July 9th, 2018

Review: 2018 AAA Challenge-Skills-Derby (Part 1)

Day one is in the books!

Not bad, Columbus, not bad. Certainly not a perfect event, especially from a gameday experience standpoint, but it was a fun night of minor league festivities.

When I arrived at the ballpark, I was extremely happy to see that there was no security theater, like you see in most Major League parks, and some minor league parks, like the Tacoma Rainers’ Cheney Stadium (last years host venue).

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Once inside we proceeded to the Columbus Cargo shop on the right hand side. The shop, at least 2300 square feet, was very impressive, and featured a nice collection of general Clippers gear and All-Star commemorative gear.

Usually, these shops get pretty busy, but there were no lines as far as I could tell, which was good. I purchased a curved cap, with the commemorative logo on the front, my eighth.

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Once you exit the main store in left field, most fans will turn right into the main concourse, which will take you most of the way around the ballpark, but not all the way around.

The concourse itself is absolutely stunning. For a portion of time, it is tree lined, and even the covered sections are nice and have faux-wood finishes, which creates for an upscale but comfortable setting.

There was no giveaway at the gate, but each seat featured a t-shirt with a tonal version of the commemorative logo. There were six different t-shirt colors, each promoting a different group of players.

 

For example, as someone who was on the Orange team (sections 1 thru 4), I rooted for the players wearing the orange Pacific Coast League top. There were six different players in each game, the same number of color groups in the stands.

The Clippers were nice enough to provide all fans with the shirt of their size, so if you couldn’t fit into the shirt provided, you could exchange out your shirt with a staff member.

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Unfortunately, the Clippers placed too much trust in their fans. By the two hour mark (no innings to give relative time…) when the staff had left their post, these boxes were left out un-attended to the masses, in which people stuffed their bags with as many shirts as they could get their hands on.

Even at the end, people were walking around the seating areas grabbing un-claimed shirts, walking across the street, and selling them for $10.

Back inside the stadium however, I was impressed with all of the ballpark’s amenities. The restrooms were nice and clean, and there was a general admission porch in right field with a fantastic view of the game.

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As far as the eats were concerned, there was a good amount of ballpark favorites, and a few local places, like Bob Evans, a local burger place, and City Barbecue, the place where I got my food.

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The coleslaw was super fresh, and the pulled pork hit the spot, with tangy barbecue sauce. Overall, this was very good food for a minor league ballpark.

Stay Tuned for Part 2 of this review, coming out tomorrow! 

Triple-A Challenge and Derby Schedule

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Today, starting at 5pm through 10:30, part one of the Triple-A All-Star week in Columbus gets underway!

The gates at Huntington Park open at 5pm sharp, and once folks are inside, there will be an autographs session, which will run from approximately 5:15pm until 6:20pm.

Following the autographs, there will be an exhibition game, following the rules of 1880’s Base ball (yes, base-ball) featuring the Ohio Muffins (whoever they are…) against the local media.

Before the main event starts, there will be a flyover, and then the brand new Triple-A Skills competition gets going! This is brand new, as in years prior, the Home Run Derby was the only feature event on the Monday.

The Derby will still be held, just slightly truncated and not until 9:00pm.

Following all of the fun and excitement, there will be a fireworks show to send everyone off.

Be sure to follow along all night long on Twitter @NikoMetsPlus (including some live streams)!

 

The Venue: Huntington Park

Hello from Washington Dulles International Airport!

The last twenty four hours sure have been hectic. I re-booked myself at least four different times to try to find the most comfortable way to get to Columbus, Ohio, and I’m now lounge hopping in one of the world’s biggest airports (drafting this in the Turkish Lounge, will probably post in the British Airways Lounge or the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse).

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Anyway, as I depart from New York City and head to Columbus, I thought it would be a good opportunity to provide some fast facts on the venue of the upcoming Triple-A All-Star Game, Huntington Park!

The park, named after the Huntington Bancshares company, opened in 2009 (the same year as Citi Field), when it was named the Ballpark of the Year by Baseballparks.com, in a competition including all Major and Minor League parks (Wrigley, Fenway and Yankee Stadium included).

Huntington replaced the iconic Cooper Stadium, which was the home for minor league baseball in Columbus for just under a century.

The park, with it’s open concourses, seats approximately 10,100 folks, and has 12 luxury suites. The home club, the Columbus Clippers, is the Triple-A affiliate of the nearby Cleveland Indians.

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This is the first Triple-A All-Star Game for the park, but, as the main outdoor venue in Columbus, has hosted many concerts, and international sporting events.

The stadium is also one of the few in professional baseball that have no outfield wall advertisements, which amounts to a clean look for the park (Mets, take notes!)

I look forward to sharing my experiences at the ballpark later tonight and on Wednesday. Stay tuned!