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Wednesday, Jul 23rd

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C.O. Brown Stadium / Battle Creek Bombers

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There is a lot to be said about C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek, Mich., that can be both good and bad. Then again, after a visit to the ballpark, you may leave with a sense of romance or appreciation of a night with friends and family at the ballpark.

FAST FACTS

Year Opened: Originally built for amateur baseball in 1990; upgraded for minor-league baseball in 1995
Capacity: 4,500
Dimensions: 322L, 402C, 333R
Website: battlecreekbombers.com
Phone: 269/962-0735
League: Northwoods League
Parking: Parking is free and ample in the area surrounding the ballpark, located inside a park with other ballfields in the area.
Directions: 1392 Capital Av. NE., Battle Creek. From I-94, take Exit 98B to downtown Battle Creek. This road will be Capital Road. Stay on Capital Road as it winds through town. The stadium is located on Capital Road NE, also know as M66.
Written by: Marc Viquez

There is a lot to be said about C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek, Mich., that can be both good and bad. Then again, after a visit to the ballpark, you may leave with a sense of romance or appreciation of a night with friends and family at the ballpark.

C.O. Brown Stadium wasn't built for minor-league baseball; it opened in 1990 for amateur baseball, which has been popular in the area for quite some time. (C.O. Brown himself served as president of the American Amateur Baseball Congress until his death in 1966.) It was not until 1995 that minor-league baseball arrived in Battle Creek with the formation of the Michigan Battle Cats.

The ballpark now houses the Battle Creek Bombers of the summer-collegiate Northwoods League, and new management has added a few quirks to the facility in order to improve the ballpark experience.

The needs of a Northwoods League team isn't the same as a professional team, and the ballpark reflects the greater need for intimacy. Much of the area down the left0field line has been replaced with a deck area, while the corner deck attracts groups and fans looking for a party atmosphere.

The grandstand seats are all covered and feature long blue steel beams that can obstruct views. There are two ways to go with this: the ballpark feels more ancient than dating back only to 1990, or it can be annoying to fans that are now getting used to nonobstructed views from newer facilities in the country. I believe it adds a little character to the place that you cannot find anywhere else.

Think about it: how many new ballparks feature covered seating behind the home-plate area all the way down both the third- and first-base lines? I like to think of the pillars as a nod to past ballparks that no longer exist. However, I do understand that a park like C.O. Brown is a distinct animal that may get pushed back one day in favor of a more modern facility.

C.O. Brown sits a few miles outside of downtown Battle Creek and signage towards the facility are few. The ballpark itself sits inside a city park, where you will be surprised by the ample free parking. The location from the highway is not as bad as it seems, and you do get to pass through downtown Battle Creek, where one could enjoy a beer at the Arcadia Brewing Company brewpub.

The stadium does have one area that makes a trip to a game well worth the trek: an outdoor bar stretching around the left-field wall. The two-story wooden structure is regarded as the largest outdoor bar in the state, and when you spend a night in 38 degrees weather in May you know why they are not too many more in Michigan. This area provided a unique feel among the patrons gallivanting around.

When you leave C.O. Brown Stadium you are left with an experience that you may not get at new ballparks across the country. The sense of watching a game in a facility that offers covered seating and an open-air bar is almost unmatched at any other facility in the minors. The blue pillars that hold up the roof of the grandstand should be appreciated rather than scorned.

Every so often it's not that bad to attend a game at a place such as C.O. Brown Stadium. It can be a simple pleasure to enjoy a baseball game in an older ballpark that is kept up well and still offers great amenities. If you are there with to meet up with friends, enjoy a promotion or watch a game with family, maybe that's all you need.