer batter had a good night during Stadium Journey’s visit, as virtually every kid in attendance seemed to have a root beer in hand.

There’s a party deck down the left field line available for groups along with the Grand Slam Patio, a beer garden available to all fans. Both areas were packed during our visit. The Honkers run the usual array of between-inning games, including the water balloon home run derby, dizzy bat race, and the like. A scoreboard in right-center field shows basic game information.

Neighborhood 2

Although Mayo Field is located close to downtown Rochester, there’s not a whole lot near the ballpark to attract visiting fans. The nearby downtown area does offer numerous options for eating and drinking before or after a Honkers game. “Historic Third Street” contains a bunch of options packed together in a small area. For fans of craft beer, be sure to check out Forager Brewery and Café for great beer, excellent food, and live music.

With the legendary Mayo Clinic located in town, there is no shortage of choices in terms of lodging. The twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are about an hour and a half drive to the north.

Fans 3

Even though Rochester is a decent-sized city, there’s a real small-town vibe going on at Mayo Field. Perhaps it’s due to the presence of families and kids running around the grandstand throughout the game. Perhaps it’s due to the groups in attendance and the fans who have been sitting together for years. Whatever the reason, Mayo Field is a place where you can feel comfortable bringing the whole family.

The Honkers draw a shade under 1,000 fans per game, which is a bit under the Northwoods League average. Stadium Journey recently attended a Sunday evening game that drew a crowd much larger than average, so plan accordingly.

Access 3

Mayo Field is located near downtown Rochester, MN, a small city of just under 120,000 residents located in southeast Minnesota. Routes 14 and 52 serve the area, but the ballpark is located a couple of miles from the highway.

There is a small parking lot adjacent to the field, but it’s dangerously close in terms of the potential for a foul ball to come crashing through your windshield. Visitors are better served to park a little farther from the field. Should this lot be full, additional parking is located on the other side of the Zumbro River. If you arrive early, there’s a nice river walk that runs next to the ballpark down to Silver Lake. It’s worth a look on a nice summer day.

Once inside Mayo Field, there’s not a lot of room to roam. Concession stands line the area underneath the grandstand and you may find yourself navigating your way through the lines that form in the area. The ramps up to the seating area are incredibly steep, so be careful if you have mobility issues.

The first two rows of seating are individual stadium seats, which are sold as box seats. They come with a wait service. The rest of the seats consist of metal bleachers with backs. There is a small group area at the top of the grandstand and a pair of party decks down the left field line. Some of the best seats in the place belong to the residents of the condo complex next door, whose balconies hang over the right field wall.

The bathrooms are incredibly small (the men’s room consists of two stalls), but no lines were noticed during Stadium Journey’s visit. Time your trips to the concession stands carefully, as lines do form throughout the game. One note to team management: a coat of paint would go a long way towards improving the look of the old place.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets for Honkers games cost $15 for box seats (which feature wait service), $12 for reserved seats, and $10 for general admission seating (the last section of the grandstand). Parking is free in the lot adjacent to the park, and concessions are affordable. Overall, a night at a Honkers game is an affordable entertainment option for local baseball fans.

Extras 1

An extra point is awarded for some of the small, but nice touches to be found around the ballpark. A free roster sheet/game notes are available to all fans, and the entire Northwoods League standings are posted on the side of the grandstand (no small feat in a league with 24 teams). A banner hangs on the fence commemorating Honkers championships, but this was blocked by equipment.

Final Thoughts

When the Mayo Brothers donated the land that Mayo Field stand on to the city of Rochester, they specified in the deed that this plot of land had to be used for baseball, so you know that baseball is intricately tied to the community. Mayo Field has that nice old-timey feel to it that fits this level of baseball perfectly. If you find yourself in southern Minnesota, this is a worthy Stadium Journey.

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

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