Down on the Farm: Deep in the Heartland at ‘The Vet’

This is the seventh post in my 2012 “Down on the Farm” series that chronicles visits to various minor league parks throughout America. (Prior articles, including the entire 2011 edition, can be accessed here.)

Baseball in Cedar Rapids goes back more than 120 years to teams like the Canaries, Rabbits, and Bunnies.

There has now been a Midwest League team in town for the past half-century, and since 1993, the city has cheered on the Kernels.

 

 

I was pleased to immediately notice that Veterans Stadium treasures its history with displays of memorabilia on Suite Level, including photos and jerseys of old players. Posters and overhanging signs of past stars are visible throughout the main concourse, and a Cedar Rapids Pro Baseball Hall of Fame is located in the Team Store.

Additionally, the exterior is decorated by banners of former stars such as Trevor Hoffman, Eric Davis, John Lackey, and others as you approach from the parking lots. (Most recently, Mike Trout was a Kernel in 2009 and 2010.)

 

 

The franchise and city not only value baseball and farming, but those who serve in America’s Armed Forces as well.

The stadium’s site was originally chosen to honor World War II veterans, and therefore is adorned with artillery pieces and memorials outside the gates.

 

 

The current facility is a decade old, and in the same spot as old “Vet” (1949-2001) — perched on a bluff outside the quaint downtown in an old southwest side neighborhood with ample free parking.

It holds more than 5,000 and hosts more than 80 events each year.

 

 

Attending on a Monday night with MSF’s Amanda Lawson and Ryan Phillips, we were joined by 1,400 spectators, roughly 40 percent shy of the Kernels’ normal average.

 

 

Veterans Stadium offers a clean, open concourse — 32 feet wide actually — with excellent food options.

 

 

The ballpark plays large too, with dimensions of more than 400 feet to center field and the power alleys.

A tribute to the late Nick Adenhart, killed by a drunk driver April 9, 2009, a night after making and winning his first start for the Angels, is on the outfield wall. Adenhart played 16 games with the Kernels in 2006.

 

There are 12 modern luxury suites and a spacious press box above the stands, which is not necessarily common across the entire Class A Midwest League. (See past MWL reviews here, here and here.)

Seating is mainly of red fold-down chairs with a grassy berm on the left field side and bleachers along the right field line. Picnic areas are located in the left field corner, and there are a few rows of outdoor upper deck along the first base side, which may offer the best sightlines at The Vet.

 

 

To wrap this piece up simply: the place is unique and has character, plus history. And that ain’t bad.



About AJ Kaufman

A former schoolteacher and military historian, A.J. now works in public relations. As an MSF columnist since 2009, he supports anything baseball-related. Raised in San Diego, A.J. has since resided in numerous parts of America, including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington State. After departing the coasts in 2005, he's traveled the back roads of all 50 states and prefers the Heartland. Married to Maria, A.J. is the author of three books and enjoys reading presidential biographies.

Comments

  1. Looks like a nice stadium…its nice that they did the tribute for Adenhart. I think Mike Gonzalez played there with him in 2006–they were best friends. Yesterday, in Mike Gonzalez’ first win, he actually wore Adenhart’s glove as a tribute to him.

  2. You should make a visit to Louisville Slugger Field in Kentucky. Tom Nielson has done an amazing job with it: http://www.louisville.com/content/man-plan-nielsen-works-tirelessly-keep-slugger-field-best-sports

  3. AJ Kaufman says:

    Lived in Indy for five years, so was down there a few times. Great park.