|After 24 years of playing in Fort Mill (SC), the Charlotte Knights returned to their namesake city in 2014. Though Knight's Castle was originally touted as a ballpark that could be converted into a major league ballpark, it quickly became outdated primarily because of its remote location and lack of intimacy. So when they decided to build a new ballpark, the Knights made sure they fixed both of those problems. BB&T Ballpark is a downtown ballpark with all the bells and whistles that a AAA venue needs. It may not break any new ground, but it has enough distinctive features to make it one of the top AAA ballparks in the country.
- The ballpark is located in what is known as "Uptown" Charlotte, just a couple blocks from Bank of America Stadium (football home of the Carolina Panthers). It is extremely easy to get to with plenty of parking available in surface lots or garages. Most is priced at a reasonable $5.
- Murals of Charlotte's past ballparks adorn the exterior on the third base side. This is a great nod to the history of baseball in Charlotte. The exterior features three entrances, though interestingly there is not one behind homeplate. The main entrance is actually located in the right field corner.
- The skyline view is simply one of the best in all the minors. They could not have chosen a better location to get such a great backdrop. The view is especially good from along the third base line.
- As with almost every new ballpark, there is a full wraparound concourse that allows fans to wander around during the game. Counters are plentiful, which allow for fans to enjoy their food while standing in the concourse.
- A play area is located behind the batter's eye in center field. It features several different games which are all $1 to play.
- A large team store is located right inside the main entrance in the right field corner.
- For fans who like to sit in the outfield, there are real seats located behind both the right field and left field walls. In addition, there is the usual berm seating available.
- In what is becoming a trend at AAA ballparks, a club area behind home plate blocks the view from the concourse.
- The video board in left field is nice, but the lack of a dedicated linescore is a negative in my book. If you can't look up and see what the score is at any time, that is a problem. When tens of millions are spent on a ballpark, not having a dedicated linescore seems petty.
- Views from behind the dugout are obstructed by a small net which is meant to protect fans from foul balls who are seated in the first few rows. Unfortunately, it obstructs about the first 10 rows of seating. Of course foul balls are rarely hit there, so the net is mostly just for show.
- Behind home plate there is a nook where a few picnic tables have been placed, but this area seems underutilized and a bit of an afterthought.
- Like most other newer AAA ballparks, too many of the seats are in the outfield (past the bags) and thus the sightlines aren't that great. I prefer a design more like Victory Field in Indianapolis that has a small upper deck which provides additional infield seating.
Despite the glowing reviews I had heard about BB&T Ballpark (including Baseball America naming it the "Best Ballpark" in the minors), I was skeptical about how much I would like it. But I came away impressed. The downtown location gives it a sense of place, the seating options are plentiful, and the concessions are excellent. Other than the excessive netting above the dugouts, there is little not to like about BB&T Ballpark. It is probably in my top 5 of all the AAA ballparks I've seen.
- BB&T Ballpark has a great variety of food options at various concessions stands and portable carts scattered throughout the concourse. Prices are slightly above average for a AAA ballpark.
- Being in the south, BBQ is a must. Here they have two stands (one on each side of the ballpark) run by Queen City Q, a local restaurant located in downtown Charlotte. They offer up pulled pork and brisket sandwiches as well as a few different sides.
- For those fans looking to eat a bit healthier, there is a "Just Fresh" stand which sells salads and wraps.
- Other food options include Chick-Fil-A, burgers, specialty hot dogs (including the Carolina dog), Domino's pizza, and Mexican.
- Numerous craft beers are available as well, a fad which is coming to almost every ballpark, old and new alike.