It is tempting to write off All Pro Freight Stadium as being a very limited facility, with a small number of box seats and concession spaces. But first impressions can be deceiving. True, All Pro Freight Stadium isn’t the most stellar of ballparks; it’s a little plain, to be sure. But it was designed for much more than baseball in mind, and as a whole the facility works, once one takes the time to examine it closely.
Year Opened: 2009
Capacity: 5,000, including 2,600 box seats
Dimensions: 325L, 400C, 325R
Cost: $13 million
Naming Rights: To Avon-based All Pro Freight Systems, 10 years, amount undisclosed
Architect: RWL Architects /OSports (Osborn Engineering)
Contractor: Infinity Construction
Playing Surface: TigerTurf
League: Frontier League (independent)
Tickets: Field Box, $13; Home Box, $9; General Admission, $6; Terrace Table, $60 (includes 4 tickets).
Parking: Lots of free parking in adjoining parking lots.
Address/Directions: 2009 Baseball Blvd., Avon, OH. The ballpark is billed at being located at the corner of I-90 and Route 611, but that’s not precisely true. Rather, the ballpark is located west of the Route 611 exit on the north side of the freeway. So take the Route 611 exit north and then hang a right a mile or so away to get to the ballpark.
Case in point: the playing surface is TigerTurf, one of the new breed of artificial turfs sporting blades of synthetic grass filled with rubber pellets. We’re not big fans of artificial turf, especially installations covering the whole infield. But a big goal for Avon and Lake Erie officials is the use of the ballpark for more than just the 51 home games for the Crushers. The facility was sold by Avon officials as one part of a larger investment in community resources; a YMCA is under construction next door, with an arena possibly on the agenda. The turf means lots of other events, like car shows, can be held at the ballpark with no fear of wrecking the playing surface. And, turf means the field will be playable after any kind of rain. It’s a pragmatic choice, but the right one given the intentions of city officials.
The ballpark is of a basic design, with the playing field surrounded by a two-story grandstand and a wraparound concourse. All the seating is placed between the foul poles, with tables located on the concourse level and not a bleacher in sight. Groups are served by the large party deck/picnic area down the third-base line. It’s a pretty standard Frontier League layout: no one is ever far away from the field.
Except on the outfield berm, which feels like it’s miles away from the action. During opening night the berm wasn’t quite completed, but we’re hoping it’s now done. It is sponsored — there’s a large chunk of artificial turf located on it advertising Weed Pro — and big. In center field is a kids’ play area, complete with inflatables.
The right-field area has stirred the most chat: the ballpark bumps against I-90, a siting that provides plenty of free exposure for the franchise and ballpark. Originally team officials estimated it would be virtually impossible for anyone to reach the freeway with a long home run — Mickey Mantle or Frank Howard may have had the power to reach the freeway, but a) neither are playing in the Frontier League and b) the Frontier League isn’t really known as a power circuit. Still, given the slight possibility a ball could land on the freeway, officials decided to put up a net.
One interesting thing about All Pro Freight Stadium that most fans won’t notice: it sports an 8,000-square-foot clubhouse space, with room for both teams, umpire room and a home-team lounge, and plans for an indoor batting cage in the future. Players and coaches know that clubhouses in indy ballparks are usually the last thing to be budgeted and built; it’s rare to see clubhouses this large in indy ball, never mind with enough room for an indoor batting cage.
In the end, All Pro Freight Stadium is a comfortable place to watch a game. There’s nothing flashy at this ballpark. But it’s a success, considering it took only 10 months to build (staying within budget) and serves the stated needs of the community.
The food offerings at All Pro Freight Stadium are standard ballpark fare. On a hot day fans will like the Dippin’ Dots or ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery.
The concourse sports two large concession stands, with points of sale along the concourse. If you’re planning on sitting out in the berm, buy your concessions early; for some reason there’s no point of sale serving the fans out there. Those sitting in the hightop tables won’t have that issue: they have waitservice.