Review by Mike
For more than 80 years, baseball in Wichita was synonymous with venerable Lawrence-Dumont Stadium (see below), but when the city was granted the rights to the AAA franchise from New Orleans, it was decided that the old ballyard’s time had passed. The park was levelled, and the shiny new Riverfront Stadium built in its place. And then the pandemic canceled the inaugural season in 2020 and then MLB shuffled the minor leagues like a crafty blackjack dealer. When the cards were finally dealt, Wichita no longer had the AAA franchise that never played there, but instead would be home to the Wichita Wind Surge of the AA Texas League. Got all that? There will be a test.
Like most ballparks named “Riverfront Stadium”, you can’t see the river. Oh, the Arkansas River flows past, just beyond the rightfield fence, but you can’t see it from inside the stadium. What you can see is a really lovely view of downtown, which is especially striking at night. The stadium itself is very nice. The main grandstand runs about halfway down each foul line with all fixed seating and no cross aisles to distract fans from the game.
A free-standing suite and press level stands above the open concourse at the top of the main grandstand. The whole structure stands on pillars and is not connected to the concession buildings. This open concept allows for a nice breeze to come through on warm Wichita summer nights. There is a party porch on the left field end of the upper level.
Grass berms down the left field line and in deep left field yield to various picnic areas in the outfield beyond the fence. These all feature tiers of tables and chairs where you can relax and enjoy a meal with the fear of fumbled fries. The bullpens are cut out of this relaxed dining zone allowing fans to engage with the ballplayers, which I saw some folks doing.
The ultra-wide concourse in the outfield is big enough to host a small car show and a gift shop in deep right centerfield also has a 2nd floor party room with an open air deck for events and groups. It’s all very comfortable and roomy while still feeling intimate. My only complaint is that I found no plaque or photo or remembrance of any kind to the ballpark that served this community on the same spot for more than 80 years. A nod to Lawrence-Dumont Stadium would have been nice.
There are artistic touches all around the ballpark, especially outside in the form of interesting light fixtures and the big mural for Wichita Baseball. Less obvious, and thus more delightful, is the hidden art that appears from nowhere. These exterior iron fences are painted on the inside edges with baseball images that can only be seen if you look along the line of the fence at a sharp angle, allowing the bars to line up side by side in your line of sight. On my way out, I spotted one, then walked all the way back to the beginning of the fence to enjoy them all. Well done, Wichita.