— Matt Nelson
South Bend’s Coveleski Regional Stadium deserves to be in a “Ballpark Hall of Fame” if there was one. There’s really just one reason for that though. It was one of the very first minor league ballparks with open concourses when it opened in 1987 (the Silver Hawks were an expansion team in the Midwest League in 1988).
What’s interesting is that the concourse isn’t completely open at “The Cove” because the press box sits on the concourse level behind the plate. However, the concourse is mostly open which means you can see the game even when you’re in line at the concession stand. Silver Hawks President Joe Kernan says while there are some things they would do differently if they were buildling a park today, it was definitely a leader in the late ’80’s and set the course for the hundreds of ballparks built in the last twenty years.
Kernan hopes to do some work on The Cove in the next few years. They are hoping to give the ballpark a 360 degree concourse so that fans can easily walk all of the way around the inside of the park. As it is now, there is grass seating in much of the outfield for games with larger crowds, but you can’t get through in Center Field. Another possible change is moving the main entrance out to Center Field. The reason for doing this would be the hope that it would better connect the ballpark to downtown South Bend. Coveleski Stadium is just a few blocks to the southwest of downtown.
Another interesting item about The Cove is that between the warning track and the outfield fence there is a strip of grass, rather than going straight from the warning track to the wall. You can see that in one of the photos included below.
Coveleski Stadium is named for baseball Hall of Famer Stanley Coveleski. Coveleski pitched in the big leagues from 1912 to 1928 and threw spitballs back in the years when they were legal. When he retired, he did so in South Bend, where he was heavily involved in the community and baseball. You can see a plaque of Coveleski as well as others with strong baseball ties to the Michiana area in the South Bend Baseball Hall of Fame which is located on the concourse behind home plate.
The first few years of their existence the Silver Hawks were affiliated with the Chicago White Sox. However they are currently an Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate and have been since 1997. Kernan says the agreement has worked out well for both parties and that it certainly makes life a little easier not having to worry too much about finding a Player Development Contract with someone else.
The Silver Hawks are named for the old Studebaker Silver Hawk car which was produced in South Bend. The old Studebaker factory still stands across the street from the ballpark. There are plans to tear it down and redevelop the area, but that hasn’t happened yet. Just a few blocks north is the National Studebaker Museum which has an extensive collection of the classic cars last produced in South Bend way back in 1963. Also worth checking out in South Bend is the Notre Dame campus and the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown.
But, back to the ballpark. There’s nothing wrong with Coveleski Stadium, but there’s not necessarily anything that stands out either. It’s importance is in the fact that it was a trend setter when it was first built. Today it’s an adequete ballpark with friendly folks and plenty of other stuff to do around South Bend after going to the game.
Please be sure to watch the KCRG-TV9 video stories on both Coveleski Regional Stadium as well as the museums of South Bend!