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Cedar Rapids features modern, cozy ballpark

Posted July 3, 2013

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — A week ago the Cedar Rapids Kernels welcomed the 2,000,000th fan to Veterans Memorial Stadium. The fan was showered with $3,000 worth of gifts. Of course that was the 2,000,000th fan of the new Veterans Memorial Stadium, which was completed in 2001. The old Veterans Memorial Stadium housed a minor-league baseball team from 1949-2001. "We're very pleased we got 2,000,000 fans in 12 1/2 seasons," Kernels general manager Doug Nelson said. The Kernels became an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins this season and attendance at the park, called Perfect Game Field, has jumped nine percent. The Twins' affiliate in the Midwest League had been in Beloit, Wis., the past eight seasons. The organization seems to like its new location and ballpark very well. "It's not the same support we get here," Kernels manager Jake Mauer said of playing in Beloit. "They did everything they could, but this is way better for us as far as moving our facility here." Veteran Memorial Stadium is a modern minor-league facility and very fan friendly. It seats more than 7,000 fans and there are side attractions for fans young and old. "We're having a great time," said Curt Frank of Mason City, Iowa, who recently attended an afternoon game with his wife and three young children. "It's a nice stadium." A number of former Kernels players who played in one of the stadiums in Cedar Rapids ended up playing for the Twins over the years. Of course they all started out in another organization. Some ex-Kernels who have played in Minnesota include John Roseboro (1955), Phil Roof (1960), Chili Davis (1978), Les Straker (1980) and Alexi Casilla (2004-05). The Kernels staff had to make only minor changes in the stadium when the team switch affiliations from the Angels to the Twins. "Really not a whole lot then obviously removing anything that had an Angles logo on it and replacing it with a Twins logo," Nelson said. "We've changed some of our promotions to promote the Twins." Cozy park setting The ballpark itself has very good site lines to watch a game. It is a cozy park, with a lot of quality box seats. But every seat in the park seems to be very close to the action. "The ballpark is awesome," Chad Pattridge of Cedar Rapids said. "It's very kid friendly. They have a lot of great things for kids." There is a grassy knoll area, down the third-base line, where kids can roam around or look to snare a foul ball. Off to a side is a Kid Zone play area. There is also a landing with picnic tables that make it easy to consume food or beverages. Farther down the left-field line is a beer garden, which leads to open seating close to the field, while an adult Party Plaza is featured down the line in right field. Behind the fence in left field is a small bleacher area. There are also indoor suites, which flow to the outdoors where fans can sit and watch the game. "The park has a lot of great facilities," Nelson said. That includes amenities for the players and coaches. The locker rooms are a decent size and batting cages are located beneath the stadium. "I feel like I'm close to the big leagues," said Twins prospect Max Kepler, who played his first game in Cedar Rapids last week. "I'm at a great facility, people are supporting us and it's great weather. I'm just happy to be here." Prices are also affordable. Tickets at the park range from $7-11 in advance or $8-12 at the gate. From: