Chronological Tour: Stop 381

There Is a Game Going On Here

Main (Broadway) entrance to CHS Field, Sep-2015.

Looking into the seating area from the right-field foul pole.

A game in progress as seen from directly behind the plate.

Quick Facts: Rating: 4 baseballs
The St. Paul Saints left Midway Stadium, on Snelling Avenue near the state fairgrounds, after the 2014 season for this new park in the Lowertown section, within walking distance of Union Depot, the historic rail station that serves the Minnesota state capital.

Midway, which was built in 1982 and never intended as a professional baseball park, acquired the Saints in 1993 at the founding of the Northern League and quickly acquired a reputation as one of the most fun places to watch a game. Team ownership, while respecting the game itself, also bent over backwards to make the entire experience enjoyable, win or lose. As a result, there were evenings when the Saints outdrew the Twins, who were playing ten miles away at the inhospitable Metrodome through the 2009 season.

The Saints have now transferred, or attempted to transfer, the experience to this new facility. The combination of an established and recognized team and the novelty of the park meant numerous sellouts in the inaugural season of CHS Field (the holding company for agricultural co-op Cenex is the naming sponsor).

Getting to the Game

The Metro Transit agency that serves the Twin Cities recently completed a light rail line that runs directly between Target Field in Minneapolis and CHS Field. (As of late in the 2015 season, the Saint Paul terminus was still at Union Depot, but a three-block extension to a new terminus within the ballpark itself had already been built and will be providing service in 2016.)

The only drawback I found to the light rail service was the amount of time it takes to travel from some suburban regions using it. I stayed in Bloomington, near the Mall of America, which also has a light rail line that passes the airport and continues to Target Field. To ride to CHS Field from there would have taken at least 70 minutes, perhaps longer based on connection time in downtown Minneapolis. There is no direct line from Bloomington to Saint Paul, nor is one planned according to Metro Transit. There are buses that travel between those two cities, but they don’t exactly constitute “rapid transit”.

Many fans who don’t live near the field-to-field Green Line light rail drive to the park. Lowertown is a congested area with little parking. There are garages west of the park, or one can take advantage of on-street parking about half a mile away. On-street parking near the field is extremely limited and metered.

Watching the Game

Perhaps owing to the presence of rail lines and highways in the immediate area, all of which have to deal with the Mississippi River three blocks from the park, there is only one entrance. Everyone enters and leaves from Broadway (or Broadway Street, as it’s shown on street signs). This is the third-base side of the field; there is no home plate entry. This can lead to egress congestion; fortunately, the game I attended ran a little long and it didn’t take that long to leave the park.

Most of the park has no cross aisle; the exception is behind the plate, where an aisle separates the close-in premium box seats from the next lowest level.

You do pay a premium for the premium seats; however, tickets are sold for as little as $7. These are standing room tickets, good for the concourse and the outfield berm areas and also sold when the rest of the park is sold out. One drawback is that the concourse is narrower than it could be, and so it can get very congested, especially in concession areas.

As is common nowadays, there is hardly a bad seat in the house. Even the picnic and party areas down the line are tiered so they have a good view of the playing field. There is also a sizable (and attractive) suite level that also contains the press box.

Enjoying the Game

Concessions are on the high end of the scale, but the offerings are varied and you typically get what you pay for. As noted above, the concession areas can be very narrow. The park also has a concession stand called Mud’s near center field which sometimes has shorter lines.

The park has a walk-around concourse as well as the requisite kids’ zone and beer garden.

“Fun Is Good” is the motto of the Goldklang Group, which owns several minor, independent, and college summer league teams. The Saints are their flagship, and nowhere do they emphasize the fun more than here. For instance, the center field concession noted above has an ice cream stand known as Mud’s Dairy Area. Fittingly, this is at the rear end of the ballpark.

The team has also retained its signature pig, who comes out between innings and brings water to the umpires among other duties. Their primary mascot is also in a pig costume.

I found the public address announcer at the Saints game to be even more irritating than the one at the Hudson Valley Renegades, also a Goldklang Group team.

Remarkably, many fans have acquired the ability to tune out all the distractions and pay attention to the product on the field. I noticed that a good portion of the crowd was actually into the game rather than merely there for the other fun stuff.

Game # Date League Level Result
1424 Tue 1-Sep-2015 American Assn Ind. ST. PAUL 6, Gary 2
Return to the Stadiums page
Return to Charlie’s home page

Site and images Copyright © 2015 Charles O’Reilly. All rights reserved.
This page updated 13-Aug-2016