This is the 11th and likely final 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.)
I was in Chicagoland on business during the 2011 World Series. As I drove back to my hotel one cold, October night to watch that epic Game 6, I passed by a pristine ballpark in the western suburb of Schaumburg.
I immediately looked up the background on this stadium, and it was complex.
In fact, the situation was so fluid that, while the new franchise had recently been established, much work lay ahead in preparation for a new team, front office, and facility that was not used for professional baseball in 2011.
Many issues remained unresolved with a fan base dealt a rough blow — nearly a million dollars in back rent and other unpaid bills after the Flyers folded and bolted in 2010 — but a totally new era of baseball in the Village began three months ago with a young skipper and even younger GM.
Boomers Stadium opened in 1999 and holds 7,365 spectators, more than 5,000 of which are fixed seats. The stands contain about 20 rows of seatbacks that flow into a shallow outfield, then a berm offers ample space. In addition, there are 16 luxury suites and a spacious, clean concourse.
Though the walking area does not wrap around, trees are lush beyond right field and a party zone and play area with tents for functions sits down the left field line.
A new playing surface and scoreboard were installed before the May 25th home opener that attracted more than 6,000 fans. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the franchise is the “Boomer” himself, as mascot “Coop” represents a clever choice with a local angle.
The dimensions of Boomers Stadium replicate those of nearby Wrigley Field.
Though it varies by day, night and wind, the ballpark seemed a pitcher’s yard, and the team’s solid pitching stats confirm that assumption.
The very professional and generous staff I encountered realized drawing fans in 2012 would be a challenge, yet Schaumburg finished in the middle of the league with roughly 2,500 per contest. With school back in session lowering crowds, there were 2,160 fans on the Tuesday night I visited, as the team captured a crucial win.
The Boomers, whose uniforms sport a Baltimore Orioles color scheme, have been as successful on the field this season as those Birds. They are in the race for division title or wild card as of this final weekend. And this seems to only be the beginning of a quick baseball recrudescence.