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  • Writer's pictureMeg Minard

Oregon Trail Park Stadium - Western Nebraska Pioneers


Photos by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14

Oregon Trail Park Stadium 17th Trail Ct Gering, NE 69341

Year Opened: 2018 Capacity: 1,200

 

Summer Baseball in Nebraska's Panhandle

Collegiate summer wood-bat baseball is the fastest growing segment of the sports entertainment industry, with more than 450 teams in more than 40 leagues throughout North America. The Expedition League is the newest of these leagues beginning operation in 2018.

The Expedition League cleverly consists of two divisions: the Lewis Division and the Clark Division with teams in ND, SD, WY, and NE. The Western Nebraska Pioneers (Clark Division) play at the beautiful, newly-constructed Oregon Trail Park Stadium in Gering, NE.

The game day experience is the perfect way to wind down the day, spend a few hours watching America’s past time, and easily forget about the worries of life for those few hours.

Food & Beverage 3

Oregon Trail Park Stadium provides a decent variety of refreshments during a Pioneers game with one concession stand upon entering the venue and a separate Duncan’s BBQ tent just off to the left side of the entrance.

At the concession stand, six varieties of burgers, five choices of hot dogs, and a ¼ pound beef brat are available ranging from $4.50 – $12. For an additional $4 order a meal which also includes a bag of chips and a 24 ounce Coca-Cola soda. Snacks include the usual chips, candy, popcorn, peanuts, pretzels, whole pickle, etc and range from $2 – $4. Nachos are priced at $4 – $9, and pizza (Dominos) is $2 a slice or $14 for a pie. Lines at the concession stand can get long.

Duncan’s BBQ, a local Scottsbluff family catering business, offers delicious, huge portions of fresh beef and pork sandwiches, tacos, dogs and other tantalizing scented treats.

Domestic beers of the Bud Light, Miller, Coors, Michelob variety cost $4; unfortunately no craft beers are for sale. A local Scottsbluff brewery is expected to open later in 2018 so hopefully the Pioneers organization can partner with them in future seasons at the ball yard.

A merchandise area behind the first base stands sells mostly t-shirts, sweatshirts, and caps.

My recommendation is to do the local thing and get some of that yummy BBQ from Duncan’s.

Atmosphere 4

Attending a Western Nebraska Pioneers wood-bat summer collegiate ballgame is the perfect way to spend an evening for both the baseball purist and those who just want to spend an evening out and leave the worries of day behind for three hours.

Green stadium fold down chairs with cup holders are available behind the home base area in sections 103 (third base), 102 (behind home), 101 (first base). The seats are so comfortably wide with plenty of leg room; it’s like the organization knew how to put fan comfort first when constructing the ballpark. Very, very nicely done.

These sections are in the shade for the most part; the third base side gets the shade first. The upper three rows of these sections (E – G) have cover in the event of rain. Get seats in row C or above as there’s a walkway and fans pass by throughout the game obstructing views of the playing field if sitting in rows A or B.

General admission bleachers (with backs) are beyond the first and third base sides.

Party decks are available in these sections with tables and chairs.

The home dugout is on third base side which conveniently gets the shade first while the visiting team’s dugout on the first base side gets the direct sunlight for the first several innings.

The music volume is perfect at a Western Nebraska Pioneers game and 98% of the time is not played over the PA announcer. Nice! Walk up songs for the home team are broadcast; the volume is not too loud and one can still have a conversation with a new-found friend at a Pioneers game.

In between inning gimmicks and contests are not overwhelming and are still enjoyable. No over excited screeching male or female and loud music for the contests. Sweet! All are sponsored by local businesses and include running the bases with the mascot, Nebraska history questions, the dizzy bat race, strike out batter of the game, and more.

A funny part of the dizzy bat race is the baseball players watching… the pitcher stops warming up and looks, the infielders huddle together to watch the contest and then the players attempt to help when a participant clumsily falls over on the field trying to reach the intended finish line.


Neighborhood 3

For now, there’s not much to the neighborhood. Building this ballpark is the first step to revitalizing the Gering/Scottsbluff area. It is located next to Nebraska National Guard so fans can feel quite safe.

The Oregon Trail Park (where the stadium is located) contains a pool, softball fields, a playground, tennis courts, picnic tables and other public park amenities.

Attractions within five miles include Scottsbluff National Monument, Legacy of the Plains Museum, Riverside Discovery Center (a zoo in Scottsbluff), and several golf courses. Chimney Rock National Historic Site and Visitors Center is 19 miles from Gering and may be worth the trip.

Two hotels within a few blocks from the stadium are Monument Inn & Suites (a four or five block walk to ballfield) and Cobblestone Hotel & Suites Gering – Scottsbluff (a block closer to the field). I stayed at the Monument Inn and it is quite suitable.

Some bars and restaurants in Gering include Union Bar (no craft beer), Goonies, and Steel Grill Restaurant & Bar. Of the three, I’d recommend Steel Grill. A craft brewery is expected to open in Scottsbluff (Flyover Brewing Company) at some point in 2018.

Fans 5

Nebraska sports fans are known to be passionate, vocal, and supportive; Western Nebraska Pioneers fans fit that reputation accurately.

Fans start a rally without any prompts from PA announcer. They have cowbells. Lots of Pioneers shirts are seen in the stands. Everybody seems to know everybody. Most gladly strike up conversations with visitors.

The flooring of the seating area is metal – good for stomping feet and letting the visiting team hear “Western Nebraska thunder.”

The Pioneers have the highest attendance in the Expedition League this first inaugural season.

Access 5

Once in the panhandle of Nebraska, Oregon Trail Park Stadium is quite easy to get to via automobile and moving around the stadium is convenient.

A bus system is available in Scottsbluff, Terrytown, and Gering but for now, it only operates Monday through Friday from 6:30 am to 6:30 pm, so getting to/from the stadium is limited via public transportation.

Western Nebraska Regional Airport is the closest airport; keep in mind it is regional with limited commercial service mostly by United Airlines and affiliates.

Plenty of free parking is available on the street and in lots just a block away from the park. It’s not a huge ballpark so auto traffic flow is painless pre and postgame.

The ticket line takes some time and the booth opens just as or after the gates to the venue open; this may be an area to improve on for future seasons.

Bathrooms are air conditioned on those hot Nebraska days and heated when necessary for those cooler evenings. In the seating areas, hand banisters are available in the middle and both sides of each seating area. Wheelchair ramps are provided to the bleacher sections and handicapped seats are readily available in the ‘reserved’ area behind home.

Concessions, restrooms, and the merchandise stand are all on the outer promenade of the venue.

Return on Investment 5

Attending a Pioneers game is well worth your sports and family entertainment dollar.

General admission seats are $7, reserved seating is $9. No extra charge is added for a game day purchase. Ten-ticket flex packs save $1 a ticket; group events are available.

Parking is free. Concession prices are as expected; domestic beer is $4.

And, most importantly, attending a game is just the perfect evening out for Nebraska sports fans, the western Nebraska community, and visitors to the area.

Extras 4

It is apparent the fans are quite proud having their own team and a brand new, comfortable, enjoyable stadium in Gering, NE.

Sitting in section 102, row G, seats 14 – 18 will place you right underneath the radio broadcast (KNEB 960AM; 100.3FM) and allow you to hear Miles Klotz broadcast an engaging play-by-play of the game.

Kudo’s to Trevor (PA Announcer) who not only calls the starting line ups and batters but keeps the fans informed of player switches and other pertinent information throughout the nine innings, he also seems to orchestrate and be the ringmaster for all the between inning events.

The mascot (Hiram) is named for a historical fur trader – Hiram Scott. Hiram Scott was a Mountain Man, trapper, and trader, who was passing by the nearby bluff on his way to St. Louis, MO when he died in 1828. The story of how he died has several versions and has a bit of a mystery to it. Regardless, Scottsbluff (neighboring city of Gering) is named after Hiram Scott and the Pioneers pay homage to him.


Final Thoughts

It is so, so comfortable here.The seats are wide, there’s plenty of leg room, the fans are energized, and the Pioneers staff is ready to assist, if needed.It’s still more about the game than the extra stuff but there’s enough of that to keep non-purists entertained.Live in the panhandle and need a refreshing break from life’s affairs?Head to a Pioneer’s games for some fun, innocent sports entertainment.




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