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Midway Stadium / St. Paul Saints

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Midway Stadium / St. Paul Saints
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It is the ballpark that put independent baseball on the map, the place where Mike Veeck and crew honed their skills at turning a minor-league baseball game into a three-ring circus. Oh, and some pretty good baseball has been played here over the years as well. Here's a look at Midway Stadium, the home of the St. Paul Saints.

St. Paul Saints Midway Stadium

FAST FACTS

Year Opened: 1982
Capacity: 6,329
Dimensions: 320L, 400C, 320R
Playing Surface: Grass
Website: saintsbaseball.com
Ticket Prices (2010): Killebrew Box Seats, $20; Lower Infield Reserved, $16; Infield Reserved, $12; Outfield Reserved, $8; General Admission, $5
Phone: 651/644-6659
League: American Association (independent)
Parking: $7 for adjoining parking lot, which fills a half-hour before game time with diehard tailgaters; several $5 lots are close to the park; no-parking areas on Energy Park Drive are strictly enforced by the city.
Address/Directions: 1771 Energy Park Dr., St. Paul. Coming from the east or west on I-94: take Highway 280 north until you reach the Kasota Avenue/Energy Park Drive exit. Take Energy Park Drive east (to the right) for approximately two miles; the ballpark will be on your left.

When the Northern League was resurrected as an indy circuit -- the first in a long, long time -- it was mostly smaller cities in the mix. Organizers assumed that these smaller cities would carry the most popular drsws; they weren't as sure about St. Paul being a good place for a team. And Midway Stadium wasn't necessarily the best of venues.

Since then, of course, multiple independent leagues have popped up across the country. (Of course, multiple leagues have failed.) Several teams from the Northern League split off to form the American Association, and in general most indy teams are in relatively good shape.

One thing that hasn't changed much, however, is Midway Stadium. It's still basically the same place it was when Mile Veeck and Marv Goldklang opened the doors for business. The same between-innings shenanigans ensue, Sister Rosalind Gefre is still a fixture down the third-base line, bless her heart, and a ball-bearing pig still trots out balls to the home-plate umpire between innings. It's a lot of shtick, but it's a good shtick.

That the Saints are a continued success flies in the face of one inconvenient fact: Midway Stadium is one of the worst ballparks in the American Association. There is no theater-style seating in the grandstand (only metal-backed seats), no skyboxes, and the bleachers are awkwardly configured for baseball. (Midway Stadium was built by the city of St. Paul as a replacement for the charming original Midway Stadium, which housed the original Saint Paul Saints in the 1950s. The new Midway has a weird configuration because it was designed to host high-school football games as well.) The right-field bleachers are particularly brutal on a sunny evening. If you can score some grandstand seats, by all means do so; if not, head for the left-field bleachers.