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6 Fun Minor League Ballparks

Travelers find local flavor and a casual vibe at baseball games in these great towns

spinner image Nashville Sounds
Nashville Sound

Minor league baseball is back! After pandemic-restrictions erased the 2020 season, the minor leagues resumed play this May to the delight of players and fans in 120 cities and towns across the country. The teams’ smaller ballparks create casual settings closer to the players, with cheaper tickets and concessions than their major league counterparts. The minor league baseball park experience is one that Minor League Baseball Communications Director Jeff Lantz likes to compare to “the front porch of communities, a place to hang out and chat over a couple beers and hotdogs."

But it's not just locals enjoying the games. Travelers on road trips around the country can take in a ballgame and a slice of regional life in a family-friendly setting. And who knows, you may see a future Hall of Famer performing for you and a couple thousand fans on a warm night with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes or the Fort Meyers Mighty Mussels.

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The minor leagues have a tradition of wacky promotions, and 2021 is no exception, with hand sanitizer and toilet paper giveaways, along with more traditional events like dollar hotdog days and postgame fireworks.

While there are great minor league experiences all around the country, we've highlighted six ballparks that host Class AAA teams (the closest to the majors) in tourist-friendly towns, where the stadium experience makes it well worth a visit. But you can also check out the Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams page, and likely find a team close to wherever you happen to be visiting.

All stadiums are ADA compliant. Many ballparks have (small) senior discounts, and some Senior Day specials. Most teams began the season with limited capacity due to the pandemic, but are now shifting to full capacity as states’ regulations change — check out an individual team's website for the latest updates.

The minor league season continues through mid September, with about 60 home games for each team. So there's still plenty of time to grab some dollar dogs and enjoy an evening with the Rocket City Trash Pandas or the Hartford Yard Goats, or wherever your road trip happens to take you. Play ball!

spinner image The Albuquerque Isotopes mascot, Orbit
ZUMA / Alamy Stock Photo

Albuquerque Isotopes, New Mexico

Location: Rio Grande Credit Union Field
Ticket prices: $14-$32
AAA affiliate of: Colorado Rockies

With a name referencing nearby nuclear research facilities as well as an old Simpsons TV episode, the Albuquerque Isotopes have become a local favorite since their park opened in 2003. The team averages more than 560,000 fans per season who enjoy the cool desert nights, as well as taking selfies in front of the Simpsons statues that dot the park. Mariachi nights and green chili cheeseburger specials give the stadium experience a local flavor. The team temporarily transforms into the Mariachis de Neuvo Mexico each year as part of Hispanic cultural Copa del Diversion series. And in the spirit of the Isotopes, you can combine a ballgame with a visit to the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, about six miles from the stadium.

spinner image Buffalo Bison
Buffalo Bisons

Buffalo Bisons/Toronto Blue Jays, New York

Location: Sahlen Field
Ticket prices: $29 and up for the Blue Jays; $15 and up for the Bisons
AAA affiliate of: Toronto Blue Jays

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Just 20 miles from Niagara Falls, on the Lake Erie waterfront in Buffalo, Sahlen Field is a great place to catch a ballgame on any northern New York trip (and is conveniently located next to the Amtrak station). This summer, due to cross-border COVID-19 restrictions, the park is serving as home field for Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays. This means you'll be able to catch big league talent in a smaller minor league ballpark (albeit with major league ticket prices for the duration). The AAA Bisons have been temporarily evicted to play in Trenton, New Jersey, but may return if the situation changes — see their website for the latest information.

spinner image Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Rose-Marie Murray / Alamy Stock Photo

Durham Bulls, North Carolina

Location: Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Ticket prices: $11-$26
AAA affiliate of: Tampa Bay Rays

While the famous Bull Durham film with Kevin Costner celebrating minor league life was filmed at the old Bulls stadium, Durham's Athletic Park (built in 1995) still features the same small town charm — and the “Hit Bull- Win Steak” billboard from the movie. Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer, is a proud Durham Bulls alum — and, who knows, you may see the next superstar in action here. Just outside the stadium, the American Tobacco Campus — once the site of production facilities of many tobacco brands, including Bull Durham — now hosts a huge retail, dining and entertainment complex with nine bars and restaurants, including the Tobacco Road Sports Café, which serves up fried green tomatoes and “Frizzled and Grizzled” chicken.

spinner image Nashville Sounds
Nashville Sounds

Nashville Sounds, Tennessee

Location: First Horizon Park
Ticket prices: $10-$42
AAA affiliate of: Milwaukee Brewers

In America's Music City, hear the sweet sounds of ball against bat and the cheer of the crowd at the Nashville Sounds’ stadium, complete with a giant guitar-shaped scoreboard in right field. In addition to fireworks nights and kids-run-the-bases days, the Sounds also have regular “Country Legends” souvenir giveaways, and special promotions including all-you-can-eat (and drink!) BBQ picnic packages. And you can't really be more Tennessee than hosting games in central Nashville, blocks from both the Cumberland River and the State Capital buildings. Fuel up before a game at the nearby Von Elrod's Beer Hall and Kitchen, or try some Nashville style hot chicken and waffles at the Third and Home sports bar.

spinner image Reno Aces
Wirestock, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

Reno Aces, Nevada

Location: Greater Nevada Field
Ticket prices: $12-$36
AAA affiliate of: Arizona Diamondbacks

Spectacular desert sunsets over neon-lit casinos behind the stadium, rodeo nights, and a smattering of cowboy hats and boots among fans make you realize this isn't your typical ballpark. The “Biggest Little Ballpark” in the country, as team president Eric Edelstein calls the Aces’ home field, is an appropriate moniker in the “Biggest Little City” of Reno. Their giant red Sasquatch-of-the-Sierra mascot Archie (in honor of the Reno arch) dances with kids in the stands, while families play catch on the grassy berm behind center field using game balls tossed to them by friendly ushers. A block from the stadium the Taste of Chicago serves up great game day food of pizza and gyros, while the National Automobile Museum and Discovery Science Museum provide more family-friendly fun nearby.

spinner image  The Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas - home of the Houston Astros feeder team the Round Rock Express
Peter Tsai Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Round Rock Express, Austin, Texas

Location: Dell Diamond
Ticket prices: $10-$65
AAA affiliate of: Texas Rangers

Owned by the family of baseball great Nolan Ryan (nicknamed “The Express” for his fastballs), Austin's Round Rock Express has “been a model for a successful franchise for a long time,” says MiLB's Lantz. “They treat fans well here. It's like a neighborhood block party.” Drawing more than 12 million fans since the team's inception in 2000, it's been one long family-style party, with a Kids’ Fun Zone and even a rocking chair section for more relaxed fans. The stadium is located in the Austin suburb of Round Rock, about 20 miles from downtown. Dell Diamond is just part of a large outdoor entertainment area that includes the Rock'N River Water Park, the Tom Foolery Adventure Park, and more than a dozen baseball diamonds if you want to get out and hit some balls yourself.


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