Travel Treasures Close to Home: "Play Ball!" in Columbus
by Tom Reed
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Story filed August 18, 2009
In spite of a dismal season for the Cleveland Indians, and an equally dismal season for their AAA farm team, baseball is alive and well at the Columbus Clippers new ball park. Huntington Park opened this year in the cityís thriving Arena District, and leads the minor leagues in attendance. Huntington Park was named Ballpark of the Year by a national website BaseballParks.com for its combination of superior design, attractive site selection and fan amenities. The Columbus park won out over 11 other facilities, including the new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field in New York City.
The 10,000 seat park is frequently sold out, even though in mid-August the Clippers were in last place in their division. Huntington is fan-friendly, with good sightlines from virtually every seat in the park. Ticket prices are reasonable, ranging from $15 for box seats to $6 for general admission ($3 for seniors and kids under 12). Concession stands are well staffed; some are four-sided, keeping lines to a minimum. The scoreboard is like a junior version of the one at Progressive Field, though I missed having a simultaneous display of the lineups of both teams. Parking is cheap, too. On a recent weekend game, the rate at a nearby lot was $3.
For the past several years, Indians fans have been able to see their Class A team in Lake County and their AA entry in Akron. Now that the AAA team has moved from Buffalo to Columbus, all three are within a couple of hours drive from Cleveland. The AAA is an especially good place to watch future Indians on the way up, and veterans on rehab assignments. On one early August game, at least three of the minor leaguers acquired in recent trades were on the field. One them, pitcher Jess Todd, has already been called up by the parent club. Also seeing action that night was outfielder Matt LaPorta, who rejoined the Tribe in late August. Admittedly, watching minor leaguers on the way up is small consolation for the loss of Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Carl Pavano, Mark DeRosa, and Ben Francisco. But at least it gives fans a look into the future.
For more about the Clippers, go to clippersbaseball.com
One of the great things about Huntington Park is its location in the Arena District, the burgeoning entertainment district near downtown Columbus. The district grew up around the Nationwide Arena, home of the NHL Blue Jackets. It boasts more than a dozen restaurants and bars, and an 11-screen movie theatre.
It is also within easy walking distance of the trendy Short North Arts District, where you can find dozens of other restaurants and shops.
Donít miss the North Market, the cityís historic public market. It has fewer meat and produce vendors than Clevelandís West Side Market, but has more places where you can buy a quick lunch, and more specialty shops.
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Copyright 2009 Tom Reed