|Chronological Tour: Stop 154
Watchin’ da Game from da Levee
Home plate entrance to Zephyr Field, Jul-2013. This is not visible from Airline Drive.
The seating bowl, as seen from “da Levee” in right field.
A view from the upper deck behind the plate.
- Location: Airline Drive (Route 61) at Elise Avenue, Metairie, La. (3½ mi. east of New Orleans airport) (map it using Google Maps)
- Opened: 1997 as Zephyr Field
- Additional names: Shrine on Airline (2017)
- Home team: New Orleans Zephyrs (1997-2016), Baby Cakes (2017-present), Pacific Coast League
- Capacity: 11,000
When Denver got a Major League Baseball team in 1993, the Zephyrs, who had occupied Mile High Stadium for years, were forced to relocate. They landed in New Orleans, keeping the Zephyrs name and playing at Privateer Field on the campus of the University of New Orleans for four seasons. In 1997, they moved west, to this new ballpark in Metairie (Jefferson Parish). The field is located in a complex, owned by the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District, that also includes the practice facilities for the NFL New Orleans Saints and, recently, the NBA New Orleans Pelicans.
For 2017, the club finally dropped the Zephyr name in favor of the Baby Cakes. This also prompted the team to start referring to the ballpark as “the Shrine on Airline”, referring to the road on which it is located.
Getting to the Game
The park is on Airline Drive, an east-west road that is also US 61. The route, which starts in downtown New Orleans, passes Louis Armstrong International Airport west of the park before turning northward, following the Mississippi River as it continues all the way to Minnesota. Several local roads connect I-10 with US 61, but none comes in right at the ballpark.
There is a charge to park in the stadium lot. As of 1999, it was $3. I did not check the parking fee in 2013; each time I have gone to a game here, I have stayed in a motel across Airline Drive within walking distance of the field.
Buses do run along Airline Drive, but I am not sure whether they service the ballpark at convenient hours, especially after a game.
Watching the Game
Zephyr Field is a double-deck ballpark. The lower deck extends down both foul lines, while the upper deck is much shorter. However, unlike some other Triple-A parks such as Norfolk and Syracuse, the upper deck includes seating directly behind home plate (in front of the press box), making it a wonderful spot from which to watch the game. At the game I attended in 2013, I was able to turn around and say hi to color commentator Ron Swoboda between innings.
In addition to the sizable seating bowl, there is a grass berm in right field, which the club appropriately calls “da Levee”.
The lineups are posted on whiteboards on a pillar behind home plate, along with the league standings. However, there is no free handout program, and as of 2013, the club charges 50 cents for a single sheet with both teams’ rosters.
Enjoying the Game
Concessions at Zephyr Field are reasonably priced. Besides the standard ballpark fare, you can also order some of those great “only in Nawlins” dishes like gumbo.
The park was one of the first to include a swimming pool in the outfield. The pool is beyond the right-field wall, between da Levee and the foul line, and is generally reserved for private parties. There is also a left-field party deck, but it was not open for the game I attended in 2013.
Also, the concourse does not wrap completely around the park, a defect that seems like it would be rather easy to fix. There may be wetlands mitigation issues in doing so; after all, much of lower Louisiana, including lots of New Orleans, is wetlands.
Return to the Stadiums page
Return to Charlie’s home page
Site and images Copyright © 2013 Charles O’Reilly. All rights reserved.
This page updated 1-Feb-2017