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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Shepherd Stadium – Tri-City Chili Peppers


Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Shepherd Stadium 901 Meridian Ave Colonial Heights, VA 23834

Tri-City Chili Peppers website Shepherd Stadium website

Year Opened: 1948 Capacity: 2,000

 

A Real Hot Pepper

Baseball has a long and storied history in the city of Colonial Heights, Virginia. Baseball was played on the site of present-day Shepherd Stadium dating back to at least the 1920s. Although there was no stadium at the time, there was a field with a rickety fence and bleacher seating which played host to a number of recreational teams. In 1948, Mayor Frank R. Shepherd organized the construction of a proper stadium on the site, which would go on to host American Legion baseball, high school baseball, and the Boy’s Invitational Tournament organized by the local Optimist Club.

In 2020, Shepherd Stadium was awarded a franchise in the Coastal Plain League, a collegiate wood-bat summer league with teams in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. The team, known as the Tri-City Chili Peppers in reference to the cities of Colonial Heights, Petersburg, and Hopewell, was unable to begin to play that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but made its much-anticipated debut in 2021 in a newly renovated stadium. The CPL has a history in the Tri-Cities region, with the Petersburg Generals being a member from 2000 to 2016. However, the Chili Peppers bring the league to Colonial Heights for the first time.

Food & Beverage 4

There is one concession stand down the first baseline in a plaza area which offers many options. Classic ballpark fare such as hot dogs and hamburgers is available here, as are more unique items such as barbecue sandwiches, pulled pork nachos, fried pickle chips, and a smoked turkey leg. As a signature item, the team offers a cheeseburger with pimentos and bacon, which comes with a side of fries. For those with a sweet tooth, ice cream from a local manufacturer is available as well. Beer, wine, and hard seltzer are available for those of age. Make sure to pick up a wristband before you order. All prices are fairly reasonable here.

Atmosphere 4

The Chili Peppers do a lot to create an impressive atmosphere at their baseball games. Featuring music, between innings contests, and a chili pepper mascot named Blaze, there is something for everyone here in the Tri-Cities. Kids who arrive early can sign up to participate in the contests themselves by looking for the sign near the entrance to the stadium. The PA announcer manages to be loud and engaging without being over-the-top while the on-field host does a good job of keeping the fans engaged during breaks in the action.

As for the stadium itself, it has been renovated in anticipation of the Chili Peppers’ arrival, and despite being over 70 years old is looking as good as new. All seats are chairbacks and the upper rows are over an overhang, similar to older grandstands in Lynchburg, Hagerstown and elsewhere. However, a plaza has been added down the right field line with a concession stand, team store, and picnic tables for fans to sit at and eat. There is a scoreboard in the outfield which shows the line score, other basic information, and scorekeeping decisions. All in all this is a very nice ballpark with an electric atmosphere for a Chili Peppers game.

Neighborhood 3

Shepherd Stadium is located on a residential street, but if you head out of the ballpark towards The Boulevard (the main street through town) you will find some options. Trapezium Brewing Company is located a short drive away, as are a number of other options serving everything from Italian to soul food to breakfast to a traditional bar and grill. Many of these options are across the Appomattox River in Petersburg, but all are close by.

Fans 5

Although Shepherd Stadium does not typically sell out, the fans who are in attendance are passionate and loud when cheering on the Chili Peppers. Chants and cheers can be heard before and during the game. The Chili Peppers attract fans of all ages, from people old enough to have been watching American Legion ball when this park first opened to families with small children. The fans are part of why a Chili Peppers game has such an impressive atmosphere – the team does a lot, but without the fans, this just wouldn’t be the same.

Access 3

Shepherd Stadium is located just off I-95 via Exit 54. The stadium is then a couple of miles away. There is a small lot located right across the street from the stadium. Once that fills up, Chili Peppers staff will direct you to an appropriate lot, although you may have to park somewhat far away. Once you get inside the stadium, it’s fairly easy to get around. Concession stand lines shouldn’t get too long and there is rarely if ever a line for the restroom. Getting out of the stadium at the end of the game is fairly simple too since people are parked in different places so you don’t have everyone coming out of one lot.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets are $10 for general admission seats which get you anywhere above the first five rows of the stadium. If you want to sit in the first five rows, you will have to buy a multi-game plan or season tickets to get a reserved seat. These are available for a discount if you plan on going to multiple games. Otherwise, stick with the GA tickets. In any case, when combined with the affordable concessions and free parking, a visit to a Chili Peppers game is a great deal.

Extras 4

On hot summer days, the Chili Peppers give out free fans for the fans to cool themselves off (no pun intended.)

There is a team store down the first baseline by the concession stand, a Kids Zone down the third baseline, and a cornhole game down the first baseline as well. All of these deserve their own stars.

Final Thoughts

Although Shepherd Stadium is almost 75 years old, you wouldn’t know it from attending a Chili Peppers game here. The stadium has all the amenities and excitement of a newer stadium. Although the Chili Peppers are one of the newest teams in the Coastal Plain League, they have already built up a group of loyal fans and we hope the experience continues to be this good for years to come.

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