West Comstock, MI
Review by Gary & Mike
After more than 170 ballpark visits, you would think it would be hard to surprise us, but our visit the LMCU Ballpark did just that. It was a quick drop-in on the way to the airport and we fully expected a standard mid-90s affair in the usual boxes-over-concourse style. What we found was a delightful stadium with a unique, fun vibe.
Founded in 1994 and located outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the West Michigan White Caps are the High-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. While the stadium now accommodates 8,942 fans, the ballpark’s capacity has varied through the years and was built entirely with private funds. No taxpayer dollars were used in the construction.
While one cannot walk completely around LMCU, fans can take in the game from almost any vantage point. There are second-level enclosed suites wrapping round from base-to-base, private club and group seating, grassy berms and standing room only areas. The spacious gift shop is particularly impressive and is located behind the concourse where the myriad of concessions run. We liked the throwback, manual scoreboard in left field, complete with the analog clock at the top of it, which complimented the video board in right field.
There was a subtle nautical theme, befitting the Whitecaps moniker, as the stadium was painted in shades of aqua and blue. The Stadium Club stood just right of centerfield, another covered party deck in right field and The Rooftop deck down the rightfield line, just behind the grassy berm. A biergarten with picnic tables sat near the right field foul pole, and down the leftfield line was an enclosure with cushioned chairs as well as swivel chairs and a ledge for food and drink right alongside the field of play.
The ballpark had a real organ with a real-live organist right on the concourse behind home plate. You could watch her belt out encouraging tunes and crowd-pleasing classics to keep everyone fired up for the game. A collection of odd mascots, including a pig with a life preserver, roamed the stands to delight the kids.
And then… there was the food. LMCU Ballpark boasts what may be the widest variety of drool-inducing cuisine we have ever seen at a ballpark, major or minor league. We couldn’t decide what to have, gave a brief thought to the impossibly large “Fifth Third Burger” (five one-third pound patties, complete with a health warning), but eventually settled on a magnificent pulled pork sandwich with mac & cheese and onion rings. If it came with a side of heart attack, it would have been worth it. Magnificent.
Until the West Michigan Whitecaps began their inaugural season in 1994, Grand Rapids had been without a professional baseball team for 40 years after the Grand Rapids Chicks disbanded in 1954. On the day we visited, LMCU Ballpark certainly showed that fans enjoyed coming to see the game and spend some quality time at a really nice baseball stadium.