Tag Archives: professional baseball

What’s behind the big pile of dirt on Raab Road?

Dozens of times over the past several months, I have driven past the CornBelters stadium site on Raab Road wondering just what was going on behind the big pile of dirt.

This photo taken from the pressbox, directly behind home plate, shows the seating bowl behind home plate and down the first base line, the outline of the first base dugout, and the rightfield berm in the distance.  At the top of the seating area will be a wide concourse that will wrap around the stadium.

This photo taken from the pressbox, directly behind home plate, shows the seating bowl behind home plate and down the first base line, the outline of the first base dugout, and the rightfield berm in the distance. At the top of the seating area will be a wide concourse that will wrap around the stadium.

Monday night, the Normal Town Council got a first hand look at the excellent construction progress being made on the stadium that will be home to the Frontier League baseball team and Heartland Community College baseball, softball, and men’s and women’s soccer.

By the way, that big pile of dirt is actually a seating berm.

A worker lays sod on the left field seating berm Monday evening at the stadium under construction at the east end of the Heartland Community Colege campus on West Raab Road.

A worker lays sod on the left field seating berm Monday evening at the stadium under construction at the east end of the Heartland Community Colege campus on West Raab Road.

Perhaps anticipating Tuesday’s rains, crews were laying down sod on the twin berms which will provide outfield seating for baseball fans and spectators of other events held in the stadium.

On the other side of the berm, you get a true sense of what it will be like inside the stadium.

Inside, the concrete retaining wall has been poured and the dugouts are clearly visible down each line.   You also get a sense of the amount of permanent seating, about ten rows of seats between the press box and the box seats behind home plate and extending down the left field and right field lines to about the far side of each dugout. 

You also can see evidence of concession stands, luxury suites, and restrooms along a very wide concourse that will completely circle the stadium.

Club officials say that if all goes well the field turf will be installed around Nov. 1.

Already, 10 of the 12 suites have been sold, along with hundreds of season tickets.   

A-maizing progress, indeed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, Heartland Community College, Town Council

Chicago Tribune pokes fun at Normal contest, generates additional publicity

After a busy weekend (watching three soccer games, two baseball games, and a minor league baseball game), I literally passsed out  in my green chair Sunday night before I got a chance to pass along the story in the Chicago Tribune on our little contest we’ve got going down here.

Meanwhile, I haven’t changed my vote. 

As Harry Caray would say, "He had a cut!"  The Peoria Chiefs plied us with $5 tickets Saturday night under the guise of honoring the Parkside Junior High Cross Country team before the game.  Once in the ballpark, the Nielsen's spent at least another $40.  The rains came in the 7th inning.  Like most good minor league baseball fans, I can't recall who was winning at the time.

As Harry Caray would say, "He had a cut!" The Peoria Chiefs plied us with $5 tickets Saturday night under the guise of honoring the Parkside Junior High Cross Country team before the game. Once in the ballpark, the Nielsen's spent at least another $40. The rains came in the 7th inning. Like most good minor league baseball fans, I can't recall who was winning at the time.

I’m still solidly behind the CamelBacks.  Although, I helped my son vote for the CornBelters tonight.  He was torn between them and the Fellers.

I have to admit it’s a little disappointing that you go through all the rigamarole plugging in the code and filling out the application to vote and you don’t get to see your vote count.

I’ll live over it.

I was reminded how much fun we will have next year watching our team –whatever it’s named.   We attended Saturday night’s Peoria Chiefs game.   The team honored the state champion Parkside Junior High Cross-Country team and gave families discounted $5 tickets to the game.

Smart marketing move, because we spent a whole lot more in the seven innings before the rains came and the tarp covered the field.

During the process of attracting professional baseball to Normal, our ad-hoc committee learned that 62 percent of all fans who attend a minor league game can’t tell you who won.

They do end up entertained and a little lighter in the wallet.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball

Name that Team heads into the final days of voting

Nutz to the NightHawks!

Coal Bears?  Doesn’t he already have a NASA treadmill named after him?   Do we really want to feed his oversized ego?

And doesn’t a Coal Bear sound like its part of the Cub family?    And who really wants to be associated with the Cubs?   We do want this team to win a Frontier League title sometime in the next century, don’t we?   

 Naming our team the Coal Bears would be like giving them the shaft,  dooming them to losing seasons or even worse —  being swept every year in the first round of the playoffs.   

No, our beloved Normal team needs to be named after the ubiquitous crop that fattens livestock, sweetens beverages, and fuels our vehicles.

The Normal CornBelters.    There’s some rhythm there.  

With this name you’re saluting corn — a staple of the American diet — and a major part of what makes the local landscape so beautiful.    corn

The corn dogs, the hamburgers, and the nachos all contain corn.

The name has a double meaning.   Here in Normal we’re in the middle of the Corn Belt that stretches from Iowa through Illinois and into Indiana.

A belter is a good hitter.

Good hitters belting the ball around a ballpark located in the middle of the Corn Belt.    What a mental picture.

As the great Jack Buck would say: “That’s a winner!”

Name That Team: Vote Normal CornBelters.

2 Comments

Filed under Baseball

Meet Mr. Normal Professional Baseball — Alan Sender

He’s the straw that stirred the drink, our fearless leader, our clean up man and closer all rolled into one.

He is Alan Sender — Chris Koos’ neighbor, a poor unfortunate Cubs fan, and the citizen most responsible for attracting professional baseball to Normal.heartland-cc-stadium-groundbreaking-033009-001

As the unelected head of the ad-hoc baseball committee, Alan rode herd over the rest of us as we listened to the sales pitches of league commissioners, met potential owners, worked with consultants, weighed stadium proposals, and received our indoctrination into the crazy business of professional baseball.

Alan was the first to articulate our committee’s purpose.  He visited minor league ballparks, courted potential owners, and lit a fire under us as it became evident that the clock was ticking on Heartland Community College’s $3.5 million contribution and our committee seemed no closer to landing a team than we were the day we first met.

Alan pushed to get consultant Mike Thiessen hired, and Mike’s efforts helped accelerate interest in the project.   In the final push, we saw a flurry of interest from various leagues and ownership groups, which included some of the biggest names in sports.

 We were actually able to pick and choose who we wanted to work with. 

Alan’s work wasn’t done.  He addressed the Town Council and the Heartland Community College board and was our spokesman in the news media.    He accompanied the ownership group on visits to local businesses, helped put together the ballpark financing, and became a part owner of the Frontier League franchise himself.

As a citizen-volunteer, Alan Sender put his money where his mouth is.   And before the first pitch is ever thrown or first corner kick ever taken at the new stadium on Heartland’s beautiful campus, this community is better for it.

2 Comments

Filed under Baseball, Heartland Community College