Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium, home of the Kannapolis Intimidators, has been a bright spot in a community that’s seen more than its share of setbacks in recent years. Now, with the local economy on the verge of a return thanks to biotech firms moving into the area, the Intimidators can potentially reap the profits of their patience; in the meantime, you have a ballpark maintained by local owners with lots of TLC.
Year Opened: 1995
Dimensions: 330L, 410C, 310R
League: South Atlantic League (Low Class A)
Affiliation: Chicago White Sox
Ticket Prices: Reserved Seats, $8 adults, $7 children and seniors; General Admission, $6 adults, $5 children and seniors
Parking: $1 parking in a large adjoining lot.
Address/Directions: 2880 Moose Rd., Kannapolis. The ballpark is located on the eastern edge of Kannapolis. From U.S. Highway 85, take exit 63 and head west on Lane Street. The Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium entrance is 0.4 miles on the right.
Really, there’s nothing wrong with Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium. As far as Class A ballparks go, it’s OK. It’s located outside central Kannapolis, which means easy access for those driving in on the freeway but ensures there’s virtually no foot traffic to the park. It’s an intimate ballpark, as fans are fairly close to the action, but there’s little in the way of amenities (few shaded areas, few concession stands) and little in the way of architectural note past the ballpark’s front facade, designed to be evocative of the textile-mill buildings in downtown Kannapolis.
We’ve revised our thinking about Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium since our initial visit. There are some charming aspects to the ballpark and, more importantly, the ballpark and the team are run by local owners who show a lot of TLC toward both.
Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium is built in a bowl, so you enter on a concourse level through the mill facade and make your way down to your seating. The press box is located behind home plate, and the luxury boxes are located down the first-base line in the building that also contains the main entrance, the administrative offices and the team store. A separate concession facility is located far behind home plate, with the press box blocking a view of the playing field if you happen to be stuck in a long line.
One other thing that was mildly disappointing about the ballpark and the game: there was very little emphasis on the racing tie-in. The team is named for local hero Dale Earnhardt — the Intimidator, who owned a part of the team before he was killed in a car crash and thus never saw his team play — and NASCAR racing is obviously very big in North Carolina. In recent years the team has played up the connection to Earnhardt, to good effect.
The majority of seating is fairly close to the field, with seatback chairs in the sections behind home plate and bleachers down each line. On a sunny day, the metal bleachers can get pretty toasty. In general, there’s little respite from the sun at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium; even a shaded area in the concourse behind home plate would bring some welcome relief on a hot Carolina day. Realistically, the only respite from the sun is the souvenir shop (which carries an extensive collection of Intimidators merchandise; traditionally the team cap has been one of the better sellers in the minors), the small area inside the main gate and a covered picnic area down the left-field line. These are also the only places to seek shelter from a rainstorm as well.
Since opening in 1995, the ballpark has been home to the Piedmont Phillies (1995), Piedmont Boll Weevils (1996-2000) and the Kannapolis Intimidators (2001-present). There are still signs of the Boll Weevils at the ballpark: one of the attractions in the kids’ area bears a Boll Weevils logo. Before the Sally League came to town, Kannapolis and nearby Concord were home to teams in the independent Carolina Baseball League, which ran from 1936 through 1938. The league was unaffiliated with minor-league baseball and supported by local manufacturing firms. The photos below show the Kannapolis Towelers and the Concord Weavers, respectively.
For the Kids
This is a very kid-friendly ballpark. There are activities for kids in the right-field corner (in the form of the Pit Stop Playground) and next to the concession stand. During my visit to a matinee game there were a load of day-care kids visiting the ballpark, and they all seemed pretty happy participating in all the kids’ activities.
There’s a large parking lot adjacent to the ballpark, with parking $1 per car.
Before/After the Game
Things are picking up in Kannapolis these days. The city is working hard to recover from the departure of large textile mills (Cannon, Fieldcrest Cannon, Pillowtex) over the last decade. Kannapolis was a company town, providing employment and housing to hundreds of mill workers. When we first visited the ballpakr, the closing of Pillowtex plants eliminated 4,300 jobs in the general region — a huge blow for the region.