Curtis Granderson Stadium – UIC Flames
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A Grand Ballpark with a View
One of the lasting memories of visiting a ballpark is the view it provides. I’m not referring to the view of the field, which no doubt is important. However the view I am referring to is the view from behind home plate looking out beyond the outfield wall. BB&T Ballpark provides a spectacular view of the skyline of downtown Charlotte. Oriole Park at Camden Yards has the memorable view of the warehouse beyond right field and the downtown skyline beyond center field. Campbell’s Field in Camden, New Jersey has the Benjamin Franklin Bridge connecting Philadelphia and Camden just beyond the outfield wall.
A new ballpark in Chicago is one of the most recent additions to great views beyond the outfield wall. Curtis Granderson Stadium, home of the University of Illinois at Chicago, has a unique view that provides a campus feel important to a collegiate ballpark. Just behind the outfield wall are school buildings and residence halls and beyond that is a great view of the iconic Chicago skyline combining for one of the best views at any ballpark on any level.
On February 6, 2013, the University of Illinois-Chicago Flames announced that they were retiring the number 28 in honor of former standout and Major Leaguer Curtis Granderson. During the retirement ceremony, Granderson also announced that he would make a significant donation to build a new baseball stadium for his alma mater. In all, Granderson pledged $5 million.
Besides serving as the home of the UIC Flames baseball team, Granderson Stadium will also host youth games in partnership with MLB and Chicago Public Schools.
Food & Beverage 3
The concession stand is located just inside the main entrance to the ballpark behind home plate and provides the regular assortment to choose from. A slice of pizza, nachos, or a hot dog and chips will run you $3, while a bratwurst is $4. Popcorn is $2 and candy or sunflower seeds are $1.50.
Fountain drinks, bottled water, and Gatorade are all $2 while coffee and hot chocolate are $1. Everything at the concession stand is very reasonably priced. A large portion of the crowd carries in food and drinks.
There is ample seating that stretches from first base around the backstop to third base, and all seats are individual blue chair backs. The seats are comfortable and spacious, providing a very comfortable viewing experience. Since the seats are all located in the infield, all seats have good sight lines and don’t require any head turning to see the action on the field.
There are 1,284 fixed seats with capacity for an additional 500 on the berm for a total capacity of 1,784 and is fully ADA accessible with designated space for up to 12 wheelchairs and companion seats as well.
One thing that can detract from the atmosphere is the presence of netting from dugout to dugout; the only seating options that are not behind a net are the berm seats.
The scoreboard located in left center between the bullpens and the batters eye is easy to read even in the bright daylight. Photos and the name of each batter appear on the scoreboard, a feature not available at many college ballparks. It makes following along and completing a score book a much easier task.
Just beyond the ballpark down the right field line is Halstead St. which is full of places to grab a meal before or after the game, or to grab something to take inside the ballpark with you. Joy Yee’s Noodles is an Asian fusion restaurant with a wide selection of dishes. Rosati’s Pizza is a great place to grab a slice or have a sit down meal. If you just want to grab a quick beverage before or after a game, then Jamba Juice, Peet’s Coffee and 7-Eleven are all within walking distance from the ballpark.
Another good spot about a mile from campus is Haymarket Pub & Brewery, located on the other side of I-290 at 737 West Randolph Haymarket. It provides a wide variety of beers with both in house brews as well as other regional craft favorites. Haymarket has great pizza and sandwiches as well as a brunch menu if you are attending an early game on Saturday or Sunday.
An additional great option is Moxee Restaurant & Mad Mouse Brewery, they combine a small batch brewery with a menu that includes southern inspired favorites such as shrimp & grits, steak tips, Po’ Boy sandwiches, and smoked BBQ.
The fans at Granderson Stadium seem to consist mostly of family and friends of both teams, which isn’t a bad thing. While the crowds aren’t huge, they are engaged in the game and have knowledge of what is happening on the field. It is good to see fans discussing the hitter on deck or discussing the ground ball needed for a pitcher to get out of one out jam. These fans are knowledgeable and passionate and into every pitch for the entirety of the game.
The UIC campus is within easy access of major freeways in Chicago including I-290, I-90, and I-94. There is parking available on the street, and a parking garage and surface lots adjacent to the UIC pavilion is an easy walk. Parking in either location is only $5. Another great option is the CTA “L” train with easy accessibility from both the UIC-Halstead and Racine stops. The only negative is the Chicago traffic that can make your route difficult to navigate, especially for a weeknight game.
Return on Investment 3
Admission to Granderson Stadium is $7 for an adult general admission seat with kids 18 and under receiving free admission. UIC students also receive free admission and groups of 15 or more receive tickets at $4 each. While the general admission adult ticket is on the high end in terms of other college baseball programs in the area, it isn’t unreasonable; and is worth the cost for the quality of the facility.
One extra point for the fantastic view, one of the better views of a downtown skyline at any ballpark on any level.
Another extra point for Curtis Granderson, his generosity and desire to help to improve the program he comes from is commendable.
UIC has a great ballpark that should be an asset to the baseball program but also to the community. This ballpark will contribute to that enjoyment well beyond the games played by the UIC baseball team. It is hard to imagine this ballpark not becoming a destination for area high school and youth tournaments.
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Food and Drink Recommendations
Joy Yee’s Noodles
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