Chronological Tour: Stop 165

The Park in the Middle of Nowhere

Walking into Five County Stadium, Sep-2007.

A look at the seating bowl, and Cattails restaurant, from the third-base bleachers.

The water tower beyond the scoreboard is painted like a baseball with a Mudcats logo.

Quick Facts: Rating: 3 baseballs
The Carolina Mudcats sell “fishing licenses” at the ticket windows (at least they did at one time), and they sell catfish inside. But while they said they put $15 million into renovating and expanding the 1991 park for 1999, the place looked somehow incomplete when I saw a game there in 1999.

The second-deck seating bowl was very short going around, on top of being rather steep, giving me a “little piece of a big stadium” feel. Worse yet, the place still seemed to be unfinished – the ticket sales and most of the concessions were out of trailers flanking the park. As it happened, renovations were still under way, and they were completed in 2000. I got back in November 2006 to reshoot the park, and I took these photos in September 2007.

Five County Stadium is out in the middle of no man’s land. Zebulon is a town of 3173 located 19 miles from Raleigh’s Beltline (the expressway ringing the state capital) and about the same distance from Wilson and Rocky Mount along I-95. That means there’s little to see from the park except one warehouse, a water tower painted with a Mudcats logo, and the pine trees that block the view of Route 264.

One saving grace here during the 1999 expansion was that the park was spotless, and there was a stand selling not only lemonade, but orangeade and limeade as well. The orangeade was tremendous; the lemonade, less so. The stand was still there on a 2007 visit, and the orangeade was just as good.

On that 2007 return trip, I found a park that was still quite serviceable, although they don’t have a white board for posting the lineups, so that the intense fan must listen for the announcer at the start of the game, or catch up as the game goes on. My other complaint remains with the park itself: the upper-deck stands are pitched very high. It does give a good view of the game, but those stairs can be quite difficult to navigate. Fortunately, there is good access to the lower stands, but there aren’t many of those.

In late 2010, an investor group announced that they were purchasing the Double-A Mudcats and moving them to Pensacola for the 2012 season. Mudcats management promptly arranged to move the Carolina League’s Kinston Indians to Zebulon, so that Zebulon would retain professional baseball through the transition.

A good look at the seating area as it stood during the 1999 renovation and expansion
Game # Date League Level Result
377 Thu 12-Aug-1999 Southern AA CAROLINA 13, Greenville 1
899 Mon 3-Sep-2007 Southern AA CAROLINA 4, Tennessee 3
1119 Sun 29-May-2011 Southern AA CAROLINA 14, Birmingham 5
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