Robin Roberts Stadium – Springfield Lucky Horseshoes
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Robin Roberts Stadium 1415 North Grand Avenue E Springfield, IL 62702
Year Opened: 1926 Capacity: 5,200
Feeling Lucky in Springfield
A new era of baseball began in 2022 with the rebranding of the Springfield Sliders to the Springfield Lucky Horseshoes. The name was picked to honor the local delicacy horseshoe sandwich and lucky was added to play along with the name horseshoe along with US President Abraham Lincoln whose home, along with his library, is a tourist destination in town. However, Stadium Journey’s review is from the 2021 season when the team was still called the Sliders.
The Shoes of the Prospect League have called Robin Roberts Stadium home since 2008 and are the longest-tenured ball club at the venue. The stadium has hosted professional, summer collegiate, and high school baseball for nearly a century of operation.
The first game played at Robin Roberts Stadium, then known as Reservoir Park, was on May 12, 1925. That day the Springfield Senators dropped a 6-4 decision to the Terre Haute Hottentots in the Three-Eye League. A massive crowd of 12,000 people showed up for opening commencements on the next day and was witness to a triple play and a grand slam, sadly, the Senators lost 7-6.
Minor league baseball would continue at the ballpark from 1925-1932, 1935, 1938-1942, and 1946-50. Ironically, the Central Illinois Colleague League, the predecessor to the Prospect League, would place a franchise at the newly renovated stadium, now known as Lanphier Park, in 1963 that would operate until 1977. The very next season minor league baseball returned to the city for the first time in 28 years.
The New Orleans Pelicans of the American Association relocated to the newly renamed Robin Roberts Stadium. An amount of $280,000 worth of renovations was completed on the stadium, including improved lighting, new locker rooms, increased seating capacity, and a new scoreboard with a small message board. The team would be known as the Springfield Redbirds, a Triple-A affiliation, of St. Louis.
The Redbirds would leave town after the 1981 season, but just weeks later, the city received a Midwest League team named the Redbirds that would last until 1993. In 1994 the Sultans of Springfield would call the ballpark home before moving to Lansing, Michigan, after the 1995 season. The following season, the Springfield Capitals of the Frontier League opened up shop and would provide professional baseball in town for the next 5-years.
Today, the ball club is content to be the stadium’s tenant for the foreseeable future. The ballpark has had a share of renovations that have included a new scoreboard, leveling of the playing field, two picnic areas down each foul line, and adding the team colors of Kelly green and neon green throughout the concourse. It is not the most modern of ballparks, but it is a very comfortable spot for a game during the summer months.
Food & Beverage 4
The main concession stands are underneath the grandstand and have almost anything you would need at a ball game. The prices range from $2 to $5 per item; the ribeye steak sandwich is the highest-priced menu item. There are also pork tenderloin sandwiches, pizza slices, Polish sausages, pork chop sandwiches, hot dogs, nachos, burgers, chicken strip baskets, and a foot-long churro on a stick. The food is hot, most of it locally produced, and quite tasty.
Six taps of beer are only $3 a glass. If you want a tall boy, it will cost you $5. The selections include the national brands plus Boulevard Pale Ale and Shiner Bock. There are also mixed drink varieties for purchase if you are not a beer aficionado.
The atmosphere was a little laid back on the night of our visit, perhaps fans were busy at commencement ceremonies at local high schools or waiting to come out the next day for firework night. It is a very comfortable and relaxing place to watch a game. The focus is on the field instead of the in-between promotions, which were absent during the night.
The ballpark is wide open and consists mainly of aluminum bleacher seating down the foul lines and theater-style seating behind home plate. There is the main concourse between the reserved and general admission seating. A picnic area for groups is located down the first baseline of the facility.
Speedy, the club’s official mascot, makes his way around the concourse signing autographs and giving hugs and high-fives to fans of all ages. You will also see fans moving their arms up and down after every run pushed across home plate during the night. A tradition that was started during its first season still resonates with many in the building.
The souvenir shop is a throwback to the old booths that used to exist in similarly constructed buildings. Fans can select from t-shirts, caps, jerseys, foam fingers, and other paraphernalia. A shirt starts at $15, a cap is $20, and an official jersey is $40. A Wall of Fame of former players lines up the upper level of the stadium’s grandstand, featuring former high school standout and Hall of Famer Robin Roberts.
The stadium also features a turtle back in the field that is a pronounced slope behind the infield dirt that slopes down towards the outfield. This was common for many ballparks of the 1920s and was created mostly for drainage purposes as they allow rainwater to quickly drain off the infield. It is one of a handful of ballparks that features the quirk, but it is still effective
The ballpark is not too far away from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library which features wonderful exhibits from the 16th president of the United States along with his presidential home and monument. A must-see if you are a history buff or just a fan of Honest Abe himself.
Across the street from the library is the Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery. The popular spot offers craft beer, food, and outdoor seating with a bocce ball court. A few more spots include D’Arcy’s Pint, Norb Andy’s Tabarin, and Julia’s Kitchen and Lounge.
A few more places are the Illinois State Museum, the Dana Thomas House, and the old State Capitol. A farmer’s market is held downtown every Saturday during the summer months and one should enjoy a pint from Buzz Bomb Brewing Company or Anvil & Forge.
The city is on Route 66, and worthy of a visit to the Cozy Dog Drive-In which has a collection of memorabilia of the famous highway along with smash burgers, hand-cut fries, homemade chili dogs, and cozy dogs (better than a corn dog). A regional dish called the horseshoe is available at many eateries and consists of bread, hamburger, fries, and cheese sauce (although one can also get a breakfast horseshoe with sausage gravy).
The Slider fan appears to be occupied with the game taking place on the field and does their best to cheer on the hometown nine to victory. They enjoy a winner just like any other baseball city in the nation, but many are decked out in caps, jerseys, and shirts that make them stand out as legit fans. They are still looking for the second league championship that has been evading them since 2008.
The ballpark is located on the north side of town, not that far from downtown attractions. Once inside, it can get a little crowded near the concession and entrance of the stadium. However, one can make their way around quite efficiently once inside the grandstand. There was a lot of room at this ballpark and enough to stretch your legs out when applicable.
Return on Investment 4
An adult general admission ticket is $8, children (4-12) and military are $5, and children under 3 are free. The parking is free, concessions are reasonably priced and beer is $3, and mixed drinks and wine are $5. A few things to keep in mind: all draft beer is $1 before the first pitch, and hot food is discounted to $2 during the 8th and 9th inning for many games.
The ballpark earns a point for having $1 happy hour prices before the first pitch. I was unaware of this deal, and since I like to save a dollar or two, kicked myself for not taking advantage of this incredible deal.
I also enjoyed how many of the fans moved their arms up and down whenever the Sliders scored a run during the game. It is a type of tradition that you do not see at many other stadiums across the country during the summer months.
The ribeye steak sandwich was quite delicious and worth getting for just five bucks during the game. I would suggest adding a few onions to make it almost perfect. It’s not quite a hot dog, but sometimes it’s okay to be a little different at the ballpark.
A fourth point for the sale of an actual gameday program that does cost $2, but has some great information and detail about the stadium inside its pages. Many teams offer them for free, but we know they are nowhere what they used to be a few years ago.
Attending a Springfield Sliders game at Robin Roberts Stadium is both an economical and relaxing way to enjoy baseball in the Prospect League. It is a good old-fashioned throwback of a ballpark that many will enjoy for the pure aspect of watching the game. Who can argue with that?