Community Field in Burlington, Iowa, is the home of the Burlington Bees, the Kansas City Royals affiliate in the Midwest League. It is the ballpark in the smallest community in the country with full season, affiliated, minor league baseball. That is something to be proud of for fans in Burlington. It’s not easy to keep a team going these days in a city as small as Burlington (population: 26,839 in the 2000 census).
The problem that results is that the attendance ranks near the bottom of the league. The Bees only average about 800 fans per game. However, those fans are very loyal. The most well-known of those fans is “Dancin’ Bobby.” He can be found near the dugouts…dancing of course. Any music that gets played during the course of a game, and he’s likely to be seen dancing to it. Dancin’ Bobby is an institution at Community Field.
Another group of die-hard fans don’t have reserved seats at Community Field, but rather, reserved standing room-only spaces down the left field line. It’s a pretty cool thing to see first names on nice looking signs reserving spots for the locals to stand during the games. You won’t find that at many parks.
Community Field opened in 1947. It burned in the early 1970′s and was rebuilt. Then in 2004-05 the ballpark underwent a significant amount of renovation, due in part to Vision Iowa money. New offices, concession stands, and team store, plus a very interesting overhang that gives the stadium a unique visual look, as well as providing shelter from the sun or from rain.
Beyond that, the ballpark has an older feel that isn’t found in many ballparks these days. It’s kind of nice to be in that setting as it feels more like minor league ballparks did in the 1980′s before the new wave of ballparks. There is no open concourse, they have some classic light towers, there’s still a lot of bleacher seating, the outfield wall is not padded, it’s just wood with advertising. While it’s not glamorous, there’s something to be said for a ballpark that doesn’t feel like many others still in use today.
A trip to Community Field in Burlington doesn’t cost much, and the seats are close to the action. Chances are you won’t have to fight a crowd in the parking lot or in the concessions lines. The thing to remember is that somehow, some way, affiliated minor league baseball lives on in this small town and this small, somewhat old-fashioned ballpark.
Check out the full Burlington report, including video and more photos, by clicking here.