Bank of the James Stadium
Review by Gary
The first stop of a 24-hour, whirlwind, 5-ballpark tour of Virginia and North Carolina was Bank of the James Stadium, home of the Carolina League Lynchburg Hillcats. With pre-purchased tickets in hand, we found that admission was free. This generosity was due to the fact that the fireworks show after the 4th of July game two days prior was so disappointing that the Hillcats offered this day’s admission free of charge. In search of a refund, the Hillcats offered me tickets to a future game, but since we were not from these parts, they gave us front row seats right by the visiting Myrtle Beach Pelicans dugout. Nice job, Hillcats. Thanks!
City Stadium was originally built in 1940 and has been renovated numerous times with the most recent upgrades done in 2004. Any signs of the 1940’s construction have been lost to the ages and the stadium looked to be in great shape to support the Single-A Cats. It has been the home to the Carolina League’s Hillcats since 1963 and is one of the longest runs of one team with the same stadium in the country.
Our seats at field level seemed nice enough until the game started. That’s when we discovered that our view of the batter’s box would be obscured in the top of each inning by the visitor’s on-deck batter. As the game was about to begin, Delvin Zinn, the Myrtle Beach leadoff man, nicely greeted us and I wished him a good game. By the 3rd inning, we had moved higher up to where there was a nice breeze blowing on this warm summer evening.
The luxury boxes hang over about half of the reserved seats behind home plate, providing a good-sized concourse that was well covered with a large variety of concessions to be had. All fans entering the stadium must climb up about 20 steps to the concourse and then down to their seats, as the ball field is not a dugout bowl as in many ballparks. It was a pretty good crowd for a Saturday, with the regular crowd ambling in.
As it was a Military Appreciation Weekend, veterans were invited to help hold the huge flag during the opening ceremonies. Most of the servicemen looked old enough to be Vietnam War vets, so it was a nicer tribute than just asking them to stand up and be recognized. With great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from almost any seat in the stadium, catching a game here on a cool summer evening seems like the best place to be in Lynchburg.