Sunday, July 20, 2014

Jacksonville Suns

The book that will chronicle the fantastical road trip that this blog covers is now 40% funded via Kickstarter cloud funding. You can be part of history and help bring "Gone to the Dogs" to print by visiting my kickstarter page. At least watch the video and see how handsome I am.

I had been to a baseball game in Jacksonville in the early 90s. I wasn’t sure it they still played in the worn but cozy ballpark I had seen them in before. When my GPS steered me to Bragan Field, it was obvious that the Suns have built new digs. The mostly red brick structure with dark green supporting steel framework is very reminiscent of the Ballpark in Arlington (now called Globe Life Ballpark). It sports a modest party deck area, a smallish grass berm GA seating area, some outfield bleachers and a concourse that seems a bit tight. One of its most unique features is the stairway leading up to the main concourse once you are in the main gate. It reminds me of a much older and less efficiently built ballpark until one clears this feature. The quaint interior belied the slick exterior. I had the feeling I was in a much older ballpark that had seen Joan Rivers’ plastic surgeon for a facelift.

In a trip that has been a collection of weird coincidences (of which will be chronicled in the book “Gone to the Dogs”) I received my first bobblehead giveaway, the night before I had visited the bobblehead museum inside the Miami Marlins ballpark.

Bun-nice and fresh.
Taste-despite probably being the first name you think of when you think of hot dog wieners, this was the first ballpark that served Oscar Mayer franks. They were pretty good, and the slightly burned frank added to the texture and taste.
Toppings-a decent selection.
Price-$4 is a little pricey for a minor league hot dog.
Portability-nicely done in larger paper wrapper.
It Factor-JAX falls short here. You get the regular dog, or there is a brat to choose from.

Location-near enough to downtown JAX to be considered a downtown park.
Access-walk, bike, drive, bus.
GA Ticket Price-the Suns could do better for a grass berm seat than $7.50.
Cleanliness-typically, most ballparks get an easy top score for this. The ballpark in Jacksonville, while by no means nasty, had more trash than any ballpark I had been to floating around. The restroom was also out of pump soap and paper towels, and I was there an hour BEFORE first pitch. I suppose I caught the Suns on a off day, but I call them as I see them.
Fans-large and engaged crowd.
Ambiance-overall Bragan Field had the feel of a real baseball park.

DogBallparkTotal Dog/Game
Portability5GA Ticket Price4
It Factor2Fans5

I suffered the biggest quandary of my journey in Jacksonville. It was getting late and I had to be in Atlanta for a 1:30 pm Braves start to complete my final stop of MLB parks. It was a long 5 hour drive and I wanted to knock off a few hours before stopping for the night. I had to leave right after the game to do that. But the Suns had arranged for one of my favorite spectator sports to be conducted on the field right after the game...midget wrestling. Did you hear me MIDGET WRESTLING! Who doesn’t love that? I hadn’t see that since I was a kid, and then only on TV. In the end, I opted for the safe option and headed out of JAX as soon as the game was over, visions of elves, elves in tights doing the Atomic Elbow move,  dancing in my head during the drive to the Georgia state line.

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