|When I first stopped by Elfstrom Stadium (its original name) to snap some photos in 2001, I was not impressed. There was a strong odor of rotting trash (due to the nearby landfill) and it had a rather unfinished feel to it because of the lack of a second deck. But upon my return here to see a game in 2009, I was more impressed. Certainly the $10 million renovation that was undertaken after the '08 season has given this ballpark a much nicer feel. These renovations mostly consisted of adding the second deck, which includes luxury boxes and other premium seating. Also included was the building of a new structure behind home plate for offices and ticket windows. Kane County, located about 30 miles west of Chicago, has never had a problem drawing fans, and I'm sure these renovations will only help further. The exterior of the park is still a bit on the bland side, but inside it is more lively. With the second deck, Elfstrom Stadium now compares favorably to other new parks. The concourse overlooks the playing field, but unfortunately does not wrap all the way around the field. The outfield consists of numerous group picnic areas (some of which are not in view of the field), so really the concourse just goes from foul line to foul line. It is a bit tight in spots and they have some annoying nets setup, apparently to protect fans who are on the concourse and not paying attention. Despite the $10 million in renovations, there is still additional work that needs to be done. The seating (which consists of red fold downs and metal bleachers) is vintage 1991 and should probably be replaced. Also, the scoreboard in left field doesn't work at all, which means there is no line score. The team uses auxiliary scoreboards in center field and right field to post the count and score. The seating is a bit cramped, but sightlines are good from most locations. Concessions at Elfstrom Stadium are definitely some of the best you'll find at a minor league park. The selection of food options is great and the quality is outstanding. Everything from Italian beef (a Chicago favorite) to brats to BBQ to Mexican is available here. On the flip side, the atmosphere here was not to my liking. The sound effects are too frequent and are the same ones heard in numerous other minor league parks. Also there is too much other nonsense, like the team constantly throwing junk into the crowd. I will never understand why fans get so excited over some of the stuff that is given away. There are several between inning contests including Fish or No Fish, the mascot race, and the pedal race. At least the contests seemed somewhat unique. The Cougars also have a mascot named Ozzie. It's hard to argue with the success the Cougars have had since arriving in the area in 1991. But for a baseball fan like me, I can't rank Elfstrom Stadium that high on my list. The atmosphere is a bit on the annoying side and the broken scoreboard is just inexcusable. The renovations are nice, but more could be done to upgrade amenities for the average fan (of which I'm one). A decent enough place to see a game, but not a park I can recommend highly at this point.