Fifth Third Field – Toledo Mud Hens
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Fifth Third Field 406 Washington St Toledo, OH 43604
Year Opened: 2002
Toledo’s All in With the Mud Hens
The Toledo Mud Hens are members of the International League. The Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers began to play in 1965 at Ned Skeldon Stadium before relocating to Fifth Third Field in 2003. The downtown ballpark revamped the neighborhood that is now called HensVille. Just like many ballparks of its kind, it stands out among others in the league.
The MudHens name dates back to 1896 and has been used for a majority of minor league clubs in Toledo until 1953 when new management went with the Glass Sox, later shortened to Sox, the name for three years. When baseball returned in 1965, the Mud Hens name was properly brought back.
In the 1970s, native Jamie Farr commonly wore Mud hens gear on the TV show M*A*S*H that was provided by the team. Having your team showcased on one of the biggest shows of all-time increased awareness among millions of people. Perhaps that is the reason behind The Swamp Shop which offers a cavalcade of team merchandise from old-school t-shirts and caps to current team gear.
FifthThird Field also offers a wraparound concourse, several rooftop suite areas, and various restaurants and bars available before the game to create a minor league baseball experience that few can rival.
Food & Beverage 4
Fifth Third Field offers an array of typical ballpark food, frozen treats, and adult beverages. It may not be as outrageous as other AAA ballparks, but there is more than enough to satisfy the palate during a Mud Hens game.
Gilhooley Sports Bar and Grill is named after former Hens broadcaster Frank Gilhooley who broadcast games from 1953-2010. There are photos of his career plastered on the walls in a spot that resembles a restaurant. Burgers are grilled in front of the customers and have names such as the “BacHen” Burger and the Bloomin’ Onion Burger. You can also order an all-beef hot dog or grilled chicken sandwich.
A few other areas include a few more areas for traditional and non-traditional ballpark cuisine. Suds & Wieners offers beer and hot dogs but is home to the mac and cheese dog, Polish sausages, and the Sudzie Weiner (brat cooked in beer with grilled onions). The Hen & Hound offers chicken tender baskets, grilled chicken sandwiches, and the Muddy Dog
The latter has chicken tender baskets, spicy chicken sandwiches, mac and cheese hot dogs, brats, corn dogs, Polish sausages, and the Muddy Dog with cheese, chili, and onions.
Where the ballpark goes above and beyond is in the dessert category. Far Out Funnels is a psychedelic area that offers funnel cake sundaes, cookie and cream funnel cakes, and the more traditional kind. Frozen usually has long lines serving ice cream in various styles and flavors served in a cone, bowl, or mini-helmet. They also have frozen cocktails mixed with vodka with flavors ranging from blue raspberry, lemon, and margarita.
Budweiser and Pepsi products are the drinks of choice at the ballpark. However, various kiosks service craft beer from regional breweries: Warped Wing, Maumee Bay, Platform, Saugatuck, Columbus Brewing, and a little bit further in Atlanta, SweetWater. The Holy Toledo patio is an ideal spot for having a beer or frozen drink at the game.
The construction of Fifth Third Field looks like a typical Triple-A ballpark with red brick and gray stone. It blends in well with the surrounding buildings, which have been converted into party decks and team store. It might just be the place to have a quintessential minor league experience.
Toledo’s ballpark does not stand out from the unique interior concourse, but it does provide all the essentials fans would want at the ballgame. The concession stands are properly spaced-out, there are various kiosks for quick purchases, and there are plenty of nods for over three centuries of baseball. Mudonna is the club’s official mascot and offers plenty of joy for fans of all ages; she even has a giant bobblehead in the right-field corner of the ballpark.
The Roost is a popular seating area incorporated into a century-old brick building with open floor space for groups. The searing provides fans a corner view of the diamond from a few feet above the concourse, similar to the porch seating at old Tiger Stadium. Another nice angle is down the right field wall where bar stools and stadium seating are available.
The concourse offers patio suite seating with old-school Astroturf seating, a rustic wooden bar sponsored by local breweries, and a children’s play area behind the batter’s eye. Outside the concourse gates are bronze statues entitled “Who’s Up?” which features three kids peering through a knothole, and “I Got It” which features three kids going for a fly ball.
The ballpark and the surrounding HensVille establish it from many others in their league. A destination that begins well before the game and perhaps after that offers a variety of activities for families, late-night revelers, and the random ballpark hunter passing through town.
This includes the small square behind the home plate, Moses Fleetwood Walker Square, which has also been named for Walker was the first African-American Major League player and played for the Toledo Blue Stockings in 1884.
Fifth Third Field is located in what is dubbed HenVille and it’s splattered all over the exterior walls of the ballpark. There are various places within a few steps and blocks to grab dinner or a drink before or after the ball game.
Poco Piatti is a Mediterranean restaurant that offers small and large plates. It includes seafood, vegetarian, and meat dishes, along with pizza and salads. Fleetwood’s Tap Room is a social hall that carries 48 craft beers and smoked items that include chicken, ribs, and brisket. There is a rooftop bar for large groups.
There are more than enough other areas within walking distance of the ballpark including Home Slice Pizza, Fricker’s, The Alleyway, Earnest Brew Work, Ye Olde Durty Bird, and Tony Packo’s at the Ballpark, where one can enjoy a Hungarian-style hot dog and bring home a can of chili at the gift shop.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the neighborhood is Maumee River which offers a riverwalk, sculptures, a kid’s splash zone, and an outdoor amphitheater. HensVille Park, adjacent to Fleetwood’s at times, has children’s inflatable rides and concerts as well before the game.
Mud Hens fans are among the best in the minor leagues. They are focused on the game and cheer when their club scores a run, makes a great play, or gets out of a jam. Yes, there are many there for the social aspect, but crowds are in their seats as well watching the action on the field.
The ballpark is downtown and sandwiched between I-75 and the Maumee River. There is plenty of signage directing visitors to the ballpark and it’s advisable to arrive early to enjoy pre-game activities in HensVille and the surrounding district. Once inside, Fifth Third is easily accessible as it offers a wraparound concourse and easy access to concession stands and exits.
Return of Investment 4
A ticket for most games is between $13 and $15, but the prices go up $3 on Friday and Saturday night games. The downtown stadium is surrounded by individual lots and parking garages that cost $10 per car, but there are meter parking spots available as well for much less. It is the case on Sundays when all meters are free of charge. The merchandise is abundant and offers various designs for all ages. The food is not as varied, but proper for an afternoon or evening at the ballpark.
The Mud Hens earn a point for the downtown setting that has become HensVille. The district offers restaurants, bars, a riverview park for kids, and much more for fans to enjoy before and after the game. The second point is for The Roost, a little nook in the right-field corner that provides upper views of the game behind the foul pole. A third point is awarded to The Swamp Shop, which offers one of the largest selections of team merchandise in baseball.
Fifth Third Field is a wonderful example of a Triple-A ballpark. The history of the club, the HensVille setting, and the atmosphere make it a great visit when in town or while on a ballpark trip. You would be remiss not to walk away with team gear from the store.