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  • Eric Hasman

U.S. Steel Yard - Gary SouthShore Railcats

Photos by Eric Hasman and Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

U.S. Steel Yard One Stadium Plaza Gary, IN 46402

Year Opened: 2002 Capacity: 6,139

Hitting the Right Notes in Gary

The building of U.S. Steel Yard caused quite a bit of stir because of where it was being built (apparently Gary doesn’t have a great reputation) and the high price tag (over $40 million). The baseball park itself is quite nice. The exterior is a red brick facade that extends all the way down both streets it is built on (Stadium Plaza and Route 12). The design of the ballpark has an open concourse overlooking the field with luxury boxes stacked above. Also included is a full 360-degree concourse which allows fans plenty of places to wander.

The ballpark play is big. The dimensions are 320’ to left, 380’ to left center, 400’ to center and 335’ to right and the wall is at least 14’ high. Home runs are hard to come by here.

Food & Beverage 4

The food and beverage have changed a bit over the years, but the variety of options is pretty good and reasonably priced.

The three main concession stands are behind home base (the Region) and the down the left and right field lines. The “Region” stand serves up chicken and waffles ($8), hamburgers ($5), hot dogs ($3), 219 fries (chili cheese fries for $9). And there are the usual beverages (Pepsi products). The “Broadway” stand serves a “Steel City Chicken sandwich (crispy chicken with pickles and mayo for $8), bratwursts ($5) and Beggars pizza for $5. “Herbkoe” Fun Foods, down the right field line is for desserts. Here you can get cotton candy ($5) and snow cones (ranging from $5 to $7). The best item at this stand is the deep fried Oreo cookies for $5. There is also a deep fried baseball which is a oatmeal cream pie or cupcake deep fried and dipped in caramel and topped with cracker jack, powdered sugar and strawberry drizzle. Next to the Herbkoes is Santi’s Tacos which has chicken, Al Pastor or steak tacos ranging from $3 to $5. In addition, they have elote (Mexican corn $5), churros ($4), paletas ($3) and horchata ($5).

The Devil’s Trumpet Brewing Company, a local brewery, has a small stand that offers “My Ghetto IPA” and rotating taps each game. This stand also has some specialty hamburgers like the “Great Bambino (a double cheeseburger), High Cheeseburger (a burger with American cheese, cheddar cheese and mac & cheese), elote burger (a burger with spicy mayo and corn), a pretzel burger (2 slices of cheese, yellow mustard and 2 pretzels) and a black bean burger. All the burgers are $10 and the Devil’s Trumpet beer is $8.

If soft pretzels are your thing this is the place for you. Because the best soft pretzel in any ballpark I have had is here, it is the “Ben’s Pretzel.” The pretzels are made on site and are delicious. They sell for $5 and come as a whole pretzel or pretzel bites.

The right field concourse area is home to the Righteous Ribs that offers patio seating. The bar / restaurant was originally a Bennigan’s and a few other businesses when the stadium opened in 2003. The full-service restaurant features BBQ and the food is tasty and reasonably priced. Of course, they have local craft beer and cocktails.

Domestic drafts are $5 for a 20-ounce and premium drafts are $7 for a 20-ounce. The Leinie Lounge Bar serves Leinenkugel drafts and Barefoot wine and mixed drinks between $6 and $7. Pepsi products and water range from $4-$5.

Atmosphere 3

In 2021, the Railcats completed some updates to the park. The bullpens were moved from the first and third base warning tracks into right field, where new outfield fencing and wall pads were installed. This will make hitting home runs to right field a lot easier. In addition, three seating sections down the right field line were removed to create a family-friendly berm area where visitors can enjoy the games from their blankets. There is also protective netting extending from dugout to dugout.

The team gift shop McShane’s South Shore Depot is huge. There is a great selection of jerseys, caps, and t-shirts and other swag that are available. In addition, the Railcats moved some arcade games from the previous game center into this shop.

Behind the batter’s eye in center field is a small children’s playground area. In addition, there is a small deck with lounge chairs and a water fountain that is shaped like home plate.

Rusty the RailCat, the mascot, dances on the team dugout, posing for pictures, and is available for pictures and hugs by fans of all ages.

The ballpark borders on E. 4th Avenue and I-90 to the point where extensive netting is in place to keep balls from smashing into cars on the adjoining street.

One of the only bad things about this park is the public address announcer is way too loud. The volume needs to be turned down on him. It is almost impossible to hear the person next to you when he is talking.

Neighborhood 1

The ballpark suffers from being in a less than desirable neighborhood and there is not much to do around the park before or after the game. The stadium is near the exit and entrance ramp to I-90 and many will look in neighboring cities for options after the game.

About a 10-minute drive from the park,Michael Jackson’s boyhood home is located on 2300 Jackson Street. Fans of the King of Pop can take photos of the old home and venture to Broadway to the closed Palace Theater that permanently displays the Jackson Five are playing “Tonite.”

Gary is home to the 18th Street Brewery and Taproom that is regarded among the state’s acclaimed craft beers. Enjoy Overlord’s Revenge (Double IPA), Sex and Candy (IPA), or my personal favorite Best Patio Pils (Pilsner-Style Lager) at the taproom. And just a few miles down the road in Munster, Indiana, is the state’s most recognizable craft brewery, Three Floyds Brewpub, which just recently closed their restaurant. But you can still buy their beers such as Alpha King, Yum Yum, Gumballhead, Jinx Proof, and Lazersnake.

Gary is nearby the Indiana Dunes National Park that provides trails for hiking and sandy beaches for cooling off during the summer. Michigan City Outlet Mall offers a few hours to search for deals, and Chicago is less than a half hour away by car.

In addition, the Majestic Star Casino and Hard Rock Casinos are about a 15-minute drive from the ballpark. Both casinos have plenty of restaurants and gambling with sports books (but they don’t take bets on the Railcats) if that is your thing.

Fans 3

The fans are pretty much there for the game. Of course, some are there just to hang out and have a good time. The fans do get involved with the on-field promotions, which is nice. The main on-field guy is Jason who has been there a long time. He has a lot of energy and gets people involved. The fans like their baseball and are used to the winning ways of the team. The Railcats have six appearances in the Championship with three Championships in the league. Though, the past eight years have been rough with only one playoff appearance.

Access 5

Getting to the park is very easy since it is near the highway which provides easy in and out. In addition, free parking can be found in numerous small lots that are a short distance from the park. While the park is located in a rundown area, there is plenty of police presence, so fans should not be concerned for their safety.

The wide-open concourse wraps around the entire field and allows visitors access to bathrooms, concession areas, and exits/entrances.

Return on Investment 4

The ticket pricing options are among the better values in the area and in independent baseball. Terrace seating tickets start at $8 and reserved seating is $12. There is a dollar surcharge when purchased on the day of the game and for “Fireworks Super Show” nights the tickets are a $1 more.

The Railcats have daily deals such as Meaty Monday ($3) hamburgers; Taco Tuesday offer $2 beef tacos and $5 margaritas; Win Big Wednesday (baseball bingo and $2 hot dogs); Thirsty Thursday nights feature $2 Miller Lites and $3 Yuenglings. Fridays are fireworks and Saturdays have $5 cocktails.

Extras 2

The staff is very friendly and personable. They do a great job making you feel valued and at home.

Banners of past RailCat players adorn the concourse. It is always nice to see a team recognize their history. In addition, the Railcats have three retired numbers: #42 for Jackie Robinson, #23 for Wille Glen (RailCats career leader in nearly every measurable pitching category and is an amazing 43-11 with a 3.03 ERA in 88 career RailCats games), and #45 for Joe Gates a former coach of the Railcats.

Final Thoughts

US Steel Yard is a really nice ballpark and one of my favorites because it plays big (lots of triples). Even though it is not located in the best of neighborhoods, it is safe and a place any ballpark enthusiast should see.

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