|At least Knoxville (or Sevierville) did it right.
Unlike their neighbors to the south in Chattanooga, the Smokies actually
got a better park when they moved from their old one.
Bill Meyer Stadium
was a neat old park, but had clearly seen better days. If renovations
weren't going to be made to it, then building a new park was the next best
thing. Unfortunately, the park is built 20 miles outside of Knoxville
in Sevierville right of I-40. Smokies Stadium follows the 2000's model of stadiums, most resembling Lakewood's
GPU Energy Park
. The park is sunk in, so you enter on the concourse above the seating.
The concourse circles the entire park, though with group areas in left field and right field, it doesn't seem that fans are encouraged to venture into the outfield. Concession stands are numerous
and contain a decent variety of food at reasonable prices. Being a Cubs affiliate, they have two Chicago favorites available at a stand down the right field line - Italian beef and Chicago dogs. The seating
is mostly individual chairs with just a couple sections of bench seating.
There is no middle concourse here, so every seat is close to the field
and has good sightlines. Additional seating is available on the grass
berms in the outfield. The park is set into the side of a small mountain
and has a backdrop made up completely of trees, making for a very bucolic setting. A restaurant (The Batter's Box) is located down the third base line and is open
before and during the game. There is also a large gift store on the
first base side of the concourse. Parking is plentiful and $5. I
never saw a game at Bill Meyer Stadium, but to the average fan, I'm sure
Smokies Stadium is an improvement. Though to me, there is very little that is unique or memorable about the ballpark. After 20 years at Smokies Stadium, the team is looking to head back to Knoxville within the next few years, contingent on the city building a downtown ballpark for them.