Monday, July 23, 2007

Day 28: Knology Park

All photos of Knology Park available on Flickr.

Today brought us back to the Tampa area to catch an Class A game in Dunedin, which is a suburb of Tampa that neighbors Clearwater. Knowing full well that we had to drive through Clearwater to get to Dunedin, we of course stopped off at the Original World-Famous Hooters location, built in 1983. Fortunately for us, there were not the original 1983 waitresses there. We kicked back a few pints, watched the D-Rays v. Yankees game on the tube, and picked up a couple of souvenirs. It had poured most of the way from Miami to Tampa, and the story was no different in Dunedin. We walked outside in the rain to our car and prayed that the luck of the tour would be on our side once again.

We arrived at the park at around 5:45 and were met by someone in the team's human relations department, who set us up with a sweet little table in the concourse by the main gate. We passed the time mostly talking to elderly staff members about the tour and our thoughts on the weather situation. We were assured that the game would start, albeit a bit late, and that the radar showed rain pretty much everywhere in the area except Dunedin. Apparently, Clearwater, which is 4 minutes away, rains out all the time, and Dunedin has only had two all season. We were disappointed at first when we only made $17 fundraising, but when we entered the stands and saw that the total attendance was around 100, we felt pretty good about what we had raised.

This was definitely my favorite minor league game of the trip. When I go to minor league parks, I personally prefer not to have all the glitz and glamour of major league stadiums, but I also don't want to watch ball in a dump either. This park was clean yet simple, and it actually reminded me alot of Pohlman Field in Beloit. It is the spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays, and during the season, their Advanced A-ball affiliate plays there, so it is used close to year round. We didn't actually have "tickets" persay, so we sat three rows behind the first base dugout an enjoyed a good old-fashioned minor league barnburner. Threshers starter Luis Villarreal gave up 9 runs in 1.2 innings, including a towering blast by D-Jays 1B Josh Kruezer, which I don't believe has landed yet. Look for Villarreal to be bagging groceries by the end of the week. Kruezer ended up with 4 RBI, and shortstop Jesus Gonzalez had 4 hits in the 12-2 win. D-Jays starter Brandon Magee went 8 strong innings.

After the game we drove about 2 hours to Gainesville and stayed at a rest stop for the night. Tomorrow it's off to Hot-lanta for a little Sunday Night Baseball!

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 3
views from park - 2
view to field - 10
surrounding area - 3
food variety - 3
nachos - 4
beer - 1 (only Bud Light)
vendor price - 6 (pricy for minors)
ticket price - 10 (ours were free)
atmosphere - 5 (it was cool being in a small crowd, but eerily quiet)
walk to park - 2
parking price/proximity - 10
concourses - 4
team shop - 7 (small but nice D-Jays helmets though)

best food - n/a (we were full from Hooters)
most unique stadium feature - infield diamond off to the side of the field
best jumbotron feature - n/a
best between-inning feature - Bingo

field dimensions - 336/404/333
starters - Luis Villarreal (CLE) v. Brandon Magee (DUN)
opponent - Clearwater Threshers
time of game - 2:17
attendance - 590
score - 12-2 W
Brewers score that day - 8-0 L

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