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Community Field / Burlington Bees

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There is nothing ostentatious about Community Field, the home of the Burlington Bees. Yes, there are some theater-style seats behind home plate -- but not too many. There’s a single suite on the second level of the grandstand, but there’s no private entrance or even an elevator leading up there -- you need to walk through the stands to reach it. There’s no wraparound concourse, no huge videoboard blasting commercials between innings. And regulars have laid claim to some of the better spots in the ballpark without management charging extra for the privilege. All of this makes Community Field one of the most charming ballparks in all of baseball, and certainly one of the best.

FAST FACTS

Opened: 1947. Fire destroyed ballpark on June 9, 1971, with rebuilding completed on Opening Day, 1973. Renovated: 2005
Architect: Metzger Johnson Architects (renovations)
Capacity: 3,200
Suites: 1
Dimensions: 338-375-403-365-318
League: Midwest League (Low Class A)
Parent: Kansas City Royals
Ticket Prices (2010): Box Seats, $7; General Admission, $5.50; Senior/Student/Military, $4.
Address: 2712 Mt. Pleasant Av., Burlington.
Parking: Plenty in paid lot next to ballpark.
Directions: From U.S. Hwy. 34 (which runs east-west through Burlington), take Hwy. 61 North. Hang a right on Mt. Pleasant Avenue. The ballpark will be on your left.

There’s a long tradition of baseball in this southern Iowa city: Professional baseball was first played there in 1889 with the debut of the Burlington Babies, with the Burlington Bees first hitting the field in 1924 in the Mississippi Valley League.

In 1947 the first version of Community Field opened as the home of the Burlington Indians of the Central Association. It served as home to a series of Three-I League and Midwest League teams, with the likes of Billy Williams, Sal Bando and Vida Blue hitting the field and earning early attention from fans and management alike. But fire leveled the original Community Field grandstand in June 1971; fans sat in temporary bleachers until a new grandstand was unveiled on Opening Day 1973 -- which was pretty much state-of-the-art in minor-league baseball when it opened.

That grandstand (shown above) is still the center of the ballpark; the original clubhouses and restrooms are still in use. A 2005 renovation added new office space, new concessions and one of the most distinctive piece of minor-league ballpark architecture: a large canopy covering the grandstand and the concourse. Most photos don’t do it justice in terms of scale: it’s huge without being overpowering, providing essential shelter on those rainy and sunny days alike.