|With the opening of Huntington Park in 2009, one of the last classic ballparks, Cooper Stadium, is now just part of Columbus baseball history. While I'd always rather see the classic survive, I do understand the need for a new ballpark, especially in a big city like Columbus. At least they did it mostly right here. There are a few aspects I don't like about Huntington Park, but overall this is a fine new ballpark.
- Located in the Arena District, the park has a downtown setting, something that I always prefer. There are plenty of restaurants and night spots that fans can frequent both before and after the game.
- One of the nice features of the exterior is that the right field wall is open to the street, allowing passerbys to peer in. No spite fence here !
- The two sided concourse is definitely unique. On the backside are the bathrooms and a few beverage carts, while on the ends there are concessions stands. The front side, which is open to the field, doesn't have any amenities, so is mostly used as standing room or for fans who like to wander.
- The main concession stands are also distinct here, as they are four sided and in complete view of the field. This is one park where you truly can get concessions and watch the game at the same time.
- In left field, there is a large three-story building, which features concession stands and the team store on the first level, a restaurant/bar on the second level, and bleachers on the top level. The team has certainly made the best use possible of the space.
- The concourse does feature lots of picnic tables and counters, especially in the right field and left field corners, another amenity that I always enjoy.
- The steepness of the seating bowl is great as it allows for unobstructed views of the field.
- The mural showing the history of ballparks in Columbus is pretty cool for a ballpark fan like myself.
- The home plate entrance, while beautiful, is underutilized since the main entrances to the ballpark are all located in the outfield.
- With large crowds, the concourses (especially those in view of the field) can become very cramped and hard to navigate. While the two-sided concourse is neat, it also means there is less space for fans to roam who also want to keep an eye on the field.
- While the concourse features baseball themed art and banners, it is too bad that the team doesn't display the murals from Cooper Stadium more prominently. They can be found in the staircase of the building in left field, but not nearly enough fans get to see them there.
- What were the architects thinking when they didn't include a full wraparound concourse ? Yes, the ballpark is tight up against the street in right field, but I'm sure they could have found a way to build one in. It is ironic that an architect with the name of "360 Architects" didn't include this feature which almost every other new ballpark has.
- The park has a rather exclusive feel top it due to some of the seating. The box seats behind home plate have their own entrance, so are completely inaccessible to the average fan. And the loge seats, which start at the back of the home plate box seats and continue to the press box, block the view from the concourse. This means that it is impossible to get a photo from directly behind home plate unless you have a seat in one of these areas. Also, there is a second deck in right field, which looks pretty neat, but which is also off-limits to the general public.
- The atmosphere at Huntington Park is actually a bit crazier than I would expect for a AAA team, but isn't intolerable. They do several between inning games like the rooster toss, the dice game, and the hot dog race in addition to throwing t-shirts into the crowd several times.
- Overall, food options here are well varied and seem to provide a good value.
- Brats, burgers, wraps, paninis, Italian subs, and quesadillas are some of the unique options that are offered. There is definitely something for everyone, even those looking to eat healthy !
- The City Barbeque stand in the right field corner offers up pulled chicken, pulled pork, and beef brisket sandwiches along with an assortment of sides.
- The Clipper Ship Nachos are highly recommended. This is a pile of tortilla chips covered with generous portions of beef or chicken, cheese, sour cream, salsa, and other toppings of your choice. Delicious !
- Besides the standard Dippin Dots, the team does have a soft serve ice cream stand as well.
Huntington Park is definitely a worthy replacement for Cooper Stadium. The downtown location combined with some distinctive design elements make it a must-see for any ballpark fan. I just wish it didn't feel quite so exclusive.