|The building of U.S. Steel Yard caused quite a bit of stir because of where it was being built (apparently Gary doesn't have a great reputation) and the high price tag (over $40 million). The park itself is a quite nice, even if there is nothing too memorable about it. The construction of the ballpark was supposed to spur further economic development, but as of 2016 there will still almost nothing in the way of new businesses in the surrounding area. Critics of the ballpark were probably right, but there is little that can be done now except to support the RailCats. The city of Gary has enough eyesores already, so certainly does need another.
- The exterior is a red brick facade that extends all the way down both streets it is built on. This makes the ballpark look very attractive, however the it is really like an oasis as the area around the ballpark is mostly made up of abandoned buildings and parking lots.
- The design of the ballpark follows the typical 1990’s model with an open concourse overlooking the field with luxury boxes stacked above. Also included is a full 360 degree concourse which allows fans plenty of places to wander.
- Behind the batter's eye in centerfield is a play area for kids - exactly where it should be (out of sight). It is also a good location because it provides plenty of shade.
- Free parking can be found in numerous small lots that are a short distance from the park. While the park is located in a sketchy area, there is plenty of police presence, so fans should not be concerned for their safety.
- The team has a huge gift store - so big that they don't have nearly enough merchandise to fill it up!
- Atmosphere is pretty laid back and the game is still the main focus.
- Banners of past RailCat players adorn the concourse. It is always nice to see a team recognize their history, even when it is not a long one.
- A Bennigan's restaurant had been located in the brick building in right field, but they were apparently evicted after some shootings occurred in the parking lot. Now the building sits empty.
- There are almost too many other non-baseball distractions for kids. Besides the playground, there are also multiple bounce houses (which cost extra) as well as a jump ride which is $10. Really? A ride that costs as much as a ticket to the game?
The RailCats seemed to have found a nice niche here in Gary despite the bad reputation the city has. While they don’t draw huge crowds, the following they have seems to be loyal. It's hard to find much wrong with the ballpark that would keep fans away, so it has to be the location which is discouraging more fans from coming. Much like Newark (NJ), it is so hard to overcome the stigma of a city being dangerous, even though I’ve never heard of a random fan being shot or mugged while attending a ballgame. Here’s hoping that U.S. Steel Yard sticks around a lot longer than Newark’s park did.
- Between my visits in 2003 and 2016, the concessions were greatly improved. During my first visit, I noted the poor selection and poor quality. Nice to see that these issues have been fixed.
- While the selection and quality of food seemed quite good, the prices were a bit on the high side. I’m sure since most fans are used to going to White Sox and Cubs games, the team probably feels like their prices are reasonable in comparison. But they still seem too high for a minor league ballpark.
- The cheapest hot dog is $3.75. It should be a law that every ballpark have $1 hot dogs. Seriously, anything more than $2 seems like price gouging.
- Some of the unique concessions they offer are Frito pies ($4.75), walking tacos ($5.50), Italian beef sandwiches ($8), tacos ($3.50), pulled pork nachos ($9), Caprese flatbread ($8) and the always popular hummus dipper ($3.75).
- The Gourmet Grill stand has burgers and chicken sandwiches that will set you back 10 bucks. I didn’t try one, but they had better be darn good for that price.
- Ben’s Soft Pretzels has a stand where you can get fresh, warm pretzels for $5. These are a totally different (and I think better) experience than your typical SuperPretzel.