Victory Field – Indianapolis Indians
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Still One of the Best in the Minor Leagues
Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis remains one of the premier spots to enjoy a minor league baseball game in the country; its design, setting, small improvements, and simplicity keep attracting fans again and again during the season. The team has been an institution in town since 1902 and has a stadium that is synonymous with baseball in Indianapolis.
The Tribe has been the top draw the past two seasons in all of minor league baseball and have averaged numbers well over 9,000 fans a game. The secret to the team’s success might be the spacious ballpark that ages like fine wine, affordable tickets, or its location downtown near the zoo, WhiteWater Amphitheater concert venue, restaurants, bars, bike paths, museums, and Lucas Oil Stadium. Then again, it may be just the perfect ballpark for the size of the city.
The Indianapolis Indians of the International League have been playing baseball at the stadium since July 11, 1996. The 14,230-seat stadium replaced the aging Bush Stadium that had housed the Tribe since 1931. Ironically, Bush Stadium was known as Victory Field from 1942-1967 in reference to World War II. Baseball itself has been played in the city since 1877, while the Indians franchise has called Indianapolis home since 1902.
The team has made several renovations that past two seasons that have included a new $2.4 million, 35-foot-by-50-foot HD video board in right field, updated suites, and hallways that now include the team colors of red and white, along with pictures of former players, managers, championship seasons, and a franchise timeline of major league affiliates and historic moments.
Food & Beverage 4
Victory Field upgraded its food options to include fresh–never frozen–burgers, loaded tots, and other delights for the baseball visitor. There are always the staples that include the always tasty Victory Dog ($4), loaded nachos at the salsa bar ($7.75), and Sun King beer that includes the exclusively produced Indians Lager–a Vienna Lager only found at the ballpark.
Indy Burger Kitchen offers the classic single or double burger ($10 to $12) along with tots at its own concession stand behind the backstop. The meat is never frozen and fans can load their tots with cheese, chili, peppers, or bacon for three dollars extra. There is also a shareable portion of tots with pulled pork, barbecue sauce, and peppers and onions for $7.50.
The Salsa Street kiosk has ultimate nachos and burrito bowls with beef, chicken, beans, salsa, sour cream, and cheese for $7.50. There is also the Hot Dog & Sausage kiosk that serves up foot long dogs ($7), brats ($5), and cheddar sausage ($5). The best part is that you can top your dogs and brats with Stadium Mustard from Cleveland.
The Coors Light Cove is an adult area that includes a separate ticket but offers menu items for all ticket holders. These new items are street tacos ($8 to $9) that are just as good as their price. Fans are able to choose from grilled chicken and steak or bacon and mac and cheese tacos.
The Indians have rolled out upscale hot dogs in partnership with Sun King. The Veal Brat is topped with caramelized mustard and beer-infused mustard; the Brisket Chorizo is topped with scrambled eggs, taters, grilled onions, and sriracha sauce; and the Victory Coney Dog is topped with Indians Vienna Lager Coney Sauce and beer cheese. There are even suggestions to pair these dogs up with a brand of beer from the brewery.
In the beverage category, Coors, Leinenkugel, and Budweiser products are served on draft for $7, while local craft brewery Sun King offers 16-ounce cans for $9. Sun King offers a variety of its beers from Pachunga Mexican-style Lager, Wee Mac Scotish-style Lager, and the popular Sunlight Cream Ale. Mixed drinks and wine can be found at The Cove for various prices. You can also find vendors hawking soda, beers, cotton candy, and peanuts in the stands.
On Monday, it is Dollar Menu Night featuring $1 hot dogs, sodas, popcorn, and peanuts at specific concession stands. This night is also extended to Thursday night for playoff games. Thursday nights, during the regular season, features Craft Beer Night that includes two pints of beer and a ticket for $20. The food at Victory Field does not try to reinvent ballpark cuisine, but rather, makes it a little bit tastier.
Stadium Journey tip – Get the loaded tots with pulled pork, cheese, and barbecue sauce and enjoy an Indians Lager or Pachunga Lager.
When you have a ballpark situated downtown, the views are spectacular throughout the concourse. There are two-tier seating and a long, lush grass berm area that is perfect for laying out on a blanket or enjoying a few snacks from your cooler. The berm is a favorite gathering spot for both your baseball and non-baseball fan to enjoy the game in unison; it is also a great place to get a tan. A lot of other ballparks have grass seating in the outfield, but here it is spacious and perfectly sloped for comfort.
The majority of visitors enter through the center field entrance under the arched signs of Victory Field into the PNC Plaza. This area offers the children’s play zone, access to lawn seats, and concession items. You will also find a few sellers offering a cold beer or cotton candy to everyone who walks through the entrance. Fans either walk to their seats, gaze at the surrounding views, or head to other concession areas of the stadium.
Then again, you may have a ticket in The Cove in the left field corner. A ticket will cost you $40, but you will have table-top seating with wait service and receive $10 towards food and drinks. The immensely popular section can handle up to 150 people per game and is usually sold out from June to September. It is a place for adults 21 or older to enjoy the game in a much prestigious setting at the ballpark.
Rowdie is the official team mascot and he can be seen throughout the game entertaining fans. If you are with children, the team offers carnival games behind the batter’s eye in center field. Kids can test their pitching arm, win prizes at ball tossing, or enjoy t-ball hitting, and water gun races. There is also a small team gear stand and food stand in this area.
The team’s official merchandise store is rather small, but there is a lot of great Indians swag for both men and women that pay tribute to the team’s long history. There is an additional store down the first base line. Also, look out for tables offering discounted shirts and caps during select times throughout the season.
The main concourse features heritage posters that pay homage to past greats including Harmon Killebrew, Roger Maris, Randy Johnson, George Foster, and current star Andrew McCutchen. Much of the Indians former hall of famers, all-stars, and championships are on display on the exterior of the outfield entrance.
Victory Field is located in downtown Indianapolis, and there are many options from hotels, bars, restaurants, and museums; albeit, many of them are chains, but there are a few places worth visiting before or after a game.
A great destination after the game would be Mass Ave. where the vibrant streets offer an array of dining and late night destinations. The Eagle has some of the finest fried chicken in the city, Bru Burger Bar is widely popular, but then again so is the taco and tequila bar Bakersfield. If you are looking for music, cocktails, and a cool vibe, make a visit to Union 50.
The downtown scene features many local breweries including Sun King, Flat 12, and TwoDeep. Tomlinson Tap Room and The Yard House feature even more craft beer choices from around the Midwest and the country.
If you are with the family, the Indianapolis Zoo and State Museum are within walking distance of the stadium and for a place, the kids will really enjoy, The Children’s Museum is just a few short miles north. The up and coming Fountain Square neighborhood is worth visiting as well with even more restaurants, shops, bars, and comedy clubs.
There is a question that lingers over each visit made to Victory Field. Are the fans here to watch baseball, or are they here for a nice night out with friends or family? It is solely about enjoying time outside, having a lazy afternoon, or enjoying a night with a group of friends or colleagues. It is a quintessential minor league baseball experience where fans come out in droves on the weekends, firework nights, and promotional Sunday afternoon games. The city fills up the place on a consistent basis year after year and there has rarely been a negative word said about Victory Field by any its fans or first-time visitors.
Moving around the concourse at Victory Field is simple and easy, markers are located for bathrooms, seating areas, and exits. Ushers are available to assist with seat location, and there are very few barriers in anyone’s way inside the facility. Concession booths are set up nicely around the stadium and there is free WiFi for patrons.
After and before the game, local police do a great job of making congestion dissipate on the streets and sidewalks outside of the main outfield entrance. The best way off I-70 is to exit 79A S. West St and proceed north until the stadium is on your left.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets for an Indians game will cost you between $9-$15 depending on where you want to sit. This is the average price point compared to other International League teams. Tickets to The Cove are $40 and feature table service, specialized menu, and a $10 voucher. The team offers its Dollar Mondays, Two for Tuesday specials, and Craft Beer Thursdays (ticket and two beers for $20).
Parking in the neighboring lots should cost you no more than $5, however, parking in the museum lot can run you $8. If you can find street parking, the prices are from $1.50-$1.75 an hour until 9 PM or if taking in a Sunday afternoon game, the meters are free of charge.
One extra point for the lawn seats in minor league baseball, the area is perfectly sloped and wraps around the entire outfield perimeter. Fans are also allowed to bring in a single-handed cooler no larger than 20 inches, sans non-alcoholic beverages and glass containers.
An additional extra point for the victory bell that gets rung after every Indians victory.
The collection of merchandise from the team’s illustrious history is worth an extra point. You can spot Cincinnati Reds era caps, Montreal Expos pinwheel caps and powder blue shirts, and Chicago White Sox era navy caps on fans throughout the ballpark.
One final extra point for the video menu boards at almost all concessions and kiosks throughout the facility. There are more and more ballparks catering to visual customers, but we all know that we eat with our eyes.
Victory Field is my minor league baseball headquarters. I have the opportunity to visit the spacious facility numerous times each year and see what is new. The Indians have made improvements this decade by removing the right field bleachers and replacing it with a patio deck, installing an LED ribbon board in right field, adding The Cove in the left field corner, and placing the victory bell for ceremonious ringing after each victory.
Certain nights and promotions are better than others, but it is a ballpark that feels new, clean, vibrant, and beautiful over 20 years into its existence. It’s not uncommon to have 12,000 fans at the stadium on a Friday Fireworks Night. If architects were to create a new ballpark for Indy, they would make it exactly like Victory Field.
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