|Four Winds Field (originally known as Coveleski Stadium, or “The Cove”) is an early rendition of the standard template that has been used by nearly every new ballpark built since 1990. Along with Buffalo's Coca-Cola Field, it put into motion the trend of building new ballparks for minor league teams. While this can be viewed as a mixed blessing due to many old parks being destroyed, overall it has been a positive for minor league baseball. Upon my first visit here in 2003, I came away unimpressed as the ballpark did not seem to be aging well and the atmosphere was sterile. I visited again in 2016 and was blown away by how different the ballpark felt. Numerous renovations have made the ballpark feel brand new again.
- A full wraparound concourse was added as a part of the recent renovations. It is hard to imagine the park without now as it makes it much more spacious than it had been.
- The team store in left field is located in what was once a synagogue. This is one of the most unique and creative features you will find at any minor league ballpark.
- “Rooftop” seats are located behind the fence in right field, attached to a building known as the “Performance Center”.
- The kid’s fun zone is one of the biggest you’ll find anywhere. It features multiple bounce houses and other activities for kids. Unfortunately, there is a rather steep cost ($6) for kids to enjoy it.
- A splashpad and playground are located in the right field corner (these are free of charge). While the splashpad is a neat and unique idea, the team needs to use common sense as to when it should be turned off. On cool evenings (like the one I attended), it is annoying to have to walk by it and get splashed.
- Berms in left field and right field can accommodate the overflow crowds that they seem to draw on popular nights.
- The backdrop behind the first base line is pretty cool as it features the old Union Station building as well as another large warehouse/factory building (which seems to be abandoned).
- Seats, which were looking very worn when I visited in 2003, have been completely replaced with brand new green fold downs. The metal bleachers that comprised much of the seating were also replaced with real seats.
- Behind the left field fence is a large bar seating area.
- A beautiful new entrance was added in center field. It features a nice statue of Stan Coveleski, who the ballpark was originally named after. This entrance is very convenient to the bulk of the parking, so is the one which most fans use.
- A large video board was also added during the most recent renovations.
- The open air suites that have been added along the concourse are neat, but they defeat the purpose of having fans be able to see the action while walking around.
- The behavior of the mascots was rude at times. Before the game, one was seeing climbing on the trash cans outside the park. And inside, they were seen running through the concourses ignoring kids.
- Parking is a bit expensive ($5) for a single-A team.
- The number of group areas is excessive for the amount of room they have in the park. On the night I was there, they seemed to just invent “picnic” areas which consumed the concourse area, thus making is hard to navigate.
- The team has extended the netting past the dugouts, which block the view from too many seats. I know a lot of teams are doing this nowadays for “safety” reasons, but I still dislike it.
- The pressbox and luxury boxes are on the concourse level, resulting in a large “dark” area behind home plate that is out of view of the field. This was a definite “bug” in the early design of the modern ballpark.
When the Cubs affiliated with South Bend beginning in 2015, there seemed to be a baseball renaissance here, spurred on partly by the tremendous success of the parent club. They went from drawing 3000+ per game to drawing over 5000+ per game. Of course the team also put a lot of money into renovating and modernizing the ballpark, making it more fan friendly and adding many new amenities. While Four Winds Field still has some flaws, the renovations have brought the ballpark up to park with many newer ballparks. While it seemed at one point that South Bend may lose its team, there is little doubt now that baseball is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
- The recent renovations have greatly improved the concessions as well. There are numerous different options with pricing about what you’d expect for a single-A ballpark. Not cheap, but not overly expensive either.
- Smokey Joe’s BBQ Shack serves up pulled pork ($9) and brisket sandwiches ($9.50) as well as BBQ nachos ($8.50).
- Burgertopia offers six different specialty burgers with names like “The Cub”, “The Grizzly”, and “The Pit Boss”. All cost around $8.
- A tiki bar is located in the outfield, selling numerous adult beverages.
- Ben’s Pretzels has a stand in right field that bakes hot soft pretzels on the spot. They are probably the best pretzel you will ever taste at a ballpark.