This serves as the fifth post in my third season of a series called “Down on the Farm” that chronicles visits to various minor league parks throughout the 2013 campaign. (All prior editions can be accessed here.)
The Arkansas River, our nation’s sixth longest at nearly 1,500 miles, separates Little Rock from North Little Rock. And whereas most of the historic sites and skyscrapers sit on the water’s south side, sports facilities are located on the north. That includes Dickey-Stephens Park, conveniently perched at the north end of the Broadway Bridge.
I’ve visited or passed through the Little Rock Metro Area numerous times for business and pleasure, and always found something interesting to do. Whether a presidential museum, river market, historic school, longest pedestrian bridge on the continent, old or new capitol building, the city is under-appreciated — and as I have no ties to the area, so I’m certainly not biased.
Thus, I wasn’t surprised to enjoy Arkansas Travelers baseball on a perfect May evening with a brilliant view of the Little Rock skyline.
In just its seventh year of existence, since replacing 75-year-old Ray Winder Field, Dickey-Stephens boasts charming red brick entrances designed to resemble a train station, but also boasts modern appeal. The stadium is named for Little Rock native, 14-time World Series champion, Hall of Fame catcher and World War II veteran, Bill Dickey.
Parking is cheap, and if you arrive as early as we did, free, at spaces near North Little Rock’s charming downtown just a short walk away.
Tickets are also a bargain. We sat about 10 rows above the third-base dugout for a paltry $8 in shaded seats with the aforementioned spectacular urban view. Nearly all seats are close to the action, since the yard holds roughly 5,000 fixed seats, with another 2,500 on berms or in the popular Beer Garden.
Concourses are wide, there is a nice scoreboard in left field and aside from 12 luxury suites and the press box, there is no second deck above a wide lower bowl. Additional touches include a historical museum, a live organist behind home plate, and metal benches along the perimeter of the outfield, mainly occupied by teenagers escaping their parents. The aforementioned Beer Garden, as expected, was full of adults escaping the weekday grind.
The Travs average about 4,500 fans each opening — as they have the past few seasons — good for a spot in the middle of the Texas League pack. This number is more impressive considering the stadium’s relatively small capacity compared to other regional facilities.
The Los Angeles Angels Double-A affiliate since 2001, the Travelers currently top the North division as of this writing. Arkansas last won a league title in 2008, and has captured seven total crowns in nearly 50 years of Texas League competition.