|Thomas Stadium, located on the campus of Eastern Tennessee State University (ETSU), is a new ballpark which was dedicated and first used in 2012. Built for the college team, the ballpark got its first chance to host professional baseball in 2013 when the Johnson City Cardinals played two games here. While the ballpark is more modern and comfortable than the Cardinals' current home, a permanent move here is probably not imminent as the city is in the midst of some renovations to Howard Johnson Field (aka Cardinal Park). So it's not clear what the purpose of playing games at Thomas Stadium was or if the Cardinals will continue to play some games here in future years. The park does appear to be expandable if they ever needed to add capacity, though that would not be needed for the Cardinals.
- The seating bowl has a nice steep pitch to it meaning all seats have excellent sightlines. In addition, the concourse overlooks the field providing additional places for fans to watch the game from.
- The seats are all real fold-down chairs. While this isn't a big deal at most parks, for an Appy League park, this is something that is not so common. At Howard Johnson Field, there are only a few rows of real seats so most fans are forced to sit on metal bleachers.
- Fans enter the ballpark into a small rotunda that celebrates the history ETSU Buccaneers baseball. The rotunda features the bathrooms as well as a concession stand.
- Thomas Stadium is easy to get to (located at the intersection of State of Franklin Road and University Parkway) and has plenty of parking for the amount of fans the park holds.
- As can be expected from a ballpark located on a college campus, the red brick exterior is quite attractive and fits in with the surrounding buildings. Dorms provide the backdrop in left field, with some of the rooms having nice views of the field.
- The park has AstroTurf, something that becoming too common these days, especially at college ballparks. The fake grass has only made its way into a handful of affiliated ballparks so far.
- Too much netting obstructs many of the views. Only the seats furthest down the line have a complete unobstructed view of the field. The netting should always end the beginning of the dugouts, not the ends.
- The press box is on the concourse level (along with two pseudo luxury boxes). This causes a problem as fans walking by on the concourse block the views of those in these boxes. Apparently it is a known problem as during the Cardinals game they actually blocked off the concourse in front of the press box, meaning fans had to walk through the rotunda to get from one side of the park to the other.
- For the Appy League games, the team used the main concession stand located in the rotunda as well as an outside BBQ vendor who setup along the concourse on the first base side.
- Food selections included hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, and Italian ice.
- Prices are extremely affordable with nothing costing more than $3. Quality seemed good.
Overall I enjoyed my visit to Thomas Stadium. It is a unique park that would suit the Appalachian League well if the Johnson City Cardinals are ever looking to move to a better facility. But for now it will remain primarily a college ballpark.