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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Loeb Stadium – Lafayette Aviators




Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Loeb Stadium 1915 Scott St. Lafayette, IN 47904



Year Opened: 2021

Capacity: 2,600



 

Welcome to the New Loeb Stadium


From 1940 to 2019, the original Loeb Stadium in Lafayette, Indiana, was the home for baseball. It served as home to the Lafayette-Jefferson High School baseball program, the Colt World Series, various minor league baseball teams, and since 2016 the Lafayette Aviators of the Prospect League.


That changed when the ground broke on August 27, 2019, on a new ballpark that would open for the 2021 high school baseball season. The $22 million renovation plan would include a press box, multiple concession stands, and bathrooms, stadium seats, a terrace level with hospitality suites, and new turf.


The grandstand was rotated 180 degrees from its original position, and its main entrance is now at the corner of Main and Waters Street. The new ballpark also houses a video scoreboard, a beer garden, and a wraparound concourse. Construction took 19 months, which included a three-week shutdown for the pandemic, in April 2020. On March 31, 2020, the first event took place when the Lafayette-Jefferson Brochos debuted at the ballpark.


The construction was paid using an economic development income tax, rather than property tax. Its development hopes to serve as a gateway to visitors to the downtown corridor about three miles north of the stadium. The high school team will be the primary tenant during the springtime and house tournaments, summer collegiate ball, and hopefully a soccer club.



Food & Beverage 3

Two main concession stands offer the same variety of ballpark staples and include hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos, chicken finger baskets, fries, and beverages. There are a few kiosks around the concourse that feature flavored ice. People’s Brewery Company sponsors the beer garden in the right-field corner.


The prices range from $4 for a hot dog to $7 for a grilled chicken sandwich. The beer prices appear to be a better value, with four varieties of People’s costing $6 for a draft and three more varieties in a 12-ounce can for the same price. Bud, Miller, Coors, and Yuengling cans and drafts are $5 at the two concession stands.


Atmosphere 4

A packed house welcomed the Aviators to their new digs, with the local Lafayette-Jefferson High School band playing outside the stadium as part of the pre-game festivities. Once through the gates, staff members welcome you with a souvenir plastic cup, and plenty of local business people with tables hawking their services.


Before the game, the crowd watched the mayor throwing out the first pitch, three skydivers landing onto the field amid reddish smoke, and the team mascot Ace arriving by a makeshift landplane. The audience was ready for summer collegiate baseball in its fancy, modern baseball facility.


The design of the stadium, similar to other ballparks, bears a striking resemblance to the nearby Kokomo Municipal Stadium. However, with only a 2,600 capacity, compared to Kokomo’s 4,000, the New Loeb feels just about ideal for summer collegiate baseball. American Structurepoint was the architect behind both buildings, and there were a few notes of inspiration taken for their latest project in Lafayette.


According to its website, The design takes its inspiration from the stadium’s original 1940s-era Art Deco architecture by using architectural precast concrete colonnades, traditional brick facades, and exposed structural steel. The colors of sandstone, dark brown, and brick provide an eye-popping aesthetic and break away from the ballpark colors of brick red and forest green.


Fans can also enjoy a walk around the entire concourse which includes a well-balanced lawn seating area behind the left-field wall and a beautiful view of the Tropicanoe Cove water slide. However, as you make your way to the right-field side, the playing field is cut off by a narrow walkway and tall screen protection from fly balls crashing into the nearby Columbia Park offices and parking lot.


The Aviators official team store is located near the entrance, offering an array of merchandise from replica jerseys, team caps, mini baseball bats, and both men's and women's t-shirts. Many at the ballpark snatched up quite a bit that include ball caps starting at $20.



Neighborhood 3

Loeb Stadium is adjacent to the Tropicanoe Cove Waterpark and Columbian Park Zoo. It is also about three and a half miles away from the campus of Purdue University. The zoo features close to 200 animals, and the cost is free, but donations are encouraged. The rest of the park offers walking and biking trails, playgrounds for the children, shelters, and picnic areas.


Within the visibility of the outfield walls are two popular spots before or after the game: Arni’s Pizza and Original Frozen Custard. The custard stand has been a tradition since 1932, featuring custard, milkshakes, hot dogs, tenderloin sandwiches, phosphates, and Coca-Cola drinks flavored with marshmallows and Tiger Blood (coconut and cherry) syrups. It’s the perfect place for a pre-game meal and a post-game dessert.


If you would like to venture around the town of Lafayette, a few suggestions would be South Street Smokehouse, Black Sparrow, and East End Grille. Triple XXX Family Restaurant is a popular destination among locals and tourists and has been on Food Network. Their homemade root beer is worth a glass or two when in town for the game.


Fans 4

A packed house was on hand for the Aviators home opener, others were there for a night out with friends and family, but others for a baseball game. The club has been around since 2016 and cemented itself within the community. Now, with a bright new building, they should feel great about having possibly the best ballpark in the Prospect League.


Access 4

Getting around the stadium is simple, and there is more than enough room to maneuver to various areas in the building. If you still want to stay clear of a large audience, most, if not all, were without masks, grab a spot in the lawn section.


There are also a couple of methods off I-65 to the ballpark, about 5 miles from each exit. A free parking lot is a couple of blocks south of the ballpark, and there is plenty of street parking in the surrounding neighborhood that consists of residential housing. The traffic runs smoothly, but arrive early for a close spot and do not park in the frozen custard parking lot where they charge $50 per car (it’s a joke, yet effective).


Return on Investment 4

The price of a ticket is $8 for General Admission and $10 for reserved seating. The parking is free, the beer is between $5 and $6, and merchandise runs reasonably inexpensively. The only complaint might be the price of a hot dog at $4. When you add this all up, it’s quite a budget-friendly night of baseball.


Extras 3

The New Loeb Stadium earns a point for its view of the water slide behind the left-field lawn seating, adding a sweet aesthetic to the game. The second point is for the custard stand, roughly the same distance from a throw from second to first base, which is a must either before or after the game. The last point is for the ballpark’s colors and comfort that is not too big and not too familiar to other buildings of its kind.


Final Thoughts

The New Loeb Stadium is everything the previous building wasn’t–modern, comfortable, and stylish. The ballpark should open up a great new tradition during the baseball season in Lafayette and provide a catalyst to host other events throughout the year. It’s an exciting place for a game that is cozy and friendly.


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Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel. Email at Marc.Viquez@stadiumjourney.com

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