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Where retro began: 25 years of Coca-Cola Field

Buffalo BisonsIt’s a great story: the ballpark that began the retro era — Coca-Cola Field, home of the Buffalo Bisons (Class AAA; International League) is hosting the Triple-A All-Star Game in its 25th year.

The game should be close to a sellout and can be seen nationally on the website, but the big story here is how the ballpark has thrived over the years despite many changes in Buffalo’s fortunes. When Populous and the city went ahead with a retro design — lots of brick and exposed steel — it wasn’t a sure bet: everyone took a chance on an unproven look.

Of course, since then the retro look has been the dominant motif in both Minor League and Major League ballparks, replicated in many other markets (Baltimore, Cleveland, etc.) to good effect. Fans love it, and after 25 years we don’t see an end to the retro look.

Since the then-Pilot Field hosted an All-Star Game in 1988, downtown Buffalo has changed, as has the ballpark. Built to potentially host MLB in the future, the Bisons have shrunk capacity and added more group and party areas. Fewer people work in downtown Buffalo, but more live downtown, and the team experiences some true walk-up traffic while operating in a safer environment.

So tonight’s Triple-A All-Star Game — pitting the Pacific Coast League against the International League — will have lots of meaning on several levels.

RELATED STORIES: Coca-Cola Field turns 25 this season


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