We visit Community Field, the longtime home of the Burlington Bees. Page 2: Visiting a classic ballpark, updated for modern times.There’s a long tradition of baseball in this southern Iowa city: Professional baseball was first played there in 1889 with the debut of the Burlington Babies, with the Burlington Bees first hitting the field in 1924 in the Mississippi Valley League.
In 1947 the first version of Community Field opened as the home of the Burlington Indians of the Central Association. It served as home to a series of Three-I League and Midwest League teams, with the likes of Billy Williams, Sal Bando and Vida Blue hitting the field and earning early attention from fans and management alike. But fire leveled the original Community Field grandstand in June 1971; fans sat in temporary bleachers until a new grandstand was unveiled on Opening Day 1973 — which was pretty much state-of-the-art in minor-league baseball when it opened.
That grandstand (shown above) is still the center of the ballpark; the original clubhouses and restrooms are still in use. A 2005 renovation added new office space, new concessions and one of the most distinctive piece of minor-league ballpark architecture: a large canopy covering the grandstand and the concourse. Most photos don’t do it justice in terms of scale: it’s huge without being overpowering, providing essential shelter on those rainy and sunny days alike.
Despite the size, the canopy isn’t too much. In fact, nothing is this ballpark is too much, and the focus is on the game, which can be viewed from multiple vantage points. Four rows of theater-style seats and cupholders for season-ticket holders are in front of the grandstand, while aluminum seating (sans backs) makes up the rest of the grandstand seating.