O'Brien Field
Peoria, Illinois
Year Opened
2002

Current Team
Peoria Chiefs

Affiliate
Chicago Cubs

League
Midwest League

Capacity
6,500

My Grades
Stadium B+ Atmosphere C- Concessions C

Photos taken in 2003
Sometimes I wonder if new ballparks are built more for the player's needs than those of the fans. O'Brien Field is a good example of this. While it is a nice new ballpark, and clearly an upgrade over Vonachen Stadium, does it really offer a lot more ? Obviously the people of Peoria don't think so as they are not exactly coming out in large numbers. I attended a game here in 2003, and it was once of the more depressing experiences I've had at a ballpark, despite it being a beautiful August evening. O'Brien Field is almost an exact replica of Gary's new ballpark. It features an open concourse that runs almost all the way around the park (just a small bridge is missing in center field). The concourse is very wide and features copious space for handicapped seating - more than I've ever seen at any park. There is a grassy berm along the first base side and in left field. An interesting feature of O'Brien field is the palm trees. They line the outfield concourse as well as being part of the landscaping outside the park. Unfortunately, the trees looked a bit sickly, so this experiment, while a unique idea, may not work. For a brand new park, the concessions are quite poor. Only one of the concession stands was open and it only had a limited selection of items (brats, pork chop sandwiches, hot dogs). Because of the several concession stands that were closed, the concourse had a very barren feel to it. Also, because of only one stand was open, lines became quite long. The atmosphere was quite dull as there didn't seem to be many families in attendance and most of the people seemed to be approaching senior citizen age (if they weren't already there). The team tried to get people to dance - they played the Macarena, the chicken dance, and the YMCA, but people didn't seem too interested. The Chiefs also have an annoying on-field DJ who thought he was the entertainment for the evening. Too bad that most of the crowd was ignoring him. There was some music played between batters, but fortunately there were no sound effects used. A nice video board is located in right field, but it was mostly used to show the live play by play of the game - something that should be banned in baseball parks. One other complaint I had was about the starting lineups. They were announced 45 minutes prior to the start of the game, before most of the people had even gotten to the park. Just silly. O'Brien Field is located in downtown Peoria, so parking is somewhat limited. The nearest parking is $4. There is nothing inherently wrong with O'Brien Field - it should serve Peoria well for many years to come. It just doesn't seem like there is great interest in baseball in this city, so what you end up with is a dull atmosphere in an ordinary new ballpark.
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All Photos Copyright Brian Merzbach
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