Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Parkview Field, Tin Caps and History

by Carmen Doyle--History Center front desk personnel and baseball fan

            The number one reason to go to Parkview Field is, of course, to see the TinCaps play. But since the TinCaps can’t play everyday, Parkview Field was designed to be used year round.

The local music video “My City” by the rap group CertiFLYYED showcases well known Fort Wayne landmarks. Among the most recognizable, and one that is featured heavily throughout the video, is Parkview Field, home of the TinCaps. A lyric even talks about getting our “tincaps fitted on.”

Parkview Field, and the TinCaps, have been a great thing for Fort Wayne since they moved downtown in 2009. The field was designed to complement the downtown neighborhood, even basing its architecture on the nearby Firefighters’ Museum. Parkview Health bought the naming rights to the new ballpark and has tried to bring healthy choices to the park while still retaining the unique baseball characteristics.

Parkview Field was designed first to be a baseball stadium. And there are some things about being built for baseball that cannot change. The infield can’t change- there has to be 90 feet between the bases. The outfield allows a little leeway, but the most creative part of a ballpark is the concourse. And it is here that the stadium shines. There is no bad seat in the park. From standing room only and lawn seats (bring your own blanket to sit on) to the group seats in the Treetops Rooftop Party area, every seat offers a great view. Parkview Field was designed with the classic baseball stadiums in mind- the Treetops area was inspired by the rooftop seats at the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field. Unlike Wrigley, however, these seats are controlled in-house. This means that the ballpark can offer not only a great view of the field, but also that anyone seated there still has access to all the park’s facilities. These seats are designed with tables and high top chairs, offering a great view of the field while allowing someplace to set your food down. The Treetops Rooftop Party area is set aside for groups and offers a catering menu of some of the wonderful food options that Parkview Field has to offer.

There are over 20 different food and beverage choices offered. There are the normal ballpark food choices such as hot dogs, peanuts and crackerjacks. However, there are some unusual options available. Among the more atypical alternatives is a gluten free menu. Upon request, two of the food carts can put a hot dog, hamburger or sandwich on a gluten free bun and offer gluten-free chips to go with it. (There is also a gluten free beer available!)  Parkview Field offers other healthy choices as well. Picky kids can get a PB&J with the option of milk or juice. (Or pop, if they’ve had enough health!) Adults can get veggie paninis or burgers. A choice unique to this ballpark is the Apple Cart, which offers a rotating menu featuring Apple Dumplings and Apple WonTons, as well as fresh apples, for those people feeling the need for health. Parkview’s concessions are prepared in-house so everything is fresh.

Another seating choice in Parkview Field inspired by a classic ballpark is the seating atop the left field wall in homage to the Green Monster in Boston’s Fenway Park.  Left field has seating called Home Run Porch, set up for group outings. While the 12” height of the left field wall is somewhat smaller than Fenway (Fenway’s left field is over 37” high) it’s a way in which the TinCaps pay homage to one of the only remaining classic ballparks. (Because Parkview Field isn’t an old ballpark, there aren’t any seats with blocked views.)

The nod to Boston may also be a nod to local baseball history. Chick Stahl was a player from Fort Wayne who was a player/manager for the Red Sox in 1907, although he never played at Fenway.  Stahl committed suicide under mysterious circumstances and is buried in Lindenwood. The History Center has an exhibit with Stahl’s shoes on display. Parkview Field has an interest in local baseball history, decorating the park with banners depicting famous players and teams. There is a banner in the lawn section with a photo of Stahl. The History Center also has another exhibit on local baseball history: a display about Isabel “Lefty” Alvarez and the Fort Wayne Daisies. The Daisies are also pictured at Parkview; there is a banner as well as a plaque that has a brief history of the Daisies. The photo of the Daisies came from the History Center’s collection. 

 The North Gate is directly visible from the Main Library and also has a very small public park just outside the gate. Going through the Main Gate means that the wonderful Fort Wayne skyline is framed by the park. Even when Harrison Square is completed, the skyline view will still be perfectly framed.  (The only thing Harrison Square is supposed to block is the view of nearby fast-food places.)

A feature of Parkview Field that isn’t normally found in ballparks is the kids’ area with a climbing wall and inflatable moonwalk. There is also a splash pad and small amphitheater. The splash pad may not have the best view of the field, but the grassy amphitheater does have a view of the game, if a little far away.  This offers kids areas to move around without blocking someone’s enjoyment of the game.  While the kids play area isn’t open unless there’s a game on the rest of the park is. Parkview Field offers a walking path- the concourse is 1/3 mile, and the park is open for walkers every day unless there is a scheduled event at the field.

Before you go to your next TinCaps game, why not visit the History Center and get a closer look at baseball history? The History Center will also be at the TinCaps game on Thursday, April 26 helping to support the continuing history of baseball and to allow you the opportunity to learn more about our wonderful museum. CertiFLYYEd, the rap group from the popular “My City” video, will be performing as part of the Last Saturday event in April. The last Saturday of every month the History Center offers half-price admission.

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