- James Hilchen
Veterans Memorial Stadium – Cedar Rapids Kernels
Photos by James Hilcheb Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Veterans Memorial Stadium
950 Rockford Road SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
Veterans Memorial Stadium website
Year Opened: 2002
Cedar Rapids Kernels
Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, opened in 2002. The current stadium replaced the original Veterans Memorial Stadium, now the parking lot, which opened in 1949 and closed in 2001. Cedar Rapids has a rich baseball history that began in the late 19th century. After a seven-year hiatus due to World War II, baseball returned to Cedar Rapids in 1949 and has been played there ever since.
The original Veterans Memorial Stadium hosted many different teams in different leagues throughout the 1940s and 1950s. In 1962, the original stadium became home to a Midwest League team and has been affiliated with the league ever since, although under different names. The Kernels have played in Cedar Rapids since 1993. In 2013, the Kernels became a single-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins after having spent 20 seasons as an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In 2016, the stadium played host to the Midwest League All-Star Game.
With realignment occurring before the 2021 season, the Kernels moved from being the low-A affiliate to the high-A affiliate of the Twins. After minor league contraction, the Kernels are one of three remaining minor league teams in Iowa along with the Quad Cities River Bandits and the Iowa Cubs.
Food & Beverage 3
Nothing jumps out at you as being very unique, but there are plenty of food options. Options include a nacho helmet ($8.75) tenderloin sandwiches ($8), hot dogs ($3.50), waffle fries, pretzels, etc. Ice cream is a good choice, especially on hot days, with prices between $3.50 and $5.50 depending on several scoops.
The best bet is the Hot Corner Grill located down the third baseline. Here you have options of numerous sized burgers, a turkey burger, pulled pork, cheesesteak, and a ribeye sandwich. Prices range from $8-$13 depending on your order. They also give a litany of different topping choices. On select games, there are BBQ and Mexican carts open on the concourse. For beverages, Pepsi products are the featured soda ($3.50 bottles) along with water ($3) and sports drinks ($3.50).
Beer on tap is separated by regular and premium. Regular includes Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, and Budweiser. Domestic tallboys come in 16, 20, and 32-ounce sizes and range in price from $5.50 to $9.50 with craft/specialty draft $1 more. Wine and mixed drinks are also available.
The majority of the seating is traditional stadium-type seating. The seats are comfortably sized and have cup holders. It doesn’t much matter where you sit in sections 104-118. All the seats have a great view of the field. If your preference is to stay out of the sun, your best bet is the back rows of club seating, especially behind home plate and the third-base dugout. These areas also give you a good view of the scoreboard, which is beyond the right-field wall. Down the right-field line, sections 100-103, are plaza seating. These are metal bleachers and are not particularly comfortable. It’s well worth the extra dollar to go with club seats.
The concourse is easy to maneuver and although you have a clear view of the field while standing in line for concessions, there are TVs throughout the concourse with a live feed of the game. A particularly nice feature is the standing tables that line the concourse. If you’d rather stand while eating your food, this is a great option without missing a single pitch.
In the left-field corner, there is a play area for kids. It’s kind of tucked away behind a concessions area, which makes it difficult for parents to watch both their kids and the game at the same time, but still a nice option.
Veterans Memorial is situated in a complex style setting along with the Cedar Rapids Ice Arena, home to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL, a multi-purpose high school stadium, a small tennis complex, and a park. The stadium is located in the Kingston district, in southwest Cedar Rapids. This area of town is home to a mix of industrial and residential sections. As such, entertainment venues, bars, and restaurants are hard to come by, but there are a few good options.
Directly across the street is the Stadium Lounge. While not the flashiest place around, the traditional bar-style food is good, drinks are reasonably priced, and the employees are pleasant. Try the broasted chicken.
A great selection is the Irish Democrat Pub & Grille. About four miles away from the ballpark, the Irish Democrat offers up some great food and plenty of beer options. Just across the river is Bricks Bar & Grill. Bricks offer up a fun atmosphere along with good food and about 60 beers to choose from. Another fun option is the Flying Wienie. They serve all sorts of hot dog combinations. You are out of luck if you go to a game on Sunday…they are closed.
If staying in Cedar Rapids, you have the choice of lodging with a cluster of hotels a couple of miles south of the stadium, just off I-380. The Holiday Inn Express is a nice spot, with decent prices, and clean rooms.
While Cedar Rapids isn’t the biggest city around, the thing that stuck with me was that everyone seemed to know everyone else, like people were coming to the ballpark with their summer families. It is a refreshing experience and makes for a great time. The fans are quite pleasant, follow along with the game, get loud when the game dictates, and generally enjoy themselves.
Veterans Memorial Stadium is located about a mile away from I-380 and is easy to find. Upon arriving, there is plenty of parking, which is all free. Once inside, the concourse is wide and getting around the stadium is very easy. The restrooms are clean and sufficient for the amount of fans that generally attend the games. Getting in and out of the stadium is easy and the vast majority of concessions are situated so you won’t miss any of the game if you are standing in a line. Plenty of handicapped seating is available.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets are priced anywhere from $10-$15. With parking being free and the concessions around what you would pay elsewhere, a trip to Veterans Memorial Stadium is a good value and an enjoyable time.
Before, or after the game, a visit to the Linn County All Veterans Memorial is a must. It is located just outside the stadium and is a very well done tribute to the local men and women who served the United States.
Photo by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey
As a nod to their affiliation with the Minnesota Twins, a prominent sign in left field displays the retired numbers of all the Twins (along with Jackie Robinson’s #42). There is also a nice tribute to pitcher Nick Adenhart, a former Kernel, who went on to pitch for the Angels, but was killed by a drunk driver.
Inside the Diamond Store (team store), is a room that houses the Cedar Rapids Baseball Hall of Fame. This is a must see if you are interested in the history of baseball in this city. On the wall are pictures and bios of those in the Hall. Display cases house old documents, uniforms, bats, balls, and autographs of some of the players that spent a portion of their careers in Cedar Rapids. The team offers free tours of the suite level, which has a great timeline of the history of baseball in Cedar Rapids.
The outfield wall has some unique dimensions at Veterans Memorial Park. Down the line measures 315 feet. The wall enters the playing area and about fifteen to twenty feet in, goes back at an angle, and then straightens out again. This is a unique feature that makes for some interesting bounces when the ball goes off the wall. The left field gap is deep and a batter would really have to step on one to get it out of the park there, at a distance of 407 feet.
A special mention to the staff at the ballpark. They are very friendly and will point you in the right direction of whatever you need.
Veterans Memorial Stadium isn’t anything fancy, but it provides everything you need to enjoy a fun baseball experience. If you are a ballpark fanatic, don’t sleep on this one.