Pearl, Mississippi, is a small, sleepy town just outside of Jackson, and is where you’ll find Trustmark Park, the home of the Mississippi Braves (Class AA; Southern League). Jackson is definitely the target market here, as Pearl’s population (22,000) isn’t enough to support a Double A franchise. Jackson had been the home of a Texas League team up until the late 90s, but by then Smith-Willis Stadium was deemed unsuitable and the team moved to Round Rock.
Year Opened: 2005
Architects: Dale and Associates Architects, HOK Sport
Dimensions: 330L, 402C, 332R
Cost: $28 million
Playing Surface: Grass
Ticket Prices (2007): $12 dugout level, $8 field level, $5 berm
League: Southern League (Class AA)
Parking: Free and plentiful.
Address/Directions: One Braves Way, Pearl, MS. Take I-55 S toward McComb. Merge onto I-20 E via Exit 94 toward Meridian/Hattiesburg. Take the MS-49 exit (Exit 47b) toward Flowood and merge onto MS-49. Turn right onto Highway 80 at the stoplight. Turn right on Bass Pro Drive and follow Bass Pro Drive and turn left into the north or south parking lots of the ballpark.
Text and Photos By: Dustin Mattison
The park itself sits along I-20, nestled between a residential area on one side and a large Bass Pro Shop on the other. Besides the Bass Pro Shop, the area offers little but there seems to be some commercial development in the works. Due to its limited surroundings, when sitting in Trustmark Park you be could be watching a game anywhere in the country.
The park opened with the Braves’ inaugural season in Mississippi, ending the team’s over-20-year partnership with the city of Greenville, S.C. The park itself is of the popular design found throughout the minor-league parks built in the last decade. The lower level offers bowl-style seating with an extra wide concourse surrounding the field. The rows only go about 20 deep, so no seat is too far from the action. Also, there seemed to be no seats that had viewpoints hidden from any of the action.
There are 22 luxury boxes located overhead, offering both indoor and outdoor seating. The boxes offer the standard fare of catered food, a video monitor, and air conditioning that is quite welcomed on those steamy Mississippi nights. The berm seating is located beyond the left-field wall.
There is a multi-tiered picnic area along the left-field foul line. On this night the area was rented out and catered for a local company.
Concessions are quite standard, but the team does offer a few Southern delicacies. Catfish can be found in one of many concession stands and funnel cake in another. One of the nicest amenities: video monitors of the action taking place on the field one can watch when in line for concessions. The Crystal Springs Café, located beyond the right-field wall, is an outdoor restaurant offering typical bar and grill selections at very reasonable prices. The restaurant is open for lunch 11-2 all year round.
The large scoreboard located beyond the left-center field wall is easily visible from all the reserved seating. It offers video of the contests between innings and lots of commercials. It does offer a radar gun, something that is a big perk in a minor-league setting.
There are two large play areas located in foul territory behind the left and right field walls. The price is $1 a turn or for $10 the kids can play all night with unlimited turns. Another nice touch is an open area beyond center field, where kids can play catch and it was being utilized quite enthusiastically on the night of our visit.
Between innings there was the typical dizzy bat race and the ever-popular human hamster races. The Braves also seemed to give away quite a bit of merchandise. Who knew Southerners get so excited about free T-shirts?
Overall, a very enjoyable ballpark visit. The ballpark itself, even though not unique, does already have a very good atmosphere in to watch a game. The crowd was very spirited and cheered loudly when there team made a good play. It was quite obvious that the people of the Jackson area are really behind their team, as witnessed by all the T-shirts and hats worn by those in attendance. Even though there is nothing groundbreaking at Trustmark Park, it is still a nice place to watch a game.