Memorial Park - Royal Oak Leprechauns
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Memorial Park 31050 Woodward Ave. Royal Oak, MI 48073
Year Opened: 1939
Leprechauns Feeling Lucky in Royal Oak
The Royal Oak Leprechauns are members of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League and call Memorial Park home. The team has made many renovations to the field that they dub “The Lucky Corner”, which only a few years ago was nothing more than a worn-out dirt infield that was showing its age.
The improvements began with a generous donation from Major League All-Star and two-time batting champion D.J. LeMahieu, who went to high school in nearby Brother Rice and knows team owner Mark Sackett, resulting in a brand new playing surface. His donations helped improve the ballfield, which includes an artificial turf infield and a natural grass outfield.
More changes included new plastic seating for lumbar support in the bleacher-style seating grandstand, a new scoreboard, fencing, updated dugouts, a press box, and asphalt surfacing around the field. The little ballpark not only looks much different but feels much like a place for summer collegiate baseball in Metro Detroit.
The Leprechauns joined the league in 2016 and were based out of Adrian, Michigan, at Siena Heights University. They couldn’t draw crowds for games with what Sackett believed was “people heading to the lakes instead of the ballfield in the summer.” The club looked at other areas outside of Detroit and announced plans to open the 2020 season in Royal Oak in the fall of 2019.
However, financing more than COVID-19 quelled relocation plans, and the Leprechauns might have moved to Grand Rapids if it wasn’t for LeMahieu’s generosity. The improvements to Memorial Park cost $400,000 and were privately funded, costing taxpayers not one penny. The team signed an agreement with the city for 10 years and hopes for a little luck on the field and in the standings.
Food & Beverage 3
The food and beverage tables are located on the 3rd base side of the ballpark. The choices include grilled burgers, peanuts, hot dogs, and brats. There are also homemade cookies and, from what I have been told, fried Lucky Charms. The pizza is from Tania’s Pizza which offers a stuffed crust pizza in cheese or pepperoni. It is unusual, but very popular at the ballpark. Ice cream is served by the cone or in the cop and topped with sprinkles.
Beverages include a variety of beer, canned cocktails, and hard seltzers, and fans can purchase a beer bat to enjoy their favorite drink. They include Miller Lite, Leinenkugel Summer Shandy, Simply Hard Lemonade, White Claw, Modelo, and High Noon. On certain nights, the alcohol is discounted, but they will cost you no more than $5 on most game nights.
Team management turns the city park into an inviting place for baseball with team banners on the exterior fencing, food tents with team colors and logos, and a game-day staff of around 14 assisting with on-field promotions, in between inning contests, and PA announcements. There is a strong minor league baseball atmosphere demonstrated during the night that should appeal to many fans. However, there are enough areas to keep score and watch the game.
The ballpark has a capacity of 600, and its grandstand is made up of aluminum bleachers fitted with yellow and green plastic chairbacks. They add a colorful aesthetic to the scenery, as do the multiple trees surrounding the ballpark from the inside and outside fencing. A large fence with netting makes up the backstop, and the synthetic infield features the city’s official logo.
Fans can purchase t-shirts and caps at the souvenir table behind home plate fans can stroll down the 3rd baseline for more views of the game, grab a bite at the food trucks when available, or mingle with friends and family in the stands. The team mascot Paddy O’Dingers makes his rounds during the game, and kids run the bases and high-five players after the game.
Royal Oak has a population of 57,000 plus and is known as The City of Trees. It has over 50 parks, a downtown offering options for dining, nightlife, and shopping, and is home to the Detroit Zoo. There is enough to do to keep you busy after the game in the city, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Detroit. There are plenty of places to eat that include variety in town.
Pronto Royal Oak is a cafe offering sandwiches and homemade soups with giant cookies for dessert. Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina serves Neapolitan, wood-fired pizzas, and gelato. The Morrie Royal Oak features barbecue plates, pub fare, and cocktails in a music-themed roadhouse with live entertainment. KouZina Greek Street Food is a relaxed counter-service restaurant for Greek food. The Royal Oak Brewery offers a beer garden and homemade entrees.
There has been a huge support for the Leprechauns since they arrived in Royal Oak. The fanbase packs the stadium throughout multiple promotional and weekend nights. It is a cheaper alternative than heading downtown to watch the Tigers at Comerica Park. There appear to be repeat customers who enjoy the baseball, the atmosphere, the pricing, and the easy commute from their homes.
Memorial Park is small but easy to get around the main concourse behind the backstop. The grandstand seating can be a little tight for some of us; there is plenty of room to spread out when needed. There is still more room behind the left field corner of the ballpark where trees, grass areas, and picnic tables are. The bathrooms are located a little bit and conveniently behind the left field sense. There is a large parking lot in front of the main entrance for easy access from your car.
Return on Investment 5
The price of a ticket is $7, merchandise is between $20-$25 for caps or shirts, and a beer will cost you no more than $5. It does not get much better than this at any summer collegiate ballpark, and when you add the promotions and team gusto, it’s even better. It makes for a fun night of baseball with friends and family.
Memorial Park earns a lot of extra points for this review. They include the green and yellow seating in the grandstand, various in-game promotions, and structural improvements to the ballfield and stadium. The vibe is alive at the Lucky Corner Ballpark.
You should check out a Leprechauns game if you are in Detroit. The affordable tickets and concessions make it an ideal spot for any ballpark traveler or anyone living within a reasonable distance from the stadium. You see a lot of different atmospheres in the Great Lakes league, but they have something happening in Royal Oak.
Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel.