Photos by Bart Wilhelm, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.14
Ronken Field at Karras Park 2501 S Grange Ave Sioux Falls, SD 57105
Year Opened: 1992 Renovated: 2013 Capacity: 500
Sioux Falls Sunfish
In 2021, the Expedition League expanded into the Sioux Falls, South Dakota market and the Sioux Falls Sunfish were born. They play their home at Ronken Field at Karras Park, which is also the home of the 2018 NCAA Division-II Champion Augustana University Vikings.
The sunfish, or bluegill, is a popular panfish throughout the Sioux Falls region and all of South Dakota, hence the team name.
Food & Beverage 3
The food menu is fairly limited at Karras Park. The main concession is actually outside the park gate down the first baseline. Their menu contains pulled pork nachos ($6), a quarter pound hot dog ($4), and pizza slices for $3. Popcorn and candy are also available. Bottled water and soda are $3 and Monster energy drinks are $4. This concession stand building is also where the stadium restrooms are located.
There’s also a Taco Cart underneath the stands to the first base side of home plate. They sell walking tacos for $6 and this is also where the beer is sold in the stadium. Most cans of beer are $5 for 16 ounces (Budweiser, Busch Light, White Claw and Bud Light Seltzers). They also have a couple 12 ounce craft beer cans from nearby Remedy Brewing Company for $6 (I’d recommend the Queen Bee Imperial Honey Crème Ale if it’s available).
There wasn’t much of a crowd on the night I visited. Roughly 75 people. I’m told that the crowds are around a hundred on the weekends. The team is still getting word out of the team to the locals. They’re also having trouble getting some promotions. They were denied fireworks nights because they’re in a residential area and, the college won’t let them have Bark in the Park Nights where people can bring their dogs.
Most of the seating is right behind home plate. There is one row of stadium-style seats followed by a few rows of wooden bleacher seats. The bleachers appear to be fairly new. The problem is, there’s no shade. If the sun is out, you’re in it. There are also some metal bleachers down the first baseline past the dugout. Two little patio table with chairs are also situated right to the left of home plate and provide an interesting field-level view of the game. They’re right on top of the action, but again, the sun is a factor.
The scoreboard in right centerfield is a basic score/runs/hits/errors/outs/batter number scoreboard. The playing field is all turf on the infield but switches to grass in the outfield.
The ballpark is located on the campus of Augustana University. While there is parking nearby, there’s nothing really within walking distance of the stadium. Downtown Sioux Falls is a couple miles north. There are plenty of local restaurants downtown to suit your taste. I personally had a delicious Shepherd’s Pie at The Blarney Stone Pub.
The major tourist attraction in Sioux Falls is Falls Park where you can see the actual waterfalls that the city is named for. It’s a short, 10-minute drive from the stadium.
Sioux Falls is a fairly decent sized city so there are plenty of hotel and motel options in town. I tend to stay as cheaply as possible and I found the Econo Lodge for right around $60.
I’d love to give the fans a higher grade, but there just weren’t many there. The Sunfish haven’t really caught on in the area yet. The ones who were there were into the game for the most part, but I’d estimate only about half the crowd stuck around until the end of the game on the night I was there (again, the sun on a warm night could be a factor).
The park is fairly easy to get to. It’s located just north of I-229 which stems off of I-29 and I-80. The physical address of the park is 2501 S Grange Ave.
There is a free parking lot that is also used for the nearby football field and the gymnasium. In the unlikely event that the lot is full, there is some nearby street parking available. From the lot, you’ll walk down the third base side of the field, and that’s where the ticket gate is. All seats are $8.
Return on Investment 3
There aren’t a lot of frills to Karras Park, but for a reasonable price of $8, you can watch college baseball players put on a good show. The beer prices are also quite reasonable for a baseball game.
It’s baseball and nothing more. If it’s sunny, you’ll get to work on your tan.
The Expedition League added three new teams for the 2021 season. They’re trying to expand and add several more. Sioux Falls is currently the largest city in the league’s footprint, but the fans just haven’t caught on yet. There is also competition from the Sioux Falls Canaries of the independent American Association. Hopefully, the attendance will improve and the team can stick around.