Here's the the picture on the walk up to the Sec Taylor Field at Principal Park:
As you walk up to one of the gates on the exterior of the ballpark you're greeted by a twenty foot tall blow-up version of the Iowa Cubs' mascot. I wasn't able to snap a picture of the actual mascot, because he just wasn't available very often. It was a hot night, a little too hot for a bear to be out just walking around.
Here's a picture of the left field corner with the downtown Des Moines skyline in the background. Des Moines is much larger than I remember and this picture only captures about half of the larger buildings.
In the right field corner there was a fountain that kept the younger portion of the crowd occupied. I counted at least thirty different kids playing in the fountain at one time or another.
Below are the stairs that lead up to the gate entrance, in right field, that is visible to the right of the fountain in the picture above. I asked a usher if the gate is ever open and this individual said that on busier nights they use the gate as intended, or when they are tipped off that the fire marshal may be coming through the ballpark on a given night. Otherwise, the gate remains closed. Huh. The Des Moines River borders Principal Park on two sides and also features a nice walking path that I used to get to the ballpark.
The inside of the ballpark is decked out in everything Cubs. The menu items were pretty much identical to what you can find at Wrigley Field, except for the notable absence of bison dogs. Also along the concourse you could find the gift shop and plenty of attractions to keep the kids occupied.
This game also featured two mascot races. The first one pitted three different burgers against one another, but the costumes weren't really as elaborate as the one I have pictured. Below, the soft drink and bag of chips finished behind the hot dog in the race. None of the contestants fell in the race like they had in previous parks. I had money on the bag of chips falling, but the contestant "hiked up" the bag portion of the costume to knee height while running.
Excuse me for the night picture, but I forgot to photo the manual scoreboard before I sat down on a table in the center field pavilion. I changed seats after the seventh inning stretch and then took this shot. It doesn't deliver the "wow" factor that Wrigley's manual scoreboard does, but it does offer a nice sense of history to the ballpark.
Here's a shot of what the back of the scoreboard looked like. I talked with the scoreboard operator throughout the game and came to a very important conclusion: When I retire, I want to be the operator of a manual scoreboard! Previously I had my sights set on being an usher, but the scoreboard is so cool and it involves numbers! This math nerd loves numbers!
This was my second trip in the last two years to Principal Park. It's a nice enough park, although it comes up short with some of the other minor league parks I have already visited on this trip. It wasn't nearly as aesthetically pleasing as Werner Field and the in between innings entertainment was a little on the "meh" side. The I-Cubs are affiliated with the Chicago Cubs, which I'm sure that helps bring people to the park. Yet, the I-Cubs, much like their parent club tends to do, lost this one to the New Orleans Zephyrs (Astros) by the score of 3 to 1.
So, that's my last day of baseball roadtripping. I've been writing this entry from the comforts of my man cave. I'll have a couple more entries relating to this trip posted in the next few days. Until then, thanks for checking in and following me on my summer vacation!