The Corn Crib – Normal CornBelters
Photos by Eric Hasman, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
Corn Crib Stadium 1000 W Raab Rd Normal, IL 617613
Year Opened: 2010
The New Normal
The Corn Crib opened in 2010. The baseball stadium still feels fairly new ten years later and is an intriguing place to watch a game of baseball. The Normal CornBelters share the stadium, which seats 7,000, with Heartland Community College. The Heartland Hawks play both their baseball and soccer on the stadium’s artificial turf surface. This arrangement makes for interesting field placement and a lot of foul ground.
The Normal CornBelters began as a Frontier League team in 2010 but in 2019 moved to the Prospect League. However, due to the coronavirus in 2020 and the Prospect League canceling the season, the CornBelters started the “Kernels Collegiate League.” The “League” consists of mostly local players and includes four teams: the CornBelters, Gems, Bobcats, and Hoots, all playing at the Corn Crib.
The stadium is located near the twin cities of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois which are the home of two universities, Illinois Wesleyan University, and Illinois State University. The stadium’s name is a result of an agreement between the CornBelters and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board.
Food & Beverage 3
The Corn Crib Cafe concession stand has mostly standard food such as hot dogs, bratwurst, hamburger/cheeseburger, chicken strips, nacho, and fries. Then they have some non-standard fare such as BBQ pork, BBQ pulled pork nachos, and corn nuggets. I highly suggest the BBQ pork and corn nuggets, but everything I have had is excellent.
Across from the Corn Crib Café, there is another stand, however, this stand is only for people who buy a special ticket package. I am not sure if this is way all the time or just because of the coronavirus.
Corny’s Sugar Shack sells sweet & frozen treats such as Slushies, ice cream sandwiches, sundae cups, popsicles, and a pickle sickle (frozen pickle juice). Unfortunately, this stand was closed on my visit due to the coronavirus. However, the same items are for sale at the Corn Crib Café.
Huskers Bar features local DESTIHL Brewery beer such as Hawaii or Normal Pils and other craft beers like Goose Island 312 and Shock Top. In addition, they sell buckets (5 – 16 oz bottles beers) of domestic (Budweiser and Miller Lite products) beer for $22 or 16-ounce cans for $5. In addition, the bar has margaritas and mixed drinks, top-shelf mixed drinks, and well-drinks.
The food prices for the amount you get are very reasonable. However, the lines are very long due to there only being two stands open.
The main entrance and ticket office are located in the outfield. An entrance is behind home plate too.
A “corn” theme resonates throughout the stadium. Even the stairs near the office going up to the stadium have corn pictures on them. In addition, usually t, there are a couple of rows of corn in the right center planted in between the player’s clubhouse and their entrance upon the outfield (on this day there was not). The players enter the field of play walking through them, ala a “Field of Dreams.” Though on this day the players did not walk through the “field,” however the managers did.
Seating around the stadium box seats and some bleachers, as well as large amounts of lawn seating in left and right fields. You cannot walk around the whole stadium as behind center field is not accessible. The playing surface itself is an artificial turf surface which many local independent league teams are doing so they can host other events and tut down on rainouts.
The stadium is also used for soccer so there is a very large amount of foul territory as the seats are not close to the baseball field, especially down the first and third baselines. So sitting at the far end of the foul lines you will be a far distance away from the action. The usual scoreboard and video board are beyond the right-centerfield wall. The video board is pretty small and some of the statistics can be hard to read.
On the concourse, one of the women’s room is billed as the “World’s Greatest Restroom.” It is sponsored by a local home improvement vendor so I wish I could see what it looks like. Though, the women I talked to didn’t say it was the “greatest.”
About two years ago, an awning was added behind home plate that provides more shade and covering than the ballpark had when it originally opened. The kid's play area, which is located down the third baseline on the concourse, features a few inflatables and is free of charge.
The stadium is located in Normal which is the home of Illinois State University and near Illinois Wesleyan University, so there are plenty of “college bars” and fast food places. However, the college is located about one mile south of the stadium on Main Street. Surrounding the Corn Crib is Heartland Community College, a trailer park, and a golf course with some retail businesses.
The City of Normal has an “upscale” area which is nice where there are plenty of food choices and shopping. If you do decide to go into town for food or drinks, you need to go to tub II and/or Maggie Miley’s which are good bars with excellent food. Elroy’s (a sports bar) and Maguire’s Bar & Grill are good places for a drink. One local favorite restaurant is Monical’s Pizza of Normal. An interesting fact is that Monical’s is in the first Steak ‘N Shake location.
Like in other Prospect League stadiums, the fans are mostly families looking for a cheap night out or people who go out to socialize. The diehard fans sit right behind the plate and are knowledgeable about their team. Most everywhere else in the stadium, you see the more casual fan.
The CornBelters left the Frontier League and joined the Prospect League due to attendance/cost issues. Being in the Prospect League makes it easier for the CornBelters to make money or break even. They are still hoping that attendance increases after the virus scare is over.
The CornBelters have numerous promotional nights, such as 10¢ hot dogs or family days, etc…. but the fireworks nights or a popular giveaway item, like a bobblehead, usually gets a good attendance bump.
The stadium is very easy to get to. It is about ½ mile south of the intersection of I-55 and Business 51 off of Raab Rd. The ballpark is small, simple, and easy to move around. The crowds never get too busy, unless for promotional nights or fireworks. The bathrooms and exits are marked clearly for all customers.
Return on Investment 4
Last year (2019) the tickets for the ornBelters game began at $5 for lawn seats, $8 for reserved bleacher seating, and $10 for reserved box seats and parking was $2. However, this year (2020), due to the coronavirus, tickets are either $5, $7, or $10 depending on the game and there is no charge for parking. The concession stand prices for food and beer are also inexpensive. A night at “The Crib” won’t break the bank and is kind to your wallet.
The mascot, Corny, once again adds to the corn theme and is very accessible during the game. Kids, of course, love his antics and getting their pictures taken with him, as do many adults.
The corn theme is carried throughout the ballpark. From the corn stalks outside the ballpark, the pictures on the stairs, and in center field to the random corn facts posted throughout the concourse to the old farming equipment on display.
The CornBelters have a “Not Forgotten” seat to honor the men and women lost protecting our country while in military service behind home plate. This is a nice way to honor those who served.
The Corn Crib is a nice stadium and with the large foul ground kinda unusual. It is a place that I would recommend seeing but don’t count on getting a foul ball.