I remember meeting Albert Pujols and his wife at the stadium. She would walk around the park handing out signed baseball cards of Albert, each one having his testimony written on the back. I have never really cheered for his teams, but you just can't hate a guy like that. Another fond memory was the day I got to meet my childhood hero...Ryne Sandberg. He was coaching the Chiefs at the time and my kids were selected to have a picture taken with him for the local paper to support the Susan G. Komen Foundation. They had no idea who they were in the presence of, but I was as giddy as a little school girl waiting for the grand opening of an American Girl store. For those of you fathers that have only boys, let me translate...that's a pretty big deal!
|PawPaw's First Selfie!|
You enter the ballpark greeted by Big Pete. The Chiefs owe a lot of their success to their founder Pete Vonachen, a long time friend of the thick glassed icon Harry Carey. A rather large and odd shaped bronze statue can be found in the entry paying homage to his contribution. Note to my wife...please do not duplicate my image in bronze.
Located directly behind Section 112 is the team store. I could feel my empty head (no pun intended) being magnetically pulled in that direction. I had to get my hands on a New Era. I have grown up with this logo and have seen it change over the years, but I must say that this is my favorite conception of what a Peoria Chief should be. As you can see in the middle picture, it features a fire dog with a nasty sneer. In the past it has been a cardinal and even an Indian. I am not usually on the PC bandwagon, but from a branding standpoint this reduces issues from both club switches as well as keeping the local tribes at bay. The prices were affordable and considered average as far as team stores go. Ethan gave the appearance and prices an 8 on the FFS. In regards to the logo and the uniforms the Chief score an 8 for originality and brandability of their mascot.
As we do in all of the parks, we took our seats and performed our pregame ritual. Take a look around and see who is joining us. Take a deep breath...close my eyes...listen to the sounds of the park. Listen for the pretend sounds of an old pipe organ, a bat cracking for BP, metal cleats on concrete, and ever popular phrase "Peanuts!". That is what this game is to me, and my kids and I encourage you to approach this game as a kid. It will always stay fresh that way. Every site and smell is a little different, but they always say one thing...baseball. After my brief moment of nostalgia, we strapped on our hunting gear and went in search of a bathroom and the best food deals in the ballpark.
I would like to say that our hunt for deals was successful, but there really weren't many to be had. The prices weren't outrageous, but I couldn't really say that I got a deal either. With sodas and drinks, the cost was just over $20 for 3 meals. I can say that Ethan rated this hot dog pretty high on his pig intestine scale. Overall all he gave it a 7 on the FSS. A quick stop at the bathroom also proved uneventful. The bathrooms were clean, but nothing special. I am still waiting for the ballpark that takes advantage of that 30 second captive audience to continue to build that brand relationship with their ever changing customer. With that said, we gave the average bathrooms a 7 on the FFS because they were clean and the plumbing made everything go in the direction it should.
Ethan was quite impressed by the pregame entertainment. The Chiefs were graced with the presence of two world superheroes...Captain America and Ironman. They seemed friendly at first until Captain America threw out the first pitch. Ironman called it a ball. Cap was visibly upset over the call and it went south pretty quick. Soon superheroes were flying in from all sides of the park. Punches were thrown (much better than the first pitch I might add), seats were getting broken, and the crowd was running for the door. It turned into a real Civil War! Just kidding. They did a great job and the kids enjoyed it. This made up for the fact that the hype man really had no rememberable presence for the rest of the game. The crowd was left to enjoy the game without any distractions. The lack of a hype man is good for baseball watchers, but does not cater to a family atmosphere. We gave the overall experience a 7 on the FSS.
We saved the ballpark bling for last because it had the greatest impact on our experience. Ethan, my dad, and I gave this score a 9 and here is why. We felt welcomed here in Peoria. There was something for everyone to do. Adults could grab a not too expensive beverage as their kids wondered over to the Kids Zone to play on the playground behind center field. Not only were we greeted by friendly smiles from the staff but also a fantastic firework show that would rival any 4th of July celebration. Like many clubs, they are dealing with the sad decline of minor league fans across the country. These parks are assets to our community that need to be frequented by families. The Peoria Chiefs are well on their way to realizing this goal. If the city and local investors would rally behind their efforts and what they have already accomplished, Peoria would be a small gem in the minor league heart of America. So until next time...see you in the batter's box!
|Family Friendly Score|
|Out of Park EXP||5|