It's easy for me to get jaded sometimes, comparing my local sights to more famous places, expecting them to compete. It's always great, though, when I find local places that not only stack up, but outshine the more famous ones.
That's definitely the case with Bayfront Stadium in Vince J. Whibbs Sr. Community Maritime Park, Pensacola, Florida.It's a beautiful stadium that was completed in April 2012. It's right on Pensacola Bay and it has to be one of the best locations for a stadium anywhere. Home runs to left field go into the water! The stadium is home to the Blue Wahoos, a AA minor league team of the Cincinnati Reds. Bayfront's been a huge spark for downtown revitalization .The place has limited parking, which encourages people to park downtown a few blocks away. Free transportation from Downtown is provided for those who don't want to walk.
BASEBALLPARKS.com named Bayfront Stadium ballpark of the year for 2012 and offered up a great review on the stadium and information on how the owners acquired the AA Minor League team. Read More: http://www.baseballparks.com/Pensacola-1.asp
According to the Blue Wahoo site,Turnkey Intelligence surveyed season ticket holders from 42 Minor League baseball teams in 2014 and the Blue Wahoos ranked 1st in all survey categories. The team's NPS (Net Promoter Score), a tool that ranks customer satisfaction across a lot of industries, was 83 compared to a 34 average score of the other minor league teams surveyed. The Wahoos had even a higher NPS score than Disney Theme Parks and Ritz Carlton.
Is the stadium experience that good? I really think so. I've been to the stadium twice so far and they've been my favorite stadium experiences anywhere by far. I even got to see free fireworks on both occasions .The first time I went was on the last home game of the 2014 season.Most seats were priced under $10 and I couldn't see a bad seat in the house.The attitude of the staff was as friendly as can be. The players played hard and were accessible to the fans. The stadium offered up good food at reasonable prices.
Between innings they had a lot of stuff going on, so there was never a dull moment.There were races for kids on the field. And in one inning the grounds crew even did a dance performance as they raked the infield. Other staff were throwing free merchandise and food to the crowd almost every inning. A lot going on even for the non-baseball fan. The second time I visited Bayfront was to see the movie Field of Dreams on the stadium's scoreboard. It was a free event that also had the field and locker room accessible to the public. It was a fun evening and a great place to watch that classic film.
The actual location of the Maritime Park used to have petroleum tanks and the neighborhood had a waste-water treatment plant nicknamed "Old Stinky." As with many stadium projects that use public funds, there was opposition locally to the project because of the bond issues, land issues and construction bidding. Even most critics now admit the stadium turned out beautiful and it has brought a lot of pride, jobs and construction to the area. Downtown is bustling before and after games now. It really has spurred a transformation to the area
A big thumbs up from me to both the stadium and the park. If you get a chance, visit.