Monday, August 3, 2009

Alexian Field

All photos of Alexian Field available on Flickr.

"Click here to win free Schaumburg Flyers tickets." Sometimes, that's all it takes to get Erik and I to go to a ballgame. Any long-time followers of this blog know the extent of which we plan baseball trips, but in the case of Friday's excursion, a baseball trip found us. Little beknownst to Erik that a mindless cursor click on a Facebook ad would result in two free tickets arriving at his doorstep, and a brief but fun roadtrip to Schaumburg, Illinois to close out July.

My office's half-day Fridays allowed me to meet Erik in Schaumburg an hour prior to the 6:45 game. Schaumburg is on the outskirts of the Chicago suburban area to the northwest, and has about 75,000 residents. As usual, driving through Illinois was horrible, as I had to contend with a half-dozen spots along US-20 where a two-lane road was reduced to one by flaggers, and almost an hour of congestion at I-39. Despite the ordeal, I managed to arrive about 20 minutes before Erik, and I passed the time by reading a souvenir program on a bench. Even before going inside, I knew this would be a great night - live band playing on the concourse, scantilly-clad dance team passing out flyers, and parking plus a program (which for some reason is NOT called "The Schaumburg Flyer") for a total of $1.

The front of the stadium is very tall with a nice shady courtyard. When Erik arrived, we tried getting in on the ground floor, but we ended up having to ascend a staircase and enter on the concourse level, since the main entry was actually on field-level. The ground level doors lead only to the clubhouses and team store, and makes the facade extremely massive in order to accomodate this entry. This means that what appears to be the main entry is mostly unused, and you have to descend a back fire stair to get to the store from the concourse, both obvious design flaws. The rest of the park was a familiar single-deck setup featuring a large suite & pressbox area above the concourse. Erik and I were both very impressed with the multiple sizes of souvenir cups and the Flyers logo being displayed on everything throughout the park, from napkins to bathroom doors. There was also a good, cheap beer selection that we both approved of, and the new party suite along 1st on the upper level looked amazing. After walking around for a few minutes and taking some pictures, we got some beers and food and took our complimentary seats on the lawn by the left field foul pole.

The game itself was all offense, as Winnipeg pounded the Flyers 12-4. After the 5-run first, the game moved along very quickly despite the 21 combined hits. Both starters faired decently for an independent league game, each giving up 4 over 6; but, when Schaumburg went to the 'pen in the 7th, Winnipeg showed why they had the best record in the league. Josh Giles gave up 6 earned runs over 1.2 for the Flyers, including homeruns by each of the top 3 hitters in the lineup. We were concerned at first if the guy operating the manual scoreboard was going to be able to accomodate a 10-spot in the 8th for the Goldeyes, but thankfully for him they only plated 8 that inning. The very unsafe postgame festivities included a weak fireworks display in the woods behind the centerfield wall, and an event dubbed the "World's Largest Dizzy Bat Race." We then made a quick visit down the fire stair to the team store and parted ways for home.

One more stadium crossed off the list, and I have now seen 2/3 of the 6-team Northern League. Hopefully we can make it back to Kansas City someday to catch a KC T-Bones/Fargo game so I can complete the league tour.

park stats and rankings:
aesthetics - 4
views from park - 3 (woods)
view to field - 4 (lawn section was steeply pitched, made it hard to turn and view game)
surrounding area - 4
food variety - 6
nachos - 5 (standard)
beer - 7 (decent selection and price, bonus points for Leines Lodge and Labatts)
vendor price - 7
ticket price - 10 (sat by kids area)
atmosphere - 5
walk to park - 3
parking proximity - 9 (across the street for free)
concourses - 2 (convoluted vertical circulation & entry)
team shop - 6 (bonus points for sweet new logo)

best food - "moist" italian beef sandwich
most unique stadium feature - fire stair to team store
best jumbotron feature - US & Canadian flags for anthems
best between-inning feature - world's largest dizzy bat race

field dimensions - 355/400/353
starters - Mark Michael (WPG) v. Edwin Almonte (SCH)
opponent - Winnipeg Goldeyes
time of game - 2:47
attendance - 5992
score - 12-4 L
Brewers score that day - 11-7 L

Brewers 52-53, -4.5 (3 @ Dodgers, 3 @ Astros)
Reds 45-59, -11.0 (3 v. Cubs, 3 @ Giants)
Twins 52-53, -3.0 (3 @ Indians, 3 @ Tigers)

Erik - 36 (+18 worked)
Peter - 47

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