- Steven Burke
Rocky and Berenice Miller Park – Northwestern Wildcats
Photos by Steven Burke, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
Rocky and Berenice Miller Park 2750 Ashland Ave Evanston, IL 60208
Rocky and Berenice Miller Park website
Year Opened: 1943
Renovated Rocky and Berenice Miller Park
Northwestern University unveiled a renovated Rocky Miller Park for the 2016 season and the newly renovated and newly rechristened Rocky and Berenice Miller Park in surely one of the top ballparks in the Big Ten.
Rocky Miller Park has been the baseball home of Northwestern University since 1943 and the newest renovations will ensure it remains the home of Wildcats baseball for years to come. The renovations began in 2015 with new field turf, a new backstop, and new dugouts. Renovations unveiled in 2016 include team clubhouses at the ballpark (instead of in a nearby athletic building), with the addition of Hayden Clubhouse which also features a player's lounge. Perhaps the most visible addition is the brand new press box which features designated space for different forms of media replacing the former wooden folding tables located out in the open on the concourse where home and away radio was forced to broadcast from.
The ballpark also features all new folding seat back chairs, new concession stands, and a new scoreboard.
Food & Beverage 3
The brand new concession stand at Rocky Miller Park shows a dedicated building for concessions and restroom facilities. The concession selections are average and the usual suspects of options are present. Prices are reasonable with Polish sausage ($4.50), hot dogs ($3.50), brats ($5), hamburgers or cheeseburgers ($5.50), popcorn, pretzel, or nachos ($4.50) all available. Additional snacks like Cracker Jack or peanuts ($4), assorted candy ($3.50), and chips ($2) round out the menu. Coca-Cola soft drinks and Dasani water are available for $4, and hot chocolate is $3.
The renovated ballpark still has a small capacity but it finally looks like a big conference facility. The seats are large and comfortable and the crowds are full and into the game. A large group of fans for the visiting team seems to be par for the course at Northwestern athletic events. This is a result of favorable ticket prices and the fact that Chicago is a desirable destination with plenty of alumni from around the Big Ten living in or near the Windy City.
A few between innings promotions are done to keep the crowd excited and involved, but they do not go overboard. An additional positive attribute to the atmosphere is the fact that the majority of the Northwestern athletic facilities are in the same location. From the seats at Rocky Miller Park you can see the softball field beyond the outfield wall in center field, and Welsh-Ryan Arena beyond the right field fence. This really reiterates the fact that you are at a college game on a college campus.
Within walking distance of Rocky Miller Park is Mustard's Last Stand, a typical Chicago Vienna Beef stand serving up hot dogs and hamburgers, and is a favorite of many fans. There isn't much else in the immediate vicinity of the ballpark.
In downtown Evanston there are plenty of places to park and enjoy an ever-changing array of restaurants. Smylie Brothers Brewing Company offers a great BBQ-inspired menu to go with their in-house brews.
Temperance Beer Company is another local brewery with a taproom to try all of their unique brews.
Downtown Evanston is most easily accessible by the CTA Purple Line via the Davis stop while Rocky Miller Park is a quick walk from the Central Purple Line stop.
If you are staying in Evanston you have several choices including the Hilton Garden Inn, which is just across from the large movie theatre on Maple Avenue. Hilton Orrington, which is close to a majority of the restaurants and campus, and the Best Western University Plaza which is located on Sherman Avenue a few blocks from the middle of downtown Evanston are other options.
There is a good mix of fans in attendance at Rocky Miller Park with students, parents, community residents, high school baseball teams, and as usual with Northwestern athletics, a large group of visiting fans. All fans are very interested in the game on the field. Most conversations in the stands occurring during play are regarding what is happening on the field.
Public transportation provides easy access to Rocky Miller Park via the Purple Line Central stop. Exiting the L stop, walk west and you will soon reach the Northwestern athletics facilities. Once you see Ryan Field you have arrived in the correct area. Walk past Ryan Field and Welsh-Ryan Arena and you will find Rocky Miller Park.
Free parking is also available in the lot across the street. There are ample spaces in this lot even if large crowds are on hand for a baseball game.
Return on Investment 3
All tickets are general admission and are $7 for adults and $4 for senior 65 & older, faculty/staff, children 17 and under, or students from other universities with a valid student ID. Students of Northwestern are admitted free with a valid WILDCARD ID.
One extra point for the feel of campus ballpark. Seeing aspects of campus adds to the environment of the college game. Seeing other athletic facilities beyond the outfield wall gives a good campus setting to a game.
One extra point for the investment made by Northwestern in maintaining this Big Ten facility.