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The Corn Crib / Normal Cornbelters

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The Corn Crib / Normal Cornbelters
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It is the corniest ballpark in the independent leagues -- which is saying a whole lot. While the Frontier League's Normal CornBelters made waves in America's Heartland because of the team's unusual marketing strategies and product placement, the real story is how team ownership and ballpark architects managed to create a mid-range ballpark on an extremely limited budget.

The Corn Crib

FAST FACTS

Opened: 2010
Original Cost
: $9 million (excluding land)
Architect
: Pendulum Studios
Capacity
: 8,600 (3,500 armchair seats, 1,000 bleacher seats, 3,000 capacity on berm, 100 on party deck)
Suites
: 10
Dimensions: 328L, 370LC, 400C, 370RC, 328R
Playing Surface: Artificial turf
Owner: Normal Cornbelters
Ticket Prices (2010): Box Seats, $11; Reserved Bleachers, $8; General Admission Lawn, $6.
Box Office: 309/454-2255
Website: normalbaseball.com
League: Frontier League (independent)
Parking: A $2 lot adjoins the ballpark. You can also park on a nearby street or Heartland Community College and walk in.
Address: 1000 Raab Rd., Normal, IL 61761
Directions: The Corn Crib is on the north side of Normal, right off the I-55/I-39 interchange. From I-55 North: Go south on I-55 and take Exit 165 towards Heartland Community College.  Turn left at the first stoplight and go south on Main Street and then take a right at the next light on Raab Road.  The Corn Crib is one half mile down Raab Road on the right-hand side. From I-55 South:  Go north on I-55 and take the Exit 165 towards Heartland Community College.  Merge off to the right and go south on Main St.  Take a right at the intersection of Raab Road and Main Street and the Corn Crib is one half mile down Raab Road on the right. From I-39 North: Go south on I-39 and get merge onto I-55 North towards Chicago then take Exit 165 towards Heartland Community College.  Take the ramp down to Main Street and continue south. At the first stoplight, turn right on Raab Road and the Corn Crib will be a half-mile down on the right-hand side.

From Raab Road, the Corn Crib doesn’t look like much: just a couple of buildings on top of a berm, with some light poles and incomplete landscaping.

Walk up the stairs, enter the ballpark and you’ll see something more impressive: a multiuse facility that works fairly well as a ballpark. Yes, designing a multiuse facility with baseball being the main component is always a challenge, especially when doing it on a budget. But the Corn Crib works, as most of the actual infrastructure in the place is geared toward baseball.

The Corn Crib – so named after a naming-rights deal with the local Illinois Corn Farmers – was built for around $9 million, a fairly low sum for a professional ballpark these days. The corn theme is throughout: there’s corn planted in the berm past right field, corn tassels and silk are present on the signage, and corn on the cob is served at a concession stand. This is perhaps the most integrated deal with a sponsor that we’ve ever seen.