Huntington Park is the home of the Columbus Clippers of the International League. Our visit to this lovely park was a rather special one thanks to the kindness and hospitality of the Clippers, who went beyond my request for special photo access by providing us with a 2-hour tour of the facility, hours before their home opener. Joe Santry, team historian and our guide, took us everywhere and regaled us with wonderful stories about the ballpark and the history of baseball in Columbus. We met team president Ken Schnacke, who greeted us warmly and spent 15 minutes chatting with us in his office. The whole experience was wonderful and exceeded all expectations.
Review by Gary & Mike
The ballpark that replaced the venerable Cooper Stadium is a gem. The downtown setting, right next to the Columbus Blue Jackets arena, gives it a big-league feel, and it is clear that tremendous thought went into it’s design. It holds 10,000 fans, but feels very intimate, with just one main seating bowl that stretches from foul pole to foul pole with bleachers in left field. The luxury suites sit above and behind the main grandstand, but it all feels very close to the field.
There is a brick building beyond the left field fence, a la Camden Yards, that houses a gift shop on the first floor, a club on the second and a rooftop grandstand taken straight out of the Wrigley Field playbook. This “warehouse” features several playful signs indicating mammoth home run distances should an Indians slugger ever play a rehab game in Columbus.
The right field fence is pressed right against the street and there are large, chain-link openings that allow the public to watch the game without a ticket. I love when neighborhood ballparks do this, giving something back to the community, offering a little free baseball to people passing by, or simply not able to afford a ticket. This is especially community-minded when one considers that no taxpayer money was used in the building of the ballpark.
Above the right field fence is a two-tiered standing area that extends out towards center field. The view from up there is great, looking down the right field line, directly above the fence. We saw two doubles ripped down the line and had to lean over the railing and look straight down to see the ball retrieved, careful not to lose our hats and have them float down to the field.
The large green HUNTINGTON PARK sign that sits atop the roof and wraps around home plate is a classic-looking focal point and is in keeping with the whole feel of the park, which seems like it is truly from another era. There is a distinct lack of advertising and a minimum of noisy sound effects. Even the scoreboards were understated, with the auxiliary scoreboards looking like they may have been brought from Cooper Stadium. This is by design, modern scoreboards deliberately made to look retro and classic.
Another feature we both liked was that the area behind home plate, both at field level and suite level, were given over to seating, with a nice bar at the very top. The press box was pushed over to the 3rd base side, giving the best seats in the house to fans rather than the press and broadcasters. Seeing this, it seems so obvious, yet this is the first time I have ever seen this done.
The view of the Columbus skyline was wonderful, especially as the setting sun cast it’s golden light upon the buildings of the Ohio state capital. Photos of Clippers greats and past ballparks are everywhere in the park as they embrace their rich history. The Clippers have done a wonderful job of building a modern ballpark with a classic feel, nods to other great parks and incorporating it all into the community. It all adds up to one of the best new ballparks in all of minor league baseball.