Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.42
Schweickert Stadium 2600 Plank Rd. Peru, IL 61354
Year Opened: 2023 Capacity: 2,200
Pistol Shrimp Making a Home in the Illinois Valley
The Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp are members of the summer collegiate Prospect League and play their home games at Schweickert Stadium at Veterans Memorial Park in Peru, Illinois. The stadium's name comes from the Schweickert family, which donated $500,000 towards an investment into the stadium.
The P-Shrimp began operations at Benedictine University's baseball stadium in Niles, Illinois, in 2019. After COVID-19 canceled the season, the club found a new home 100 miles west in Peru. The problem was that there wasn’t a suitable stadium; it was only a diamond and a few metal bleachers. That did not deter team management as they began constructing a stadium while, at the same time, not charging admission to fans.
In 2023, a 575-seat grandstand and press box were built, featuring a brick backstop, a concession stand, and dugouts. Future phases of the project include sinking the dugouts, adding permanent bathrooms, extending the bleacher seating and enlarging the concession stands, and a new scoreboard.
What the Pistol Shrimp have is a grass-roots ballpark that offers an experience nestled into the community it surrounds. Also, the team is named for its enlarged claw, capable of producing a loud snapping sound to stun its prey much larger.
Food & Beverage 3
The concession stand is no bigger than what you would find at a high school football stadium. It serves popcorn, nachos, pretzels, chips, candy, Pepsi products, and frozen treats: ice cream, sherbert, and novelty ice cream. The prices range from $3 to $5 apiece.
A few food trucks make up the rest of the food choices behind the main grandstand. Tony’s Butt Shack has a menu consisting of pulled pork sandwiches, hillbilly nachos, loaded mac, and cheese, pulled pork parfait, and hot dogs. A pretzel truck featured long lines of customers ordering plain, cinnamon/sugar and garlic soft pretzels and fresh squeezed lemonade.
A beer garden serves draft and canned beer and cocktails. A few highlights include the official team beer Short Hop Golden Ale, Tangled Roots Sieur De Lager, Miller, and Coors Light, Truly, White Claw, and Twisted Tea. The cocktails include Pistol Punch, High Fly Ball, and Vodka Slushies.
A Pistol Shrimp game is a different experience from most Prospect League games. The stadium looks more like a Division II ballpark, perhaps a little nicer than a few Division I ballparks, and the atmosphere rivals that of a Little League game. The surrounding area features grassy areas and tall corn fields.
The grandstand has seating for 500 fans, while the stadium itself can hold up to 2,000 fans on additional bleachers, standing-room-only areas, and grassy areas where lawn chairs and blankets are encouraged. The plastic theater-style chairs still have the fresh smell of plastic, and the brick backstop adds a nice touch to the stadium.
The PA announcer encourages fans to look in their game program for the lucky number, 50/50 raffle tickets, and player information. Kids run around in groups chasing foul balls or standing next to the fence to get a glimpse of the players. In-between promotions include younger fans dancing, dressing up like Elvis, and answering trivia questions.
The ballpark is not within walking distance of restaurants or lodging but is only a short drive from I-80 or other parts of town. Locals recommend visiting Lou’s La Grotto for pizza, the Uptown Grill for fine dining, the Country House for hearty meals, and Verucchi’s Ristorante for Italian cuisine. Mickey’s Massive Burritos is located in neighboring La Salle and is home to burritos, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, and drinks.
There are many types of fans at a Pistol Shrimp game, including the diehards watching the game from the stands while keeping score, the parents enjoying a night out with friends while their kids run around the stadium, and the younger fans who enjoy a baseball and food with friends.
The ballpark is less than 2 miles south of I-80 at the Plank Road exit. There is ample parking in front of the stadium, and the entrance is in the left-field corner. A bulk of the bathrooms are located in port-a-potties way down the right field line and behind the grandstand. Soon, to be replaced with a further phase of renovations.
Return on Investment 4
Admission to all games is free, and prices for concession foods range between $3-$5, but they are limited. The food truck options are a little higher but much better in quality, from $12-$14. The beer garden offers a range of beer, seltzers, and cocktails between $4 to $6. Merchandise runs $30 for a ball cap and $25 for a t-shirt. The team has a variety of items, but they are limited in size.
The Pistol Shrimp earns a point for offering free admission to all games, having a fun and exciting mascot seen throughout the game, and providing a community-based experience at the ballpark during the summer months of June and July.
The Prospect League has its share of ballpark experience, from former minor league venues to community ballparks. Schweickert Stadium falls somewhere in between as a living structure that should change in the years to come. The fans, free tickets, and small-town setting make it worth a visit somewhere between the stadiums of Rockford, Normal, and Joliet.