I have just returned yesterday from my big trip of the summer which took me through the upper midwest. Saw games in 12 new parks (and 15 overall) and had the best weather I've ever had on a trip. I'm sure glad I wasn't touring down south this year ...
Full reviews and photos will be coming soon to my website, but until then here are some quick comments on the new parks I saw games in :
Appalachian Power Park (Charleston, WV) - the downtown location is great and the structure a bit different, though it does need some covering (a canopy is supposedly in the works). I love the old building they have incorporated into the park.
Champion Window Field (Florence, KY) - a very typical FL park, similar to both Gateway and River City. The multi-colored seats are ugly, but they didn't bother me as much as the annoying Rascal fans. Obviously the team has some public perception issues to overcome as the fans are not coming out in droves.
Silver Cross Field (Joliet, IL) - the actual structure doesn't break any new ground, but I love the setting. It is nestled nicely into the downtown where it seems there is quite a bit or nightlife.
Hawkinson Ford Field (Crestwood, IL) - a funky little stadium, as many of the FL parks are. Being so close to Chicago I would expect them to be a better a draw. But now I know why - anyone that needs to drive south on Cicero Avenue to get there wouldn't bother fighting the traffic.
Pohlman Field (Beloit, WI)- a rather crappy stadium, but a great community feel. And how can you not love a park where the fans get more excited about "Roll Out The Barrel" than "YMCA" ?
Veterans Memorial Stadium (Cedar Rapids, IA) - while the park itself is fine (except the lack of a wraparound concourse), the numerous commercials and shout-outs from the PA announcer make for an annoying experience. It's almost as if they wanted to make the experience the exact opposite of the old Vet.
Lewis and Clark Park (Sioux City, IA) - a generic ballpark with a lousy setting. Probably the most unmemorable stop on my trip.
Sioux Falls Stadium (Sioux Falls, SD) - if you didn't know there was an old park, you'd think it was built brand new within the past decade. I love the elevated berms down the 3rd base line. Great eats and a lively atmosphere make this park a treat.
Newman Outdoor Field (Fargo, SD) - not the greatest of settings (college campuses usually aren't), but still an intimate park with a good atmosphere.
Fox Cities Stadium (Appleton, WI) - another uninspired setting for ballpark. While the park itself is fine (very similar to South Bend), the atmosphere was a bit over the top and fans seems more excited about getting free stuff rather than the game. Also, the brats were losuy which should NEVER be the case at a Wisconsin ballpark.
Community Field (Burlington, IA) - renovations over this past offseason have added a new building (for concessions, gift store,ticket office) and a large roof over the concourse and part of the grandstand. Like Beloit, it has a great community feel as everyone seems to know one another.
Oldsmobile Park (Lansing, MI) - unlike most downtown ballparks, this one doesn't feel intimate at all. Too much bench seating and the sightlines aren't the greatest. At least the concessions are top-notch.