Taking in a Game at Smokies Stadium
On 7/17/21, I attended my first game at Smokies Stadium. The matchup: Smokies vs Braves. It was a fairly standard Tennessee summer night, temps in the mid 80s. There was a 60% chance of rain, but the rain fortunately moved to the south instead of being a direct hit. It wound up being a nice night for a Smokies win.
I was able to score seats in the second row behind home plate. The people who purchased the front row apparently didn't show up, so I had a completely unobstructed view of home plate. The view was fantastic. You could see all the action clearly. I loved it.
There were two foods and two drinks consumed that night. Before the game, we made a stop to the Bush's Beans section in right field, where we purchased some custom made nachos. On the way back to our seats, we stopped by a mixed drink stand and got a mule and a fruity booze blackberry slushie. Halfway through the game, I was still hungry and opted to try the Boomstick. Then finally washed it all down with Bud Light seltzer.
Nachos: Very good for ballpark nachos. They have a section where you can choose your size, choose your chip type, pick a meat, pick a type of beans (from 4 different kinds of Bush's Beans), then add whatever nacho toppings you'd like (lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, etc.). This is also the section where they sell the famous Rocky Tots. I customized mine to include a souvenir bowl, chips, beef, fiesta beans, nacho cheese, sour cream, lettuce, tomato, and salsa. It was fresh and tasty. All the ingredients were solid, and none of it was tasteless filler. Furthermore, none of it was greasy or gross (like most ballpark nachos are). 8.5/10
Boomstick: A footlong Bratwurst that comes with grilled onions/red pepper medley, and bier cheese poured on top. It's 3/4ths of a pound and plenty thick (PHRASING! ~ tina). It took me about 3 innings to eat.
Here's the deal, I am an extreme Bratwurst snob. Part of my cultural heritage is German, so I've had some mighty fine beer brats in my time. I go camping half a dozen times a year, and always bring bratwurst, for it's a fantastic campfire food. Furthermore, I'm a regular at Mariano's specialty meat counter, which often has at least half a dozen types of specialty brats. I say all of that to mention, that plain bratwurst rarely gets me going.
The Smokies brat was plain, but was complimented very well with the cheese and peppers. But to me, it lacked extra flavor inside the casing. Still a good brat. Just below my insanely high standards. 8/10
They have a mixed drink stand. I picked up a Mountain Mule, which was blackberry moonshine and ginger beer. It was fantastic. Not too boozy, plenty of flavor, and very fresh tasting. I enjoy a good Moscow mule, and this was a very slick alternative to that. 9/10.
Early in the game, where was a video message from Brennan Davis wishing his mother a happy birthday. I'm sure she was happy to see her son line a ringing double off the wall for his first at bat, then a solid homer run for his second. He looked good. Real good.
The game would end with a 2-0 Smokies win. The Smokies staff looked really good, lead by 6 shutout innings from Luis Lugo. The only hiccup was runners on second and third in the 9th, but Ethan Roberts steadied up and slammed the door shut. Nice work kid!
After the game was a fireworks show out of centerfield. In my experience, I've seen a decent amount of baseball fireworks shows. This was above and beyond the best one. Honestly, it rivaled my town's Fourth of July shows as well. I don't have a Top five list of firework shows picked out in my memory, but if I did, this one would totally make it.
One of the cool quirks to the stadium is the sound system. They have a sound operator there who deserves a raise. They regularly play Homer Simpson "WOO!" and the entire stadium echoes it. They had a bunch of well timed quickly sound effects for hits, errors, and foul balls. Most minor league parks do that type of thing, but this was noticeably sharper on the execution. My favorite part was playing the Imperial March from Star Wars when the opposing lineup was being announced.
Overall, it was a fantastic time watching a game from Smokies Stadium. Everything was very nice and convenient. The views were good, and the food was tasty. There was a nice energy in the stadium as well. The experience outdid plenty of big league stadiums I've been to as well. Nothing tops a packed house at Wrigley ever, but there's a very similar vibe going on in eastern Tennessee.
Chicago-based Cubs fans, it is worth the 9 hour drive to Kodak. I am not over-exaggerating when I say that a trip to see the Smokies is well worth it. Check them out!