Chronological Tour: Stop 338

Where Baseball Is a Natural Thing

Home-plate entrance to Arvest Ballpark, Aug-2008.

A good look at the seating configuration from just past the left-field foul pole.

As of 2008, those are still farms beyond the outfield, but that is subject to change.

Quick Facts: Rating: 4 baseballs
The population of this valley just west of the Ozark Mountains has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. People have found the 20-mile strip between Bentonville (home of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.) and Fayetteville (home of the University of Arkansas) quite attractive for relocation. The beauty of the nearby mountains, including the magical Eureka Springs 35 miles to the northeast, are one reason the Arkansas Legislature decided that the state nickname would be The Natural State, rather than The Razorback State.

Now that Northwest Arkansas has become a viable market, it figures that someone would decide to make a go of a baseball team here. Accordingly, the Wichita Wranglers were relocated to Springdale, in the heart of this population explosion, for 2008, and the team became known as the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.

Their stadium is the handsome Arvest Ballpark, sponsored by a local bank. Located a mile south of Sunset Avenue (US 412), the major east-west street in Springdale, and a half-mile west of I-49, the park is currently surrounded by farm fields. Cattle and horses were visible along 56 Street on the way to the park, and even while sitting in the first-base stands. Within a few years, however, the vicinity of the ballpark might well be developed just like most of Springdale east of the freeway.

As for the park itself, they got just about everything right. About the only thing I didn’t find here was an auxiliary scoreboard, but the main board is visible even from the grass berm in front of it. The park does face a rather conventional east-northeast, which minimizes the sun factor, although I could not tell on the night I attended, as it was cloudy with drizzle.

One unusual park feature is a picnic area directly behind home plate which can be reserved for private parties, but was wide open the night I attended. Another is a Wiffle Ball field down the third-base line which remains active until the sun goes down.

Even on a drizzly Monday night, the crowd, while not a sellout owing to the night and the conditions, was into the game. The folks up in Benton and Washington counties have been waiting for this for a while, and now they are thoroughly enjoying it. And in tribute to the team (and state) nickname, when a home team player hits a home run, the background music is the theme from the movie The Natural.

Game # Date League Level Result
945 Mon 11-Aug-2008 Texas AA NW ARKANSAS 10, Frisco 3
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