Brian’s At the Ballpark Archives

At the Ballpark – Fieldcrest-Cannon Stadium, Kannapolis, NC
April 21, 2008, 1:14 am
Filed under: 2008, Reviews

 Fieldcrest-Cannon Stadium

Fieldcrest-Cannon Stadium, Kannapolis, NC

Kannapolis, North Carolina is a typical small industry town. Cannon Mills first appeared in Kannapolis in the late 19th century, and they continued to produce textiles from this north Charlotte burb for the next century and a quarter. The company, later known as Fieldcrest-Cannon, provided the name for the baseball facility in Kannapolis.

There are more things for which Kannapolis is famous – including its citizens. Kannapolis was the home base of NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt (in fact, the major thoroughfare one exit south on the interstate is Dale Earnhardt Boulevard), and the local team, the Kannapolis Intimidators, gets its nickname directly from his on-track moniker. Does this stadium live up to Earnhardt’s standards? Let’s find out.

Concessions: B

The food at “The Cannon” is not tremendously imaginative in terms of offerings – think mostly ballpark food. There were a few somewhat unusual offerings (a funnel cake with chocolate, which I wasn’t brave enough to try), but things tend to stick more toward the norm here. The cheeseburgers are pretty decent, but the fries could use a little work. If you get them, hang out near the ketchup dispenser, as it will become your best friend.

One true bonus in terms of concessions is the availability of Cheerwine and Diet Cheerwine. For those of you who have never sampled this Southern “delicacy”, it is a true must upon any visit to this fair part of the country. Cheerwine is a cherry soda with a bit of cola taste, and is a good companion to the other offerings of Pepsi products in this park.

A cafe (Double Play Cafe) helps round out the concession offerings, along with a few other stands around the park. Prices are decent, as is the quality of the food.

Atmosphere: A

There is a really cool, yet tough to describe, feeling in the park. The musical soundtrack is outstanding, and I unfortunately had an hour and change to sample the music selections during a pre-game rain delay. The one low point of the musical selection was the seemingly requisite playing of “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” during one of the inning breaks. The person who got that craze started needs to take a fiddle to the head several times.

Most of the between-innings activity was understated (this is not a bad thing, trust me), and I am unsure as to whether this is a common thing for this market, or the rain held off some of the activities. There was the usual mascot race (we get it, the kid always wins, but I’ll give them a break), a contest where two kids had to put together a North Carolina Department of Agriculture jigsaw puzzle and a few other giveaways. A couple of comments on the giveaways: 1) having everyone scream for an ice cream bar may seem like a great idea, but not on a 57-degree night with swirling winds and 2) the t-shirt launcher thing did well at rewarding fans near the concession stands and the concourse area, but if your seats are near the field, forget it. I am still deaf as I write this from the kids screaming trying to get a $2 ice cream.

Kannapolis’ mascot Dub is a big bluish creature that wanders the stands and is tremendously popular with the kids. I must admit laughing at him too, as he stood in front of me while I was watching the pitcher warm up between innings, and he moved as I moved. He shook my hand twice and gave me a high-five. I seem to be attracting mascots in North Carolina parks this year.

Sight lines: A

This stadium is, for the most part, a spectator’s dream. The sight lines are beautiful, and everything that is not directly behind the press box has a clear view of the field. The seating bowl is not too tall, so even the top rows of seats have a short distance to the action on the field. The bullpens are virtually impossible to see, as the home bullpen is behind a wall and some other equipment down the left field line, and the visitors’ bullpen is behind the right field wall, with only a small cutout to show what is going on. This is about all that keeps things from being perfect in terms of seeing game action.

The view beyond the outfield wall is not overly enticing, as a number of trees and a winding road traverse the area. The stadium itself is inside a city park-type area, and this limits the scenery a bit.

Parking: C

There are tons of parking spaces, which is good, even for a park which only seats around 4700, as this one does. However, there is a $2 charge to park here, which, as I have said before, is dumb. The first park I find in the Carolinas that does not charge for parking gets an A, even if there are only five dirt-lined parking spaces behind the outfield fence. The drive into the park is nice, as there is a drive through a winding tree-lined road. Leaving the park, however, is a completely different story. The same tree-lined road backs up for quite a way as traffic tries to turn left onto the “main drag” to get back to the interstate.

Quality of baseball: C

I have seen four games this season as I write this, and three of them have ended in a 1-0 score. The Greensboro Grasshoppers (the Marlins’ low-A affiliate) defeated the homestanding Intimidators (White Sox low-A) by that score on this evening. The pitching and defense was fantastic, but the offense left a ton to be desired. The two teams combined to strike out 25 times over the course of the game, and the only run that was scored came in the top of the first inning. There was not even a ball hit to the warning track in the game. One somewhat unrelated item that I noticed was the performance of home plate umpire Mario Seneca. He was very convincing in his calls, hustled to constantly get in position, and kept control of the game.

Overall grade: B

This park has a really good vibe to it, as the people are nice, there is plenty of room to move and all of the seats are close to everything. The lack of a covered area near the seating bowl is a problem, particularly when it rains, as it did on this night. Also, if this is something to which you are sensitive, take note: there are a LOT of smokers at this park. Smoking is allowed on the concourse, and patrons really do take advantage of this. I scrambled for cover from the rain under the concession and picnic areas, and was greeted both times by smokers. I would definitely come back, however, and will likely make the effort to do so considering the proximity.

How to get there:

Fieldcrest-Cannon Stadium is easily accessible by taking exit 63 off Interstate 85 in Kannapolis. If traveling north, turn left at the top of the ramp; if traveling south, turn right. The stadium is just ahead on the right, and you will be greeted with a sign at the top of Stadium Drive.

How I got there:

Kannapolis trip

Total trip time (one-way):  45 minutes (43 miles).

You may also want to see:

See the reviews for Knights Stadium in Fort Mill, SC. Just as that park is located just south of the city center, Kannapolis is 20 miles (or so) north of the city center, and features many of the same attractions. Charlotte’s center city is easily-reached by a short drive or bus ride.

For pictures of this and other ballparks from this feature, visit the photo archives.

To email the author with comments or questions, please send correspondence to footballjones AT gmail DOT com.


Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: