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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Thomas More Stadium – Florence Y’alls


Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

Thomas More Field 7950 Freedom Way Florence, KY 41042

Year Opened: 2004 Capacity: 4,500

 

Welcome to Florence Y'all!

The Florence Y'alls of the independent Frontier League was known as the Florence Freedom from 2003 to 2019 before new ownership sought a new nickname through an online fan vote - the winner was the Florence Y'alls, but why?


Florence is known for its red and white candy-striped water tower that reads “Florence Y'all.” The popular sign has been a fixture since 1974 when it originally read Florence Mall, due to concerns about it being an advertisement for the mall, the town’s mayor simply repainted the M to give the town its popular catchphrase. The phrase is so popular that when Florence hosted the All-Star Game in 2016 it was renamed the Y’All-Star Game.


The club plays its home games at the 4,200-seat Thomas More Stadium--formerly known as Champion Window Field-- located off I-71/75 in Florence, Kentucky. The ballpark opened in 2004 during the team's second season (Foundation Field in Hamilton, Ohio, served as the club’s temporary home the year before) and has been offering fans of the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area an alternative to Major League Baseball.


Florence, Kentucky became the home to minor league baseball for the first time in 2003 when it joined the Frontier League. The next season it debuted at Thomas More Stadium, a 4,200-seat ballpark directly off I-75. The Florence Freedom provided an alternative to baseball in Cincinnati just a short 20-minute drive up the road.


The ballpark is within Cincinnati Reds territory and one of the many Frontier League franchises to be within a major league ball club’s foothold. In an area dominated by the Reds, can the Freedom be successful at the gate in one of the country’s more historic baseball cities?


Food & Beverage 5

The concession items follow a local flare with several Cincinnati regional favorites predominantly featured on the menu boards. Snappy Tomato Pizza, Gold Star Chili, Montgomery Inn, and Glier’s Goetta are among many of the local brands found inside the facility.


Gold Star cheese coneys sell for $3 and are covered with Cincinnati-style chili and mounds of shredded cheddar cheese. There is also Glier’s Goetta sliders that sell for two for $5; goetta is a mixture of meat scraps and oats that is fried and usually served for breakfast in the region--similar to scrapple, but at the ballpark is also served over nachos.


Montgomery Inn is known for its barbecue ribs, but fans can choose from pork sliders, a giant pork sandwich, and pulled pork nachos slathered in the restaurant's signature barbecue sauce. You can even enjoy the pulled pork covered over Saratoga chips and queso blanco for $12.


The regional feel is also felt with triple play nachos. Fans can pick their chips (Fritos, Doritos, and Tostitos) and have them topped with goetta, taco meat, pulled pork, and Cincinnati-style chili, followed by traditional fixings of lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and jalapenos.


The beer also has a local flavor with 16 and 20-ounce drafts of Christian Moerlein varieties from OTR to Strawberry Pig Cream Ale. They even taste better with locally made meat or hot meat for $7.50.


However, fans can enjoy typical ballpark food of hot dogs for $3.25, hamburgers for $4.50, ballpark nachos for $4.50, and chicken strips for $5. If you have a sweet tooth, there are funnel cakes, salted caramel pretzels a la mode, and root beer floats.


Atmosphere 3

The ballpark features a spacious concourse that does not wrap around the building. The fold-down chair seating is colored red, blue, and yellow (which were the same color combination used at the former home of the Cincinnati Reds Riverfront Stadium) and provides a nice look compared to the normal ballpark seat colors of forest green or navy blue.


The souvenir shop is ample and features Freedom caps for $18 (a bargain compared to other teams) and a few creative t-shirts and specialty jerseys. There is also a stage in the left field area that is home to concerts and other events when the club is out of town.


The staff for Freedom most likely will bend over backward to appease certain vendors and crowds at the stadium. Another friendly person is Y’All Star who made his debut as the team’s mascot in 2016. The replica of the town’s water tower has been a fixture at the ballpark ever since his first year.


The ballpark is set up to be very kid-friendly. Their kid zone could entertain the little ones for hours with a jungle gym, bouncy house ($5 extra), and pitch and strike zones. They even have playground rubber mulch to protect any bumps or bruises.


Neighborhood 3

Florence is a suburb of Cincinnati and is surrounded by other small Kentucky towns. The stadium is located off of 1-71/75 and near chain restaurants, the Florence Mall retail outlets, and residential homes. Downtown Cincinnati is located 12 miles to the north and so is Newport on the Levee, where there is a little more action.


I enjoy traveling north into Cincinnati and having dinner at BrewRiver GastroPub (2062 Riverside Dr) or the equally delicious Pompilios (600 Washington Ave.) in Newport, Kentucky, for Italian cuisine. Smokin' This and That BBQ was voted the best barbecue in Northern Kentucky. The BBQ spot features pulled pork, brisket, and ribs and adds them to other dishes to create barbecue tacos, sandwiches, loaded hot tots, and parfait.


If you want traditional double-decker sandwiches, the Sub Station II across the street from the ballpark in Florence offers up a few tasty combinations. You also may be able to locate many famous area chili parlors with both Gold Star and Skyline located in various locations in the metropolitan area.


If you are lucky, you can take in a game at Great American Ballpark, but when in Cincinnati visit Jungle Jim's International Market - the Disneyland of supermarkets; they have everything from imported cheeses, fine cigars, craft beers, bourbons, produce, and food products from hot sauces, candies, and spices from around the world. Other destination points in Cincinnati include the Carew Tower for views of the city, and the Cincinnati Museum at Union Station, and you can even take a self-guided tour where Crosley Field once stood near the museum.

Fans 3

The Freedom has been averaging close to 2,500 fans per game during the 2018 season. With the tasty food options, cheap tickets, free parking, and easy access this is a gem of a ballpark experience that residents in the Cincinnati area should be visiting in greater numbers.


Access 5

UC Health Stadium is adjacent to I-71/75 and visible from both north and southbound lanes of the interstate. A quick exit and a right turn on Freedom Lane will place you inside the stadium's parking lot. There is no need to pull out your wallet or reach into your purse since parking is free and that is the way it should be across all ballparks.


Return on Investment 4

Ticket prices range from $9, $12, and $14 for home games in advance; the price goes up to $12, $14, and $16 the day of the game. Freedom also provides a few promotions that include Thirsty Thursdays, Guaranteed Winning Wednesdays (if the team loses, fans can come back for free), Firework Fridays, and Family Fun Sundays.


The Freedom does not charge to park for games and concession prices are reasonable for independent baseball. Overall, the return on investment falls in line with other Frontier League cities and ballparks.


Extras 4

The team scores extra points for the local beers: Hudy Delight, Christian Moerlein, and Hudepohl Amber, and the local food: Skyline Chili, goetta, Queen City Sausage, and Montgomery Inn barbecue ribs.

The team gets another point for the color scheme of the seats which is a nod to the former home of the Cincinnati Reds, Riverfront Stadium. The color pattern adds a distinctive touch to the modern ballpark.

The third point is the free parking.


A final point is for the stadium to be peanut-free. I know this is sacrilegious to the game of baseball, but some customers--like my nephew--have severe peanut allergies. UC Health Stadium does not serve bagged peanuts to be an allergy-friendly stadium and avoid the peanut dust that can be dangerous to those with peanut allergies. At this time, it is the only known stadium to be peanut-friendly all year round.


Final Thoughts

Thomas More Stadium is a small stadium that packs in a big punch. It is a simple facility that makes up for it by getting base hits with free parking, local food variety, affordable prices, and a positive attitude. The use of the water tower and the phrase "Florence Y'all" is awesomely fun. If the Reds are not in town, take the short drive and watch the team play.


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Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel. Email at Marc.Viquez@stadiumjourney.com

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