|If you enjoy being bombarded by advertisements, like watching television
commercials, and want to hear "shout-outs" from the PA announcer between
every pitch, then the new Veterans Memorial Stadium is the place for you.
Of all the parks I've been to, there aren't many that can match it in terms
of blatant commercialism. And it's a real shame since the old Vet's
Stadium was loaded with charm and had a nice laid back atmosphere. There
is nothing inherently wrong with the new ballpark - it has good sightlines,
tasty concessions, and plenty of fan amenities, but something just feels
off about this place. It is located adjacent to the old ballpark site,
which now serves as the parking lot (fortunately the parking is free). The
exterior is grayish in color, which makes for a unique, although not
entirely attractive look. The main entrance to the park is located on the
let field side, which makes sense since this is where the bulk of the
parking is. Fans enter onto the concourse which overlooks the field.
Unfortunately, the concourse does not wraparound the whole park as it does
at many of the new stadiums. The seating is made up mostly of red fold
down chairs. In addition there are bleachers along the right field line.
Picnic areas are located in the left field corner and in the upper deck
along the first base side. One nice feature of the grandstand is the large
overhang (similar to Wolff Stadium) which provides cover for a good portion
of the seating area. While not architecturally interesting, the roof is
probably there more as a nod to the old ballpark. Numerous concession
stands line the concourse and a grill is located along the 3rd base side.
Concessions are well varied (brats, pizza, Mexican, burgers, chicken
sandwiches), though prices are a bit on the high side (especially compared
to the old park). Fortunately, the quality of food (especially at the
grill) is very good. There is also a large team store which has a good
variety of merchandise as well as a hall of fame with some memorabilia from
famous Cedar Rapids players. As mentioned already, the atmosphere is the
area where I have the biggest complaint. Instead of on-field games between
innings, commercials are shown on the scoreboard. And while no sound
effects are played, the PA announcer more than made up for it with his
seemingly endless amount of shout-outs (Happy Birthdays, Happy
Anniversaries, etc.) Usually these are reserved for between one of the
innings, but here they are announced between pitches. Adding to the
annoyance of this is the fact that the PA system is garbled at times, which
makes the announcer hard to understand. If the team would just tone down
the commercialism a bit, the new Vet would be a much more enjoyable place
to see a game. But as it is now, while comfortable enough, it is simply
more irritating than it is fun.