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Best of the Ballparks 2017, Summer Collegiate: Warner Park

Madison MallardsWith over 32,000 voters weighing in on the top summer-collegiate ballparks, Warner Park (aka “The Duck Pond“), home of the Madison Mallards, was the winner in the third-annual Best of the Ballparks 2017 fan vote from Ballpark Digest.

Fans selected Warner Park over Homer Stryker Field, home of the Kalamazoo Growlers, in the finals of a bracketed online competition. Both teams hail from the Northwoods League. The margin in the final round of voting: 50.2 percent (3,806 votes) for Warner Park and 49.8 percent (3,776 votes) for Homer Stryker Field. Over 335,000 voters participated in this year’s Best of the Ballparks fan competition for spring-training, college, Minor League Baseball, independent and summer-collegiate facilities.

“The Madison Mallards are the biggest draw in summer-collegiate baseball, and a Mallards game is always an event, so it’s no surprise their fans led the way to this victory,” said Ballpark Digest publisher Kevin Reichard. “But I don’t recall another Best of the Ballparks vote that was so close, which is na great tribute to the Growlers and their fans. Summer-collegiate baseball is grass-roots baseball at its finest, and the many close votes in this bracket reflects the passion of the fans.”

“The Duck Pond truly is the best summer collegiate stadium in the country,” said Mallards General Manager Tyler Isham. “We are delighted to receive this award and would like to thank all of our fans who were voting throughout the competition. Our facility provides a one-of-a-kind sports and entertainment experience for all ages.”

Warner Park opened in 1982 as home of the Midwest League’s Madison Muskies and also hosted independent baseball before the Madison Mallards set up shop in 2001. Since then the Mallards, under owner Steve Schmitt and a front office led by Vern Stenman and Conor Caloia, have rebuilt much of the old facility to upgrade the fan experience. Earlier this year, for example, the Mallards completed a large renovation with the new Great Dane Duck Blind. The four-level complex sits down the right field line, holds 12 suites, and seating for up to 1,000 general admission guests. It was constructed using 37 recycled shipping containers. The renovation improved sightlines for fans and added more physical seats to improve the fan experience in the space. We’ll have a story on the addition next week.

Other 2017 Best of the Ballparks winners:

MiLB Triple-A: Huntington Park
MiLB Double-A: Dunkin’ Donuts Park
MiLB High-A: Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium
MiLB, Low-A: Four Winds Field
Independent: The Depot at Cleburne Station

College: McKethan Stadium
Spring Training, Grapefruit League: LECOM Park
Spring Training, Cactus League: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick 

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