Dozer Park – Bradley Braves
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Bradley Braves Baseball
The Bradley Braves baseball team shares Dozer Park with the St. Louis Cardinals Class A affiliate, the Peoria Chiefs. The stadium opened in May 2002, and Bradley’s first game in the facility was on March 26, 2003. Originally known as O’Brien Field, Caterpillar purchased naming rights in 2013. The current name refers to Caterpillar’s bulldozers.
Dozer Park has 7,500 chair back seats, along with grass seating down the left and right field lines and behind the left field wall. There are also multiple picnic tables around the concourse.
The Braves play in the Missouri Valley Conference. The most notable player in Bradley history is MLB Hall of Famer, Kirby Puckett. The late Minnesota Twin played in Peoria in 1981. Puckett’s opponent in the 1987 World Series, former Cardinals first baseman/outfielder Jim Lindeman, donned the Bradley red and white as well, from 1981-83.
Food & Beverage 3
While only one of the many concession stands in Dozer Park is open for Bradley games, they do serve the entire menu. Yes, the entire menu does include alcohol, a rarity at college baseball games.
Draft beer options are Bud Light, Miller Lite and Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy (each $6). During the cooler portion of the college baseball season, $5.50 spiked coffee or hot chocolate might hit the spot more than a cold beer. A large Pepsi product in a souvenir cup is $5.
Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, turkey burgers, pork chop sandwiches, chicken tenders, and corn dogs all sell for $6 or less. Combo meals featuring one of the above items, French fries and a soft drink are all $9 or less, a nice deal for ballpark food.
Dozer Park is just over ten years old and a nice facility. Unfortunately, the most recent game I attended included an hour long rain delay. By first pitch, the stands were practically deserted and most of the remaining fans watched the game from the cover of the concourse. With the eerie quiet, it felt like the game was being played in the middle of the night.
Inside the main entrance to Dozer Park is a merchandise stand and marketing table. The small stand features Bradley gear for sale, including t-shirts with the new school mascot, Kaboom the Gargoyle. The Chiefs merchandise store is not open during Bradley games. The marketing table contains picture schedules, posters and laminated cards for baseball bingo. The bingo winner receives a coupon for free pizza.
The 7,500 green seats feature cup holders. Seats in rows 20 and 21 are under an overhang from the press box and suite level. These seats remain nice and dry in the event of a rain shower. Legroom is ample.
The field at Dozer Park features grass and clay. The Bradley players and coaches are in charge of getting the tarp on and off the field. Dimensions are 310 feet down the lines, 375 feet to the power alleys and 400 feet to straightaway center field.
The Braves use the Dozer Park video board, a luxury not available to most mid-major, college baseball programs. The screen features information about the players and airs videos for between inning contests.
Kelleher’s Irish Pub and Eatery is located on the historic riverfront, two blocks away from the park. The restaurant is housed in an old warehouse. They feature traditional Irish fare, along with American bar food. Kelleher’s touts their 20 micro or import drafts and 90 different bottled beers.
The stadium is on the eastern edge of Peoria’s downtown. Peoria features a wide variety of nightlife for fans looking for a late night on the town. Just across the river in East Peoria, the recently developed area features nearly every dining and shopping chain possible.
The trade off of playing in a shiny, off-campus facility is that students have to travel to attend games. They can’t just spill out of the dorms and into the game. The team needs to be winning and playing an exciting brand of ball to ensure lively, invested crowds.
In all fairness to the Bradley student body, I attended a weeknight, non-conference game that featured an hour-long rain delay before the first pitch. Once the game started, there were only a handful of students in attendance who weren’t working at the game. Parents of the players make up the majority of the crowd.
Free parking is available on multiple streets around the ballpark. There are also nearby office lots that might be available for use, depending on the day and time of your visit to Dozer Park. Check the signs on the streets and the lots to make sure you won’t come out of the game to find a ticket on your windshield.
Unlike the concession stands, all of the concourse bathrooms are open. The facilities are clean and spacious.
Return on Investment 2
Admission is $6, which seems high, when many competing programs offer free admission. Free parking helps to make up for the admission charge. A pretzel and Pepsi in a souvenir cup totals $8.50. The souvenir cup features the Peoria Chiefs instead of Bradley. The cup is a leftover from seasons ago because it still shows the Chiefs as a Cubs affiliate. The Chiefs have been a Cardinals affiliate since 2013. It might be in your best interest to wait until the summer and visit Dozer Park for a Chiefs game to get the most entertainment for your dollar at this ballpark.
While most everything in the park references the summer tenant, the Braves have two prominent areas where their history is on display. On the third base side of the concourse, there are two, wall-length posters featuring photos, names and records of great players in Bradley baseball history.
Down the right field line, next to the retired Chiefs numbers, are the names and numbers retired by the Braves. Along with Puckett’s number 14, Bradley has retired the numbers of former pitcher Mike Dunne (#11) and longtime coach Leo Schrall (#2).
Dozer Park is a comfortable and fan-friendly stadium with a view of the downtown Peoria skyline. It is well worth checking out on a sunny day or a clear night. Unfortunately, it feels like Bradley is an afterthought at their own home field.
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Latest Crowd Reviews
Louisiana Saturday Night By Paul Donaldson One of the most intimidating venues in all college football, Tiger Stadium serves as a significant home field advantage to the home town LSU Tigers. With recently closing in the upper deck of the south end zone, the intimidation factor has multiplied. Tiger Stadium now boasts a capacity of 102,321, making it the fifth largest college football stadium in the country. Tiger Stadium is a particularly special venue when LSU plays at night. The Tigers have a 78percent winning percentage at home under the lights compared to 50percent record during the day (as of June 2013). As you make plans to visit Tiger Stadium, make sure it’s at night and against an SEC opponent. Every fan of college football should make room for a visit to the newly expanded Tiger Stadium on their bucket list. From the intense tradition of tailgating, to one of the loudest fan bases in all of sports, it’s hard to top the experience in Death Valley. Food &amp Beverage 4 You’ll find plenty of options to satisfy your cravings plus a little more at the varied concessions around Tiger Stadium. Your traditional stadium fare is covered with all beef hot dogs (3.50), nachos (4.50), burgers (5.50), and a sausage poboy (6) as the primary options. Additional items include popcorn (3 for 46 ounces and 6 for huge 170 ounce bag), pretzels (4), peanuts (4), Cajun hot nuts (5), and more of your basic items. I recommend the hot boudain for 5 from the main concession stands. There are several specialty stands to choose from as well. The Dog House offers gourmet hot dogs including the popular Dikta Dog. Bayou Café serves a similar menu but also features jambalaya. There’s an All-Star Lemonade and Tea stand, as well as a Sweet Spot stand which serves an assortment of snacks. In the ground level concourse, you’ll find a few temporary stands including Caliente Mexican Craving, Chick-fil-A, Papa Johns, and Kona Ice. The box seats in the new south end zone expansion offers buffet style concessions. Drink options are headlined by Coca-Cola products which range from 4 for a 22 ounce and 5 for a 32 ounce. Dasani bottled water runs from 3 for a half liter and 5.50 for a liter. Frozen lemonade is available for 5.50 and hot chocolate for 4. Tiger Stadium does not offer alcoholic beverages. Atmosphere 5 The amazing atmosphere for an LSU game starts well before you make it inside the stadium. The tailgating scene on LSU’s campus is truly unreal. Fans descend onto the south side of Baton Rouge sometimes 1-2 nights before the game to begin tailgating. You’ll find purple and gold tents, BBQ pits, and massive pots of jambalaya all across the campus. Many fans show up to tailgate with no plans of even going to the game. The Tiger Walk is a truly special sight where the band and spirit squads make the trek down the hill and into Tiger Stadium before kickoff. Be sure to grab a spot along the route early so you can get a good view of this mini-parade. There will be swarms of LSU fans on hand. When you make your way inside Tiger Stadium, you’ll witness the traditional LSU pregame show delivered by the Golden Band from Tiger Land. Before kickoff, the live tiger mascot, Mike VI, makes a trip around the playing surface in a cage on wheels greeting the Tiger faithful. Mike the Tiger hasn’t really been feeling up to making the trip these days and his handlers allow him to decide whether to get in the cage without being forceful. So if you don’t see Mike at the game, be sure to stop by his multi-million dollar facility just outside Tiger Stadium next to the PMAC during game day. In an era of artificial playing surfaces, LSU has remained traditional with natural Celebration Bermuda Grass. Another traditional aspect of the stadium surface is the H style field goal posts. This allows the team to run straight from the tunnel through the goal posts and on to the field from the north end. A unique aspect of the field is the marking the yardline numbers by the 5s. The center of the field is painted with a purple, gold, and white eye of the Tiger. In 2009, an 80 foot wide video board was installed in the north end zone. Listed at the top of the scoreboard are LSU’s three national championship seasons: 1958, 2003, and 2007. To the right of the scoreboard are three flags, each displaying the championship years as well. Prior to the 2014 season, the south side upper level was closed in with additional seating and box suites. If you haven’t been to Tiger Stadium since the construction, it’s truly a new and enhanced experience. Neighborhood 4 Tiger Stadium is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on the sprawling campus of Louisiana State University. Since you’re in the middle of a college campus, there are not a lot of restaurants immediately around the stadium. Despite that, the LSU campus on game day becomes an active neighborhood. Just outside the stadium, several vendor booths are set up offering plenty to feed your appetite. If you’re lucky enough to be attending an LSU tailgate, don’t be surprised to find plenty of great Cajun food like a huge pot of jambalaya or gumbo. If you’re wearing opposing team colors, I wouldn’t recommend mingling with random LSU fans because you could be asking for trouble (AKA: Tiger Bait). However, if you’re in neutral or home colors, you will meet plenty of friendly fellow fans who will likely be kind enough to offer you food. Besides great tailgating food, there are a few on-campus attractions like the Jack and Priscilla Andonie Museum which chronicles LSU athletic history and Mike the Tiger’s new million dollar habitat. A short drive from the stadium will bring you plenty of additional options. A must-stop restaurant option while in town before or after the game is The Chimes. Here you’ll find great Cajun dishes, seafood, and a fun college environment. The birthplace of the growing Raising Cane’s restaurants is located near the campus. This quick service restaurant has some of the best fried chicken fingers and an addictive dipping sauce. The Mellow Mushroom is a good stop for pizza and a fun atmosphere. Walk-Ons is a great sports themed pub located within walking distance of Tiger Stadium across from Alex Box Stadium. There are plenty of bars and college dives to fill up an entire fall semester. If you’re looking for that kind of fun, you’ll have no problem finding it. Outside of that, there are a few other attractions to check out while in town. The USS Kidd is located on the Mississippi River and offers a tour of a restored World War II Destroyer. If you are into the casino experience, check out the L’Auberge. The Louisiana State Museum offers plenty of great exhibits on the history of the Cajun state. You will find plenty of hotels in a city the size of Baton Rouge. I recommend a stay on the LSU campus in the Cook Hotel and Conference Center which is run by the LSU Alumni Association. Fans 5 Tiger Stadium is home to some of the most passionate fans in all of American sports. In fact, LSU fans are so loud that after a game winning touchdown pass on October 8, 1988, the roar of the crowd actually registered on a seismograph meter in the on-campus geology department. It’s quite a sight to see 103,000+ fans fill Tiger Stadium and yell in support of their defense. If you’re an opposing fan, expect to hear endless “Tiger Bait” and “LSU, LSU, LSU” chants in your direction as you make your way to the stadium and while you’re inside. The student section is particularly rowdy. Not a down goes by without the student section joining together in unison in a chant or hand gesture. Here are some video clips found on Youtube of the various songs and chants: Access 3 Access remains one of the most difficult aspects for LSU Athletics to manage as part of the game day experience. Then again, when an estimated 300,000+ fans descend onto campus, it’s nearly impossible to manage crowds without a few headaches along the way. Be sure to check out LSU’s football parking website and come up with a parking game plan. Also check out the LSU football fan guide available online. With so many people planning to tailgate before the game, get to the campus and reserve your parking spot as early on game day as possible. While getting to the stadium is a bit of a challenge, getting into the stadium is relatively less difficult. If you’re heading up to the cheap seats (and I use the term loosely), you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find an escalator taking you there. Getting to the upper tier is often quite a workout at stadiums of this size, but not at Tiger Stadium. There’s plenty of gate availability around the stadium and you’re not likely to run into long lines. Getting around the stadium can be difficult at times. It can really be difficult at peak concession times to get around the concourse. The long concession lines block the concourse traffic forcing fans to squeeze through. Moving up and down from your seat is pretty painless with adequate spaced aisles and rows. Return on Investment 4 While attending an LSU game at Tiger Stadium is anything but inexpensive, the return on your investment is invaluable. Though you’ll be out a lot of green in your pocket, the passion of LSU fans, SEC-level competition, and a great college atmosphere will deliver an elite experience. If you’re buying tickets early before the season begins, you can likely score upper deck tickets for as low as 60 for non-marquee games. If you want to get seats in the lower bowl, I recommend you check out resale ticket sites and look for deals you can afford. Outside of game tickets, you’ll find higher-end concession prices and near outrageous apparel prices. However, a bonus is the availability of free parking if you plan ahead. All things considered, there’s a reason 102,000+ fans consistently pack this stadium on Saturdays in the fall. Despite the high costs, the experience at Tiger Stadium is well worth the price. Extras 5 LSU has a ton of extra components to the game day experience that help make the overall atmosphere elite. The LSU tailgating scene is unrivaled in all of college football. While making your way to the stadium, you’ll pass miles of LSU tailgaters, many of which have been set-up since Friday night and some even before then. About an hour before kickoff, fans pack Victory Hill to see Mike the Tiger, the Golden Girls, and the Golden Band from Tiger Land march into the stadium. The sea of purple and gold crowded together to watch the march is a pretty special sight. LSU features their National Championships with pride. You’ll notice the championship years listed on the scoreboard and on the flags next to the scoreboard as a reminder of Tiger greatness. Bonus points definitely go out to the loyal Tiger fans. A 5 out of 5 rating just isn’t good enough. If there are more passionate fans in America, they are few and far between. LSU provides a fan guide that breaks down all the need-to-know information into a single guide. Be sure to check this out to plan your visit. If you’re hoping to listen to the game on your radio but don’t know who is carrying the call, you will be happy to notice signs in the concourse announcing which radio station to tune into (currently Eagle 98.1).