|Howard Johnson Field is home to the Johnson City Cardinals of the Appalachian League. As with all the parks in the league, it is small, intimate, and rarely crowded. You certainly won't find any of the bells and whistles that are found at many new parks, but the fans could care less - they are here to watch baseball and have a relaxing evening out. I first attended a game here in 1997 - at that time (and up until 2010) there was a large hill in RF that was in play. This added some charm to the ballpark (not to mention a challenge to the outfielders). Upon a return visit in 2013, the removal of the hill means that Howard Johnson Field is void of any real character now. The team did play a couple of home games at Thomas Stadium (on the campus of ETSU), but not sure if this is going to be a regular occurrence or not. With renovations being done to the exterior of Howard Johnson Field, it is doubtful that a permanent move to Thomas Stadium is imminent.
- As with all the Appalachian League ballparks, the atmosphere is focused on the game as there are very few distractions. A few between inning contests are performed on the field, but they do not detract from the experience at all.
- The grandstand is small, cozy, and provides a good deal of covering for the fans. I always appreciate a ballpark that has a roof for those nights when it is rainy.
- The seats are extremely close to the field, especially those behind home plate. On a typical night, you can hear much of what is said by the players and umpires. You just can't get much more intimate than this at the minor league level.
- As can be expected from a rookie league team, the prices are very affordable. Tickets are just $4 for general admission (which is most of the seats), parking is free, and all concession items are $4 or less.
- The souvenir stand, named the "The Birdhouse", is located along the concourse behind home plate.
- A plaque honoring Howard Johnson, whom the ballpark was named after, is located in the walkway of the grandstand.
- All the seats are obstructed by netting or fencing, so it isn't the best place for actually viewing a game or taking photos. I realize that the foul territory is small here, but offering some non-obstructed seats would be nice.
- The setting is unmemorable as the ballpark is located next to a city pool and a few blocks from the downtown area.
- The seating is mostly benches (some with backs), so it not the most comfortable place to take in a game.
- The picnic area down the third base line almost doesn't even feel like it is part of the park. I'm not sure that the fans can even see the game from there.
- There is only a single concession stand in the whole park, though there is also one stand dedicated to Italian ice.
- Among the concession offerings are Chick-Fil-A sandwiches $4), burgers ($3.50), pizza ($2), and hot dogs with free toppings ($2).
- Besides the Italian ice, other frozen treats include ice cream sandwiches and Drum Sticks. No soft-serve or Dippin Dots can be found here.
- No beer is served at Howard Johnson Field. Soda, Powerade, and water are all $2.
- The concession lines tend to be a bit slow, but the quality of the food seemed pretty good.