The lower levels of Minor League Baseball can feature a lot of types of stadiums – from old and worn to modern with amenities.
State College, Pennsylvania – home of the Spikes – seems to have found a good mix of a new stadium with the feel that it’s not being overly done. That’s something to be appreciated.
The Spikes are the Single-A short-season affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The stadium in which they play is located on the campus of Penn State, in the shadow of the famed Beaver Stadium. That, of course, makes parking plentiful (though it did cost, if I remember right, $3). And if you get there early enough, as we did, you had the chance to walk around the massive stadium before heading over to the smaller, more comfortable Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
The stadium seats about 5,500 people and is home to the Penn State baseball team, as well as the State College Spikes. A nice piece to this stadium is being able to see Mount Nittany beyond the outfield wall.
To be honest, this is definitely one of the top New York-Penn League stadiums I have been to.
When entering, the team store is close by and, for a lower-level team, the store is stocked with everything one might need. The items – shirts, jerseys, hats, balls and most things you expect to find – are reasonably priced and there are plenty of sizes. With such a cool logo, I walked out with a nice shirt.
After exiting the store, the field is straight ahead, and is below the concourse level, so you walk down to your seats. The seats are of the fold-down variety, but are solid and roomy.
But, if you want to roam, you can do so and not lose sight of the game. There are picnic tables spread throughout the concourse area, as well as a picnic area in left field. Right field features an area with high-top tables, as well as a bleacher section at the top of the right-field wall. That’s a very cool aspect of the stadium, I thought. Kind of a “cheap seat” type feel, which is excellent for a baseball stadium.
The netting behind home plate extended a little further, it seemed, than many parks. I wasn’t a fan of how it was set up, either. I know teams do it differently, though.
My only other thought is it seems like there could have been a walkway around the whole park. It would have been nice to be able to walk around and catch the game from different vantage points. Also, there was a video arcade. I’m not a fan of this, mainly because when I go to a ballpark, I go to watch a game. I understand families attend, but if you’re going to let your kids hang out in a video arcade the whole time – why come to the park? To be fair, the few times I passed by it, I didn’t see many – if any – in there.
The concessions were pretty strong, including a Burgatory spot (very good burgers), a craft beer stand and a spot just for ice cream. There is also normal ballpark fare, but when I went to get lunch, my plan was a hot dog and a bratwurst (I think it was bratwurst…), but they didn’t have the specialty, so I just went with a couple of hot dogs. They were above average, but nothing fully special. Their fries were decent.
I attended on July 4, too, so the area was having a full celebration and fair of sorts. Later in the evening, they open the park up so people can watch the fireworks (which apparently are ranked No. 3 in the country – I can believe it). We took one of the high-top tables in right field and enjoyed the show, so that’s another bonus.
In the end, this is a solid, stadium and one worth attending. I had wanted to visit it for a bit, so it was nice to get down here and see a game. There wasn’t a bad seat in the house and with the roominess of the sitting area (good legroom, too), there wasn’t a chance of being crowded or feeling stuffy
Medlar Field at Lubrano Park
State College, Pennsylvania
Home of the State College Spikes (Short-season A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins)
Visited on: July 4, 2014
Opponent: Jamestown Jammers (Short-season A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates)
Ratings (out of 10):
- Stadium: 8.5
- Concessions: 7.5
- Parking: 8
- Ambiance: 8
- Friendliness: 9
I am embarking on a summer of baseball with the plan to hit a minimum of 10 stadiums this summer. Hopefully, there will be more than that. I will report on each park that I hit on the blog.
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