Grayson Stadium – Savannah Bananas
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These Bananas Are Still Appeeling
In late 2015, the New York Mets announced they would be relocating their Class A farm team from Savannah to a new stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. This would leave 92 year-old Grayson Stadium without a tenant and the gem of the Georgia Coast without baseball. The Savannah Bananas have filled this void and greatly surpassed the success of many of the previous tenants. They are members of the Coastal Plain League (CPL), one of the premiere summer collegiate wooden bat leagues in the country. More than 1,500 players from the CPL have gone on to play in professional baseball. Amongst the most successful CPL alumni are Justin Verlander, Ryan Zimmerman, and Kevin Youkilis.
Savannah has enthusiastically accepted the Bananas, as the team has shattered previous attendance records and sold out for 2016 and 2017 in a 4,000-seat stadium, which is unheard of at this level of baseball. The team has accomplished this by putting a quality show on the field and in the stands.
The home for this bunch of Bananas is Historic Grayson Stadium in Daffin Park. It was built in 1926 and originally known as Municipal Stadium. It underwent major repairs and renovation after it was nearly destroyed by a hurricane in 1941, changing its name to Grayson Stadium afterwards in recognition of a major donor to fund the rebuilding. Many baseball legends including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb, Jackie Robinson, and Mickey Mantle have played in this historic facility. Over the years Grayson Stadium has been used for the minor league affiliate for the Cleveland Indians, the Kansas City Athletics, the Cincinnati Reds, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Chicago White Sox, the Washington Senators, the Atlanta Braves, and the New York Mets.
Physically, Grayson Stadium has changed very little since the Bananas arrival, and that is why it retains so much of its charm. A majority of the stands are under a roof with ceiling fans to keep the crowd cool during the hot and humid summers of Savannah. Seating is on benches with seat backs. The scoreboard is hand changed the old fashioned way. What has changed is the atmosphere and approach to the game. Baseball is still the primary focus, but the Bananas bring a whole new experience to the park as far as entertainment, especially between innings and during lulls in the action. There is never a dull moment.
Food & Beverage 4
The concession offerings at Grayson Stadium offer the obvious traditional baseball fare along with some decidedly unique dishes. On the basic menu are hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, nachos, chili cheese fries, and popcorn (all available for less than $4). Bananas are $1 each. Coca-Cola products ($5) and bottled water ($2) fill out the beverage menu.
Among some of the more unique and “a-peeling” items the Bananas offer are Frozen Chocolate Bananas ($4) and a specialty banana liqueur drink called the Slippery Banana ($9). The team offers one dozen cookies from Savannah’s own Byrd Cookie Company at $5. The most popular menu item is the Garbage Can Nacho ($20), a monster meal designed feed a family of four or more which includes 3 orders of nachos, 2 cheeseburgers, 2 hot dogs, grilled chicken, nacho cheese jalapenos and of course two bananas. And it comes to you served on a garbage can lid!
Adult beverages are sold at the Craft Corner and at the atop the first base line. Brands offered include local favorites from Service Brewing Company, Moon River, and Coastal Empire. The Bananas also offer brands from Dogfish Head, Bell’s, Stone, Highland, Victory, and Lagunitas. Pricing for craft drafts are $6, craft cans are $4, aluminum domestic pints are $5, and wines are $5 a glass.
The best way to describe the experience of attending a Bananas game is the title of the Emerson, Lake, and Palmer hit “Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends.” No matter whether the Bananas win or lose (which they do not do very often) you will leave Grayson Stadium well entertained. There is no “down” time between innings as an activity or contest is scheduled to fill it. Amongst the things you are likely to see are singing and dancing players, ushers and grounds people, the Banana Nanas senior dance squad, Catch a Banana in Your Pants, pillow fights, trivia contests, and silly races. Overseeing this madness is the team’s “top Banana,” team owner Jesse Cole. He is easy to spot, as he wears a banana yellow tux and top hat. He is assisted in this by the team mascot, Split. Split can best be described as a Banana on steroids (actually he is clean… he is just extremely high in potassium).
The entertainment factor is excellent, but the truth is the Savannah Bananas field a very good team. They won the CPL championship their inaugural season and have been to the playoffs every year of their existence.
The Bananas added a Stadium Club in 2017, which features a bar, flat screen TVs and a patio along the third base line. It is located along the third base line in a previously undeveloped area away from the grandstand. In this way, the team has preserved the historic character of the stadium.
Grayson Stadium is in Daffin Park, a beautiful park set within a predominantly residential area. The restaurants within walking distance of the stadium are fast food in nature and include Krystal, Wendy’s, and Chipotle. A short drive south on Victory Drive will bring you to Coach’s Corner, a great sports bar, and Tijuana Flats, which serves excellent Tex-Mex.
For more trendy restaurants head north on Victory Drive (towards downtown Savannah). Three solid choices are Elizabeth’s on 37th Street (reservations required), or head over to Habersham Street for the Green Truck Pub, or Cotton and Rye. These are all within a 4-mile radius of Grayson Stadium.
Lodging choices in Savannah are predominantly located along Bay Street in the downtown area, or out on Tybee Island on the beach. Most likely you will be visiting more than just Grayson Stadium during your stay in Savannah, so downtown Savannah is your best choice. The hotels on Bay Street are across the street from the River Street bar and entertainment district along the Savannah River. The beautiful city squares and Historic District are just blocks away from your lodgings and no more than 5 miles from Grayson Stadium.
Savannah has a long-time love affair with baseball, as the city has had a minor league affiliate in the city for over 90 years. It has also hosted numerous exhibitions featuring baseball legends that enjoyed the mild temperatures in Savannah on their way down to spring training over the years. They have proved their loyalty by packing the stands each game and they love to take part in the many zany promotions the team sponsors. Almost everyone will be wearing one of the many variations of Bananas t-shirts. The team has also developed some team cheers and a theme song “Don’t Stop the Peeling” that the fans love to sing between innings.
Savannah is very easy to negotiate as it is laid out on a grid of squares as was the custom in Colonial times. The main approaches to downtown Savannah are from I-16 or I-95. You will want to follow I-16 going east to exit 165. You will then turn right onto Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. This will intersect with Victory Drive in just a few short blocks. At Victory Drive (also marked as Highway 80), turn left and continue for 3 miles. You will see Daffin Park on your right and Grayson Park will be at the south end of the park. There is free parking available within the park as well as surrounding city streets.
Return on Investment 4
A night out with the Bananas will not cause you to split with much of your hard-earned money. Tickets are priced at $10 for a reserved seat or $9 for general admission. Parking at Grayson Stadium is free and the concessions are reasonably priced. The Bananas also offer several discounted tickets based on multi-game packages, packages that build an all you can eat concession/game ticket combo, and discounts for children and military (Savannah has a large military presence with Ft. Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield).
The first extra goes to Historic Grayson Park. It is nice to see a vintage park stay relevant with so much history taking place on its field in this era of changing stadiums every few years.
The second extra is for being in the city of Savannah. Grayson Stadium is located halfway in between the Historic District of Downtown Savannah and the beaches at Tybee Island.
Until 2018, the Bananas were geographically isolated from the rest of the Coastal Plain League teams, which are predominantly in the Carolinas. They now have a fierce new rival in the form of the Macon Bacon. The two teams are only separated by 150 miles of I-16 and a food group. Series between Macon and Savannah are known as “food fights” and there are no leftovers at the end of the games, as both teams give 100%.
The biggest extra is the quality entertainment experiences the Bananas provide their fans. The name of the ownership group says it best…. Fans First Entertainment.
The Savannah Bananas and Grayson Stadium have provided yet another entertainment option to Georgia’s most popular tourism destination. The combination of great baseball played in a historic stadium, great entertainment between innings and during lulls in the action, and easy access to the beach or the Savannah Historic District / River Street make this a very appeeling option.
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404 Butler Ave
Tybee Island, GA 31328
Hyatt Regency Savannah
2 West Bay St
Savannah, GA 31401
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