The morning after the rainout between the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays, I loaded my car and set my GPS for Toledo, OH. If you’re ever watching a Tigers game in Detroit, and have time to spare, I recommend checking out the Mud Hens. Toledo is less than an hour’s drive from D-Town, and their stadium, Fifth Third Field, is a nice place to watch a game.
After about 55 minutes of listening to sports talk radio hosts and callers complain about LeBron (I was in Ohio, after all), I arrived in downtown Toledo and easily found parking a block from the stadium for $5.
The game was slated to begin at 10:30 a.m., which is definitely the earliest game I’ve ever attended. Minor League teams have the occasional matinée on their schedules to accommodate school groups. For the record, I am not a big fan of going to school day games (read: shrieking kids, long lineups and more shrieking kids) but today’s game time was perfect. After the game, I’d have time to drive straight to Fort Wayne, IN, which was more than four hours away.
Anyway, there were already tons of school groups milling around in front of Fifth Third Field when I got there, but there were no lines at the box office as I bought my ticket:
When the gates opened at 9:30 a.m., I took a brief look at the team store before it got too crowded:
And took a walk down the concourse:
Here’s a look at Fifth Third Field from right field before it got too crowded:
This ballpark has several neat features, including a bar in the right field corner:
Cupholders along the outfield fence:
An ample-sized kids’ play area:
And a party deck area in right field:
Pretty soon, the Mud Hens came out to stretch and sign autographs. I didn’t even try to get close to the fence, as I would’ve had to trample a bunch of 6th graders:
The food at Fifth Third Field was pretty standard (more on that later) but one concession stand that did catch my eye was one offering baked goods:
There was a Snickers pie, chocolate tuxedo mousse, brownies, cookies, squares, tarts and all sorts of good stuff. Of course, diving into this at 9:45 a.m. wouldn’t result in anything positive, so I abstained.
The kids, however, were immediately into the soft drinks and cotton candy upon their entrance to the stadium. I definitely felt bad for the teachers and chaperons.
I fought my way behind home plate to take a panorama before it got too crowded:
And when the game was just beginning, I lined up forever to get a steak sandwich, fries and coleslaw. (For the record, this was the earliest I’ve ever eaten this meal.)
The sandwich itself is buried in this photo, but it tasted good.
I spent a handful of innings sitting on a picnic table in center field with this view:
For the rest of the game, I moved to the third base side and had a great view of the action:
For whatever reason, this game just didn’t do it for me. Sure, the screaming school kids didn’t help, but there wasn’t anything that really jumped out at me about this stadium. It’s a nice, clean, modern facility. As far as bells and whistles, though?
I also found the ushers are MLB-style, meaning they’re way too strict about where you can and can’t go.
Take a look at the ballpark’s official seating chart below:
I had a $9 ticket in section 106, but when I tried to go up into The Roost, which ESPN apparently calls the “best seats in the Minors,” I wasn’t allowed. Now, I can understand preventing people from buying cheap seats and getting closer to the action. But buying a dugout seat and trying to see a section as far away as it gets? Nope, sorry. The worst part was, it didn’t appear as though the area was booked for a party, and it was definitely three-quarters empty.
Anyway, like I said, Fifth Third Field is a nice place. When you can’t move freely from section to section, though, especially at a MiLB facility, it’s a big negative in my books. Still, if you’re a baseball fan, you’ll like it here. The outfield area has plenty of standing room and terrace areas, which is great if you enjoy leaving your seat and getting a bit of space.