Victory Field

August 14, 2021
Victory Field (Capacity: 12,230)
Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis Indians vs St. Paul Saints
Final Score: 7-4

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A week-long foray into the Midwest with the family started in the state capital of Indiana. With a population just under 1 million, Indianapolis is at the center of the state in more ways than one as all roads seem to point to The Circle City. Indy has a varied economy and it has become a respectable center for many tournaments and conventions. Even though basketball is most popular, baseball has a storied history as they have been a part of Triple-A since 1902. The Indians (affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates) are owned by the community and there are many long-time investors/stockholders. They are very successful overall and are led by long-time president and chairman, Bruce Schumacher, whose family owns about 40% of the stock. On the field, the Indians have won 14 league titles, with the last one coming in 2000. The last decade has seen the team make the playoffs multiple times. Victory Field became home to the team in 1995 and it opened to great fanfare as part of the “retro” fad spurred by Camden Yards. Like it’s brethren to the east, this ballpark holds up very well and is still worthy of the accolades.
Prestige Ranking: 3.5 out of 5

Location

Indianapolis may not be on the radar of most travelers, but it should be as there is a lot to do in this clean city. We had plenty to fill our four days as visitors can check out the famous Motor Speedway, several museums (including the massive and world-renowned Children’s Museum) and CanalWalk. After taking a paddleboat down the canal, you can walk to White River State Park and see the State Museum. This is all within walking distance to Victory Field’s downtown location. Even though restaurants aren’t immediately surrounding the building, it’s just a 10-minute walk east (where you could park anyway) that you’ll find a ton of places to eat, including the famous St. Elmo Steak House. This area is the heart of the city, centered by the beautiful Soldiers and Sailors Monument.
Location Ranking: 9 out of 10

Accessibility / Parking

Access to Indianapolis is easy and the simplest route to the ballpark is taking I-70. Exit 79 leads right to the ballpark and it also goes by the parking area between Lucas Oil Stadium and the Convention Center. However, on the Saturday Night we attended, I ran into a lot of traffic in the area (the Colts weren’t home) and that parking area was full. Signage wasn’t helpful, but there are a lot of garages and lots within the vicinity. I prepped ahead of time, so I found one without issue, but this type of congestion and uncertain parking can cause some aggravation. Mass transit also lacks. Getting out of the garage that I used across from the Convention Center took awhile (15 minutes) given that the stadium was only a quarter-full when we left at the end of the game.
Accessibility / Parking Ranking: 5 out of 8

Exterior

It’s too bad that centerfield is the main entrance because most fans miss the nice architecture seen on the rarely used home and third base side. A mixture of multi-colored brick and green trim/windows give a polished look to a surprisingly tall stadium, with “Victory Field” stamped loudly on the top of the wall. It’s not like the centerfield entrance is bad either as a small brick building is topped by the signature at the stadium, an arch with the ballpark name on it.
Exterior Ranking: 7 out of 10

Concourse

The centerfield plaza is a good meeting area and the space has concessions, advertisement tents and only a couple picnic tables. The lack of tables was very frustrating on this night as our family couldn’t find a place to sit and eat before the game as all the other sections are closed off to groups (even more discouraging was no kids play area, which meant a long 3 hours for our kids aged 6 and 2). As the 360-degree concourse wrapped around to the infield, it struck me just how clean everything appeared. The main section featuring concessions had an open view to the field the entire time and the look was a continuation of multi-colored brick walls and green support beams. Despite an upper-deck, one concourse served the entire seating bowl and I would imagine this would be crowded in the event of a 10,000+ capacity night.
Concourse Ranking: 4 out of 5

Food

Food seemed bland as I scoured the stadium looking for variety and found much of the same thing at the many stands. Outside of the ballpark staples, you could get a “Premium Chicken Tenders” or “Signature Chicken Sandwich”, but there was nothing special about them. The “Triple Play” of Fries, BBQ Chicken and Mac/Cheese wasn’t appetizing either. I did look to see if options were reduced because of Covid, so I looked at the 2019 menu and there really wasn’t anything missing except for some fancy hot dogs and tater tots. Beer at least was represented well and local favorite Sun King brewing was the best choice. They even have a special beer sold only at the ballpark. Another popular option was the Mason Jars that had appealing mixed drinks.
Food Ranking: 5.5 out of 8

Interior

Victory Field has a flawless design which is highlighted by a double-decker seating bowl. The lower-level has seats that go to the foul pole and individual chairs are turned a little towards the field, a favorite touch of mine. Upper deck seats don’t extend as far and there’s about an equal number of rows compared to the level below. Chairs are green. Each one is wide, comfortable and has a solid sightline with no obstructions. It’s fine if someone sits in front of you on the second level, however the first level you might have to slightly peer around someone’s head. There’s also limited cover, mainly from an overhang that goes over several 200 section top rows. On that upper level behind home plate is club seating, while traditional luxury suites branch off of that to the left and right with a party deck to bookend. The views beyond the playing field are also decent as you get a good look at downtown Indianapolis. In addition, the impressive Lucas Oil Stadium and a steam factory can be seen beyond the first base side and the striking JW Marriott hotel towers over left-field. Grassy berm seating in the outfield can hold about 2,000 fans and corners of the stadium are taken by picnic areas. Even though the stadium doesn’t have a signature or unique feature, it’s hard to find a flaw in this ballpark as it is just what you would want to draw up.
Interior Ranking: 13 out of 14

Scoreboard

Even though there are nine ads on the entire scoreboard, the video screen is still very large and has more than sufficient space. I like the look of the during-game graphic as all the information you want to see is on there. The video is crystal clear and replay frequency is excellent. At the top of the scoreboard, it says “Victory Field, Home of the Indianapolis Indians”.
Scoreboard Ranking: 3.5 out of 4

Displays

This is one weak point of the stadium, especially given the history of the club. The only thing devoted to the team, were banners hanging from the ceiling of the concourse that showed past players, who are now in the Big Leagues. As you enter from centerfield, there is a large team logo. It’s a great logo as it features a Navaho quilt pattern (though I’m sure the nickname will probably go away soon). Another cool feature is the Victory Bell, which is rung after each win. Each year, the High School State Championships are held here and the concourse has a nice display for that with each champion having their jersey and cap prominently featured. Though I love this, I can’t believe it’s way better than anything I saw honoring the main tenant.
Displays Ranking: 2 out of 6

Cost

The parking garage I got stuck using cost me $20, which is outrageous for a minor league baseball game. Yes, it should be noted that most lots are $10, but I’m bitter. Tickets are at least on par with other area Triple-A teams as most seats here go between $15 – $18. There is a cheaper lawn option for $12 as well. Concessions aren’t bad, I just hate how they don’t include the sales tax in the price listed. It’s such a sneaky move (as is charging $1.49 for a cheese cup). With the tax, a cheeseburger was around $5, a  Hot Dog cost $4 and a regular soda was around $5. Most beer cost $8.
Cost Ranking: 6 out of 8

Fan Support

Indianapolis has a huge population to draw from as they are one of the biggest minor-league markets around, so it is no surprise to see the team annually rank Top 5 in attendance across MiLB. Still, with all the entertainment options in the city, their popularity is impressive. Looking at the eight teams that made the playoffs in the mid-2010s, the Indians ranked second in average attendance. For our game, we had a beautiful Saturday Night and it was a house that was about half full. Crowd size comparison in 2021 is certainly a more difficult proposition given that we are still in the middle of a pandemic. However, given that half of the country is vaccinated and the other half doesn’t care about Covid, I think it is fair to evaluate fan support.
Fan Support Ranking: 6 out of 8

Atmosphere

The atmosphere was fine, nothing too notable. The fans popped fine during plays and there was some clapping after a successful inning. Even though there wasn’t much urging of the team on, I thought there were really good cheers during a rally and twice, the building got loud. In fact, many stood when the winning run was scored.
Atmosphere Ranking: 9 out of 14

Other Stuff

Victory Field is one of the few stadium names not sponsored (yay!). It’s an honor for a brief prior name to their old stadium, which was given during World War II (everything was V is for Victory)…..The aforementioned long-time older park on the city’s Northwest side was mainly known as Bush Stadium and the skeleton of it still exists as it was recently converted to apartments and lofts…..Howard Kellman has been doing the play-by-play since the 1970s and is an absolute legend, not to mention a walking encyclopedia, fitness fanatic and motivational speaker. He’s called nearly 6,500 games for the Indians and continues to go strong….A thoughtful feature in the park is a sensory wall to help relax kids with autism.

Game

Things were not looking good for the home side as they were held to just two hits through the first six innings as the Saints built a comfortable lead. Everything turned in the 7th inning as Indianapolis mounted a rally when a Phillip Evans two-out double led the Indians back to a 4-4 tie. In the 8th, a Chris Sharpe double had the fans on their feet as that brought three runs home and Indy held on to a 7-4 victory.

Stadium Experience Ranking: 73.5 out of 100

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