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A Night at Principal Park

July 6, 2011 - Mike Donahey
It was a night at the “old ballpark” recently for our family. The setting — Des Moines’ Principal Park, home of the Iowa Cubs. Over the years, our family has attended many a game there. We enjoy baseball, be it at Wrigley Field, Principal, or elsewhere. More than 12,000 other fans joined us. There were fireworks scheduled after the game too, which no doubt made for a bigger crowd.

For the uninitiated, the I-Cubs are the Triple-A farm team of the major league Chicago Cubs. Which means players one sees in Des Moines are possibly on the way up to the big Cubs, or conversely, down. For others, Des Moines will be as high as they advance.

That night the Cubs’ opponent was the New Orleans Zephyrs — farm team of the Florida Marlins.

The temperatures were warm, but a steady breeze made it a pleasant, almost ideal summer night. The game: Cubs won 8-1, with plenty of hitting by them and good fielding as well.

Cubs’ pitcher Jay Jackson came within two outs of pitching a complete game shut-out. Had he been successful, it would have been the first time for an I-Cub to do so in approximately five years. But it wasn’t meant to be for Jackson, as another pitcher was brought in to close out. Jackson earned the win and perhaps notice by the big club. Considering the big Cubs’ starting pitching is weak, look for them to call Jackson up sooner than later, assuming he continues to pitch well.

If there is a better place to SEE Triple-A baseball, I’d like to know. Principal Park offers excellent sight lines, which is a fancy way of writing there are no bad seats , compared to Wrigley Field, which has some obstructed views.

We can make both claims with authority. We were at Wrigley nearly two weeks ago and have sat in many different locations at Principal. Fans: The fans are, overall, well behaved. I don’t think rowdy fans would be tolerated.

Expense-wise bring your wallet and be prepared to spend a fair amount. Tickets: We bought four $10 advance seats online for Upper Grandstand seats. With handling charges of $2 each, it made the total $48. The Cubs’ ticket prices are reasonable and always have been.

But other expenses can add up — big time. Parking is $7 in the Cubs’ lots. An option — metered parking can be found on nearby streets. Several businesses and homes allow on-site parking. Rates vary. We usually park in the ramp adjoining the Science Center of Iowa. It is about a 10-minute walk to Principal. Food and beverages expense will definitely put a dent in your wallet. Personally, I had two 12-oz. bottled water at $3.75 each. Pretzels were $4 each and were heavily salted. So, ask the cashier to hold half the salt.

A daughter gave a positive review on a cheese pizza and my wife and other daughter each had beverages. Our total costs, including tickets, but excluding gasoline expense, was about $90.

If you are a baseball purist and just want to hear the sound of the ball hitting the bat, a ball smacking into a mitt and roar of the crowd, you will be disappointed. I refer to frequent announcements, commercials and music played between batters and so on. Last year they ran loud Netflix ads between innings which were annoying. However, I’m not paying the bills.

If one can put those distractions and expenses aside and focus on family time while seeing professional baseball, Principal is the place to be.

 
 

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