|Veterans Memorial Stadium
was a great example of the classic minor league ballpark. Unfortunately, 2001 marked its
final year and the park was torn down after the season. The
park featured a rather large covered grandstand that stretched from
base to base. Under it were mostly benches (with backs), and just
a few rows of box seats. There were also bleacher sections down both
lines past the grandstand. A picnic area was situated in the left
field corner of the park. The concourse really harkened back to a
different time. It was located under the grandstand and was very tight.
Some concessions were housed here with others were located down each line behind
the bleacher sections. The Kernels even found room to tuck a small
souvenir store into the concourse. It was certainly one of the most
unique concourses you'll find, even if it wasn't suitable for large crowds.
The park was set on the southern outskirts of Cedar Rapids, but because
of this, the city skyline could be seen in the distance over the right field
fence. The best aspects about these old parks are usually two things
- the atmosphere focused on the baseball game and the cheap prices.
Veterans Memorial didn't fail on either count. While the team did some
craziness between innings and play some sound effects, the game was the
event here. As for prices, they don't come much cheaper. Parking
was free, GA seats were $4, and concession items very reasonable. Among
the older parks, there are ones I like better (Pittsfield,
but this certainly ranks right up there - just a notch below those.
A new park was being built right next to the current park and opened in 2002. I have yet to see a game
at the new park, but can
only hope that the atmosphere and prices have remained the same, but I fear
that they have resorted to being just like every other team with a new stadium.
And that's shame, as Veterans Memorial was one of the unique experiences
left in minor league baseball.