Sportpark Kijkduin-Schapenatjesduin - Silicon Storks
Photos by Michael Rusignuolo, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Sportpark Kijkduin-Schapenatjesduin 9, Schapenatjesduin Den, 2554 BW Den Haag, Netherlands
Year Opened: 1975 Capacity: 1,000
Baseball has surprisingly old roots in The Netherlands, but the trauma and want of WWII and the immediate post-war years mostly killed the sport until the Marshall Plan brought relief to the continent and helped revive dormant interests such as baseball, allowing the founding of many new clubs in the early 1950s. The capitol of the country got on board with this post-war trend, and the Storks Sporting Club was founded in early 1952.
The 50s saw a boom in interest in the club that grew it from the original twelve members into three divisions of teams. Bouncing between the top Honkbal Hoofdklasse and lower levels, the Storks finally clawed their way back to the top level in 2018, though they still struggle against the more established competition.
The team moved around a lot during its history, from sharing football club fields in the fifties, to open fields, before eventually ending up at Sportpark Kijkduin-Schapenatjesduin in 1975, once called “the most beautiful baseball and softball field in the Netherlands.” While that title has surely passed it by, the sportpark is still located in a lovely stretch of parkland.
Sportpark Kijkduin-Schapenatjesduin definitely has a scenic location and one of the most interesting locales for all of Honkbal Hoofdklasse.It is also easy to get to and covers all the other stadium basics quite well.
[All prices are in Euros. At the time of writing, one Euro is worth about $1.15.]
Food & Beverage 3
As with nearly all the clubs in Honkbal Hoofdklasse, all the concessions are handled through the team’s clubhouse, where a bar and grill or perhaps a bar and other small kiosk will dole out the food and drink. The difference is usually in the selection, and the Stork’s pub grub menu is about par for the course.
There’s a modest selection of grub to be had at excellent prices. Of course, there are various incarnation of frites (€2.15 and under), as well as Dutch broodjes sandwiches (€2.10 and under), tosti sandwiches (€1.70 and under), and Dutch bittergarnituur (fried meatballs — €2.75, €4.25, or €10 for 8, 16, or 40 pieces).
If you want to get your drink on, there’s wine (€1.80), Jillz (a Dutch cider, €1.75), and Dutch beer Hertog Jans (€1.85 each, or a case of 24 for €36). Yes, that’s right: If the cheap prices aren’t enough, you can buy your beer by the *case*. The lack of selection is made up for by cheapness and volume. Coca-Cola is the non-alcoholic drink family of the team.
Although a case of beer might be tempting, try out the Jillz cider for a new taste to explore. You obviously have to get some frites (try the Dutch traditional mayo), and maybe give the local bittergarnituur a taste? Popping these fried appetizers while watching the game is surprisingly addictive.
Sportpark Kijkduin-Schapenatjesduin is a baseball and softball-only facility nestled in a scenic little park, overlooked by a wooded hill next to the park. Although there apparently was a bit of a rabbit problem when the park first opened, the bucolic setting is now seemingly rabbit-free.
While the setting is serene, you won’t mistake it for anything more than a Rookie-league park in America. Several fields are right next to each other, and most of the walls and structures are made from chain-link fences. The team clubhouse is located by the park entrance, a good deal away from the main field, a departure from most Honkbal Hoofdklasse parks. The main seating area behind home plate is four rows of benches on stone steps, mostly underneath the shade of the trees on the hill behind the park. The dugouts are on the outside of the fences, and a small, separate trailer on the first base side of home plate houses the announcer’s booth.
A small digital scoreboard just records the score, balls, strikes, outs, and inning in right-center field. Trees rise above the chain-link outfield wall in an unbroken line. Smoking is very much still a thing in the otherwise progressive Netherlands, and there are several picnic tables in the area in front of the clubhouse with ash trays built in to accommodate them. There is also a small play area near the tables, so make of that what you will.
Here is an important bit of information: Sportpark Kijkduin-Schapenatjesduin does *not* have lights. While this does not affect the afternoon games on the weekend that start at 2 PM, this does affect the Thursday night games that start at 7:30 PM. Even if the Storks are scheduled for a home game, they will *not* be playing at Sportpark Kijkduin-Schapenatjesduin. They either will be the home team at an opponent’s field or play at other fields beside this one. So be alert if you’re visiting on a Thursday.
As is the case in most Honkbal Hoofdklasse games, there are no mascots or between-innings entertainment that permeate all levels of US baseball. You get in-stadium PA announcements, batter walk-up music, and the Seventh Inning Stretch, period. Since this is a step up from club ball, however, there are some nice vestiges of sportsmanship. Each batter coming to the plate for the first time usually shakes the hand of the umpire and the opposing catcher.
Sportpark Kijkduin-Schapenatjesduin is located very close to the coast and the beaches it houses. While there is even more to do in the city center of The Hague, unlike many of the other parks in Honkbal Hoofdklasse, there is a lot to do and see.
There are a good selection of restaurants close to the stadium. The upscale Meer en Bosch Tavern is to the east at Park Meer en Bos, not far from Bistro Borracho. Just to the north overlooking the beach, there are a clutch of multicultural restaurants, including Italian La Tourterelle B.V., Mexican Chicoleo, Turkish Marmaris, Greek Restaurant Apollo, and American Restaurant Hudson Kijkduin. Further west is foodie haven Suiderstrand.
A short walk from the park is most obviously, the beach. There are several resorts and pavilions in the Kijkduin locale offering a wide selection of beach entertainment, including a nearby parasailing school. If you’ve had your fill of the beach, the Park Meer En Boos is close to the ballpark, complete with a bird sanctuary in addition to its arboreal charms. And just to the north is the beginning of the massive Westduinpark, a nature sanctuary that also houses some WWII historical sites.
The shore-adjacent location means there are several hotels in the area, but perhaps not as many as you’d expect. The upscale Hotel NH Atlantaic Den Haag is the closest to the park, very close to the Foundation Beach Resort Kijkduin. Holiday house rental Haags Duinhuis are to the south, and the Bed and Breakfast at the Beach is further to the north, as is B&B Ereprijs.
Baseball (or honkbal, as it is known locally) is very much a fringe sport in The Netherlands, and for all of Europe for that matter. The Dutch Honkbal Hoofdklasse is one of the only semipro/professional leagues on the continent, sharing the distinction with the Italian Baseball League.
The Storks are newly back in the top-level Honkbal Hoofdklasse and seem to draw on the low-end of average Dutch baseball crowds (between 100-250 people per game). After games and practices at the surrounding fields end, the players and spectators come over to watch the top-level men play their games. Another out-of-the-ordinary status quo is that there are usually pet dogs at every game. It is a welcome change for dog lovers, less so if you don’t like them.
Local and visiting fans make up the crowd, and the crowd seems invested, even if their team’s fortunes aren’t the brightest right now.
Sportpark Kijkduin-Schapenatjesduin is accessible by mass transit from The Hague and by transfer from nearby Rotterdam, and it is easy to navigate once you get there.
The only mass transit to the park from the city center is a rather painless half-hour bus trip. From The Hague Central, the HTMbuzz Stadbus 24 will take you to Kijkduinsestraat, Den Haag (€2.55), a short walk from the ballpark. Driving, cab, or ride share will set you about a little over 20 minutes from the city center, if you were so inclined. The Hague is extremely close to Rotterdam, and it is only a half-hour drive from there to the ballpark.
There is a small parking lot by the ballpark, and there is plenty of free bicycle parking. Cabs and ride shares can drop you off right at the park entrance.
There is one entrance to the facility through the main gate. This is the only choke point in the entire park, as it opens out onto wide-open pathways in the fields that reach to all the different fields in the complex.
Return on Investment 5
There’s no charge to get into the park, so you can’t really argue with that. Drinks (even beer) are all under €2, and food is mostly under €2.75 except for some truly large amounts of bittergarnituur. How can you argue with these prices?
As with all the Dutch stadiums, extras are at a minimum. The clubhouse has a selection of baseball memorabilia, as well as club trophies and awards. There are two memorials: a retired number of Win Remmerswall (49) on the clubhouse, and the terrace outside the clubhouse is dedicated to Ed Lakwijk.
As Dutch clubhouse personnel are almost all volunteers, they are polite and helpful to a person and are always glad to talk to and assist visitors.
In one of the better and easier-to-reach locations in all of Honkbal Hoofdklasse, Sportpark Kijkduin-Schapenatjesduin hits all the basics well, even if the physical facility won’t turn your head.