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  • Steve Ohnsman

Jackson Field – Lansing Lugnuts

Photos by Steve Ohnsman, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Jackson Field 505 E Michigan Ave Lansing, MI 48912

Year Opened: 1996 Capacity: 11,000


Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes Galore

In the last few years, the Lansing Lugnuts have made extensive additions and changes to Jackson Field. A complete renovation of the playing field was unveiled for the 2017 season highlighted by The Outfield apartment complex constructed behind center field, the colorful 84-unit building also includes a full-service bar named Good Hops. The other improvements inside the ballpark included a new 360-degree concourse, The View Banquet Hall and picnic area, metal plaques in center field honoring members of the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame, a new electronic video board, a new kids playground, a new suite area dubbed The Clubhouse, and the replacement of most of the metal bleacher seats with green plastic seats with cup holders.

The improvements cost $22 million, with half coming from additional private investments. The changes have made the fan experience much better at Cooley Law School Stadium and improved seating for 11,000 people when including lawn seating. The ballpark debuted in 1996 as Oldsmobile Park and returned baseball back to town after 55 years. Ironically, the Lugnuts franchise itself dates back to that same year when it began operations as the Lafayette, Indiana, Chiefs. The ball club would play in Waterloo, Iowa; and Springfield, Illinois; before moving to the capital of Michigan.

Food & Beverage 5

The variety of menu options at the ballpark is remarkable. The best bet is to take a walk around the concourse and make note of your options for food and drink. The Lugnuts offer traditional concessions stands as well as individual food and beverage carts. After your jaunt, you will be hungry and ready to order. The featured items include chicken club sandwiches, foot-long corn dogs, sausage sandwiches, cheesesteaks, and barbecue items. The smoked turkey legs and pulled pork parfait with layers of meat and real mashed potatoes and gravy are recommended. Pepsi products are the soft drinks of choice at the ballpark. The Leinenkugel Beer stand is constructed of split logs to give it a feel of being at the lake. The price of most beers cost between $6 to $8; a cocktail stand has specialty drinks for ranging in price from $8 to $12. The $15 Bev Band is a great way to save money on drinks; some of the domestic beers cost only $3.

Atmosphere 4

The field is sunken below ground level; when the fans first enter the park, they go down to all bowl seats. Since the stadium is located within one city block, the “friendly” dimensions of 305′ to the corners include a 23′ wall to add a challenge to the hitters. The new video board appears to be average size and is surrounded by advertising signs. Like many teams, they use it to show fans having fun during the game. The sound system and music work are properly and sound good. During the game, there is a lot of on-field entertainment between each inning of play. There are very few shaded areas for seating; the third-base seats are more desirable, as the sun sets in the eyes of the ticket holders on the first base side of the stadium. Also, the team does not provide programs at the gate–like many others in the league–and have to be purchased inside the gift shop. Big Lug is the team mascot, wearing #96 as the team was founded in 1996.

Neighborhood 4

The stadium is located a few blocks east of the State Capitol Building. There are a number of bars nearby including American Fifth Spirits on the east side of the stadium. If you are in the market for a steak dinner, Bowdie’s Chophouse is very well rated among the locals. La Cocina Cubana features great Cuban fare. Kewpee’s Sandwich Shop is an old-school burger joint featuring Michigan’s famous olive burgers that come in three different sizes. The State Capitol building offers tours of the building, R.E. Olds Transportation Museum provides visitors with information on the history of Oldsmobile company, and the Impression 5 Science Center is great for kids with hands-on exhibits.

Fans 3

The average attendance for 2017 was 4,468. Since there are 11,000 seats available, the level of fan involvement will vary with the crowd size. There is a standard mix of hard-core baseball fans and families/groups attending for the social experience. However, there are a few die-hards at the ballpark, one gentleman sitting at least 100 feet from home plate freely shared his opinion of each pitch with the home plate umpire.

Access 4

The Capital Area Transit Association has three bus stops adjacent to the field on Michigan Ave. The Capital Region Airport is five miles from the stadium. Public and private parking lots/garages are readily available. The gates open one hour before first pitch. Physically challenged fans are well served here with the 360-degree concourse. All fans will enjoy the views from anywhere while walking on the concourse. A distant view of the state capitol building tower can be seen from the first base side.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets purchased the day of the game cost $1 more than in advance. That said, if you order online, the fees will probably negate the $1 extra charge. Walk-up prices offer four choices: Executive Box Seats for $16, Box Seats for $13, Bleacher Seats for $12, and Berm Seats are $8, offering sloped, grassy spaces in left and right field. The Clubhouse suite tickets sell for $26 The quality and variety of both food and drink are fairly priced. The $15 Bev Band is highly recommended. The Lugnuts also offer a $40 Ballpark Pass which includes seats any day in a calendar month. East Lansing is the home of Michigan State University. The Lugnuts offer college students $5 box seats, a great bargain. Two students could buy two box seats and a Bev Band for $25 total and then enjoy five beverages along with the game.

Extras 4

The many improvements made in recent years equate to a 4 extras rating. The Nuts and Bolts team gift shop is open to the public daily and provides excellent team clothing and mementos. The signs honoring members of the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame are a great addition. The Kids Play area in the center field will keep the youngsters busy and it’s free. The MiLB website streams free team radio broadcasts.

Final Thoughts

The major improvements to Jackson Field have improved the 22-year-old ballpark immensely. The facility has more seating angles, a wraparound concourse, improved kids area, and has opened up the ballpark for possible further ideas. The Outfield apartment complex has added color and a focal point to the ballpark and gives the place a bit of a distinction.

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