- Eric Hasman
Duly Health and Care Field – Joliet Slammers
Photos by Eric Hasman, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29
Duly Health and Care Field 1 Mayor Art Schultz Dr Joliet, IL 60432
Joliet Slammers website Duly Health and Care Field website
Year Opened: 2002 Capacity: 6,016
A Name to Call Home in Joliet
The Joliet Slammers are members of the Frontier League and play at Duly Health and Care Field (formerly DuPage Medical Group Field, Joliet Route 66 Field, Slammers Field, and Silver Cross Field. The name refers to the famous prisons of Joliet and Will County (Joliet Correctional Center and Statesville Correctional Center) as well as a common baseball term for a grand slam. The team even employed a logo of a jailbird donning prison stripes as its mascot.
The stadium was built for the Joliet JackHammers which played in the former Northern League from 2002 to 2010. The franchise was put up for sale and Steel City Baseball, LLC, bought out all assets and folded the franchise. The stadium would soon get a new franchise, the Joliet Slammers for the 2011 season in the Frontier League. They would go on to remain at the stadium winning the 2011 and 2019 Frontier League championships
In 2018 the Slammers replaced the natural grass with field turf. The field dimensions are 348 feet to left field, 400 feet to center field and 327 feet to right field. At one time, a sand box was located in right field that protruded into the playing field, but was removed in 2018. The wraparound concourse features a collection of benches, trees, stand-alone concession stands, and even a playground beyond the center field batter's eye, making it one of the largest independent ballparks in the Chicagoland.
Food & Beverage 5
The food stands have names based upon Joliet and baseball: Crossroads Grill, Sweet Spot and Steel City Grill. There is the usual ballpark fare of nachos, hot dogs ($5.50), Polish sausage ($7), bratwurst ($6.50), burgers ($6.50), Italian beef ($9), pizza slices ($5.50) which is a very good, ice cream ($5), soft pretzels ($5) and funnel cake ($5).
However, there are other options like the BBQ Pulled Pork or Loaded BBQ Pulled Pork Fries ($7) which I recommend. The finger foods include pork cheese fries, fried cheese curds ($5.50). For your sweet tooth, the concessions include chocolate caramel pretzels, bread pudding, and rolled cheesecake wrapped in a waffle cone.
The food items are reasonably priced, nothing exceeding more than $8. The giardiniera and barbecue pork nachos are highly recommended and tasty. The lines at the food concessions move quickly. The condiment selection here is the basic: ketchup, mustard, onions, and relish and sadly they are in packets. One thing nice is that when you buy a souvenir cup of soda for $9, refills are $3.
Many varieties of beer are on tap: Budweiser, Corona, Shock Top, Michelob Ultra, Coors and Sam Adams. A 20-ounce draft beer is $7 (domestic) or $9 (premium), 16-ounce cans are $6, and 24-ounce beer cans are $9. A main bar behind home plate provides excellent views from behind the backstop and a friendly wait staff. The area is home to at least 12 different canned craft beers and some tap craft beer from a local brewery. In addition, there are Moonshine based cocktails for $8 (these are excellent) and wine for $7.
Entering the ballpark, fans must walk up a flight of stairs to get to the concourse which overlooks the field. The stadium has two levels: the main concourse and a level of skyboxes above. The stadium features a 360-degree concourse that links to a very large play area behind center field. The main seating area runs from first to third base and there are approximately 20 rows of seating.
In addition, two lawn areas are down the right and left field lines. There are no permanent outfield seats, but there is a chair rail along the left field wall. There is a concession building, which is not open this season (2021), in the left field with rooftop seating that is open to everyone on most games but occasionally will be rented out for parties. The rooftop area is a great place to watch the game for a while. Lastly, in right field, there is a standing area complete with a rail for beverages and/or food.
The Slammers have two mascots Spike (a dog) and J. L. Bird (a crow in a prison outfit). Both are found throughout the stadium and on the field during the game. J. L. Bird was even featured on ESPN during his first season with the club.
The team store cleverly called the “Clink,” is large, but lacks a healthy selection of team products (shirts, hats, etc). The between inning entertainment is the usual minor league stuff–throwing t-shirts, high low, a few kid races.
Sadly, this year (2021) due to a big storm, a sculpture of construction guys sitting on an I-beam eating and watching the game was taken down from the building down the right field line on an adjoining building. Hopefully, it will be back next year.
The ballpark is located in downtown Joliet. Several businesses are located to the north and west of the park, along with a high school to the east of the park. There is some residential housing to the south of the park.
There are a lot of small independent restaurants and bars within the vicinity, The Chevere Latin Café and the Blue Taco are excellent places with really good food. Also, the Chicago Street Pub has the best Reuben in town and juicy burgers. The Shoebox is piled with BBQ ham, American cheese, tomato and red onion on a Milano bun.
Beer lovers should head to Elder Brewing, which is a block north behind left center, for great craft beers and live music or you can go to MyGrain Brewing Company which is about ½ block from the park. After the game, there is good Live music at The Forge, which is a few blocks from the ballpark. Right outside the right field side of the park, there is a gay bar Maneuvers (it is closed now but according to neighbors it should be opening again soon), which some straight people go.
In addition, Harrah’s Casino and the historic Rialto Theater are within a couple of blocks of downtown. The Rialto books mid-level acts, plays, and various musicals during the season.
Other things to do in the area is as follows: the Joliet Area Historical Museum for history of the city and region and Route 66. The Illinois Rock and Roll Museum on Rt. 66 (opens 2022) located at 9 E. Cass is about a mile from the park and offers a history of musicians and bands with ties to Illinois. For you artsy people there is Sue Regis Glass Art (32 W. Clinton St.) - make appointments to make your own pendants and Memorial pendants, rubbing stones, etc. and the Strange and Unusual Gallery. Lastly, about three miles from the park at 1125 Collins St, Joliet is the world-famous Old Joliet Prison (featured in the Blues Brothers movie) which was built in 1858, offers tours for $20 for adults.
The fans in attendance are very friendly. The Slammers attendance is anywhere between 1,600 to 2,000 per game, but the mix of fans is the same as any other ballpark, lots of families, people who are really into baseball and people who just like to hang out and catch up.
The park is located in downtown Joliet. It is not hard to get to since it is about one mile north of I-80. There are many ways to get to the ballpark. The Joliet Transportation Center, serving two Metra lines, is right outside the stadium. There are also bus lines near the stadium. Plenty of parking surrounds the stadium and it is free. It is not recommended to park on the adjoining street on the south side of the stadium because there are many foul balls hit into car windows.
Return on Investment 5
The price of a regular ticket ranges $8 for lawn seats to $12 for reserved seating (tickets are $2 more on game day at the gate). On Tuesdays, there are tickets available for $2. There is a “Picnic” ticket which includes a game ticket and a 90 minute all you can eat buffet for $27.76. The Left Field Rooftop for a pre-game picnic can be rented out for $26.46 which includes some food and soda for 90 minutes after the first pitch. The suites can be rented for $15 per person on the weekday and $25 on the weekend (food and soda are extra).
There is a firehouse across the street in left field which has 560’ painted on it. Yes, if a home run hits the firehouse it would have traveled 560’. Also, there is a small field for physically challenged people. Occasionally, I have seen kids using the field.
A guy dressed in a tuxedo entertains the crowd by juggling and interacting with the fans at most games. In addition, he comes around with a garbage bag and picks up garbage with a pair of tongs. And in Section 110 in the last row there is a Joliet Slammers superfan/historian, Craig, who is known by the name of “Mr. Downtown Joliet.” If you need to know something about downtown Joliet this is the man to go to.
The Slammers have a “first hit of the inning batter” which is if the first hitter of the inning gets a hit, beer is half priced. A fun feature that has the fans in the stands really rooting for a hit; it can get really loud.
Duly Health and Care Field has a surprisingly lot of pros to make it one of the best ballparks in the Chicagoland area. It offers a wraparound concourse, creative food options, cheap prices, a healthy selection of craft beers, and an active surrounding neighborhood to make it well worth your while to visit.