On the Road: Back to the Basics in Burlington
The Bees play at Community Field, a no-frills bleacher-centric facility. There is no videoboard, vendors, wacky theme nights, or architectural quirks, and the mascot presence is minimal at best.
Such Minor League accoutrements are what fuel the Ben’s Biz Blog engine, and in Burlington they are decidedly lacking.
But guess what? I loved it there.
The Bees are a labor of love, a small-market community-owned team whose idea of game presentation is to simply present a game. A timeless feeling prevails and there is charm to spare.
After navigating my way through Burlington’s poorly-marked maze of street detours, the abundant greenery of Community Field’s parking lot was a welcome sight indeed.
After doing a pre-game interview with Bees radio announcer Nick Devlin, I was set loose to explore the stadium grounds. Community Field was built in 1947, but the grandstand burned down in a 1971 fire. It was re-built by volunteers and re-opened in 1973, and in 2004 came further renovations and additions (info on this, and much more, can be found in my MiLB.com story).
By my estimate, there are at least two dozen teams that claim to have “the biggest videoboard in Minor League Baseball”. Therefore, it was refreshing to visit a stadium that doesn’t even have a videoboard.
One of the old-fashioned light towers, pretentiously shot:
Down the first base line, stadium regular “Dancin’ Bobby” lives up to his name by enthusiastically dancing to each and every song that comes over the PA.
The Lip Land Kid’s Area (I believe it is sponsored by a chicken-centric local restaurant, but I’ll have to get back to you on that).
But, really, the whole park was a kid’s area.
The visitor’s bullpen is located far down the right field, next to an isolated equipment storage area.
Their home counterparts are in a better location, naturally. A stoic mannequin stands guard over a bunch of goofballs.
A contingent of long-time season ticket holders hold court alongside the the third base line. They’ve got personalized nameplates and everything.
Fans can get plenty close to the third base dugout, including kids who slap gloves with the players as they make their way back from the field.
Of course, I was intrigued by what the concession stand might offer.
Let’s take a look!
I was told that the Bees Rite was “like a sloppy Joe”. This didn’t sound very exciting, so I opted for the Lippy Dog.
I know what you’re thinking — In a literal sense, isn’t every hot dog a “Lippy Dog”? Well, this wasn’t a hot dog. It was crispy chicken smothered in buffalo wing sauce and ranch dressing.
The Lippy Dog was really good, actually, and I devoured it. I then went back to the concession stand for that Midwest specialty — “The Tenderloin” (ie fried pork). These things are just comical.
The food might not have been healthy, but at least my appetite was. Usually when I’m on the road, anxiety and time constraints limit me to a diet of ranch Corn Nuts and Mello Yello. This worries me.
But this was not a night to be worried. Burlington’s relaxed, baseball-first environment helps to settle the mind.
The Bees won, 6-1, at which point all fans were invited to come onto the field and run the bases. My pictures of this portion of the evening didn’t come out, but I did get a mediocre picture of the press box.
And that’s the Bee-all end-all of this particular post. Sorry that the ending was such a Buzz kill, but I’m pollen another all-nighter here and just about out of stings to say.