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First Impressions Of The New Saints Stadium

Some kinks need to be worked out. Some things have changed. Some charms remain.

The loneliness of the long-distance, independent league outfielder.
The loneliness of the long-distance, independent league outfielder.

It's too loud. It's WAY too loud. Speakers are cranked up to 11 and reverb distortion makes you miss half the silly announcer commentary.

People all around me were hugging, exchanging opinions about the new ballpark. I'd always seen Saints games as a kind of goofy thing, and that's certainly part of their appeal. They also seem to be a tight community, who bond over their offbeat/underdog status while totally accepting (if gently razzing) newcomers. I hadn't noticed the community aspect before. It's genuine.

Are the concessions more expensive? Yep. About hallway between what they cost at Midway and what they'd cost at Target Field. Worse, the lines are abysmal. That'll change as attendance drops past opening weekend, but it may not get much better. At Midway, you could wait in long lines near the front gate for food . . . or sneak behind the third-base bleachers for far shorter lines. There are no hidden concessions stands at CHS Field.

The best new development is how seating rows are so adequately spaced, you don't need to stand up whenever someone goes potty or for a beer run.

Speaking of beer, there's a craft beer bar past the left field foul pole (where Midway had something similar.) It's $6.50 for a top-notch local beverage, which is an amazing price. It's an actual bar, with barstools. A nice place to chill and watch the game if there weren't 50 people in line behind you waiting for service. (The folks who sat at this bar trying to chat up busy bartenders serving customers in line . . . c'mon, I know you were first to a nifty new ballpark feature, but be less dickish about it.)

Not far from that craft beer bar the field looks like this:

How the new Saints experience is going to work out will be determined with time. One can see aspects which could kick butt with some polish, and things really needing fixing (horrid speaker volume.) It's also hard not to wonder what the Saints' future will be in a market building new stadiums like a Sim City gamer on coke. Studies I've read indicate that new stadiums don't increase entertainment spending, they merely shift it around. I was happy to see old-school Saints fans getting emotional; this is a good sign.

For an outside perspective, I took my visiting brother from Oregon, and he basically liked the experience. "They try too hard, and not all the comedy works, but it's kind of endearing," he said. He didn't like having Gert The Flirt stick a rubber snake in his ear while he was minding his own business ("she yelled 'Gotcha!,' like I was fooled somehow") and wasn't quite sure how to take Seigo Masubuchi singing karaoke ("that seems a bit exploitative.")

I'll leave y'all with the old Midway stadium mural, recreated at CHS, in the least jiggly photo I took.