116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AutoZone Park – Memphis, Tennessee
Aug. 3, 2011 10:47 am
Note: This is part of Matt Nelson's "Ballparks of the Midwest" series.
Yes. It feels like the big leagues. AutoZone Park in downtown Memphis, home of the Memphis Redbirds, the AAA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, is the most expensive minor league ballpark ever built, and it shows.
The $80-million stadium opened in 2000 and it's clear that the money was spent on all of the small details at the park. Everything appears to be high-end, and makes you feel like you're at a major league ballpark. The stadium seats about 15,500, but has sizable standing room-only areas that can boost capacity to about 18,000.
The problem with an $80-million park is that you have to pay for it. Something the Redbirds are still dealing with. But, if you're a fan, you can't help but love this stadium. It's got the popular red brick facade, some quirks in the outfield, plenty of space to roam inside the heart of the stadium, a luxurious club/suite level, a huge scoreboard, and great views of downtown Memphis. The ballpark's fit in downtown is a snug one, in between several other buildings ranging from apartments and condos to parking ramps and more traditional downtown structures.
Memphis' facility holds the distinction of being the only park in the country where the ballpark favorite, the hot dog, is not the top seller at stadium concession stands. That top spot goes to the Rendezvous Barbeque nachos stand. Rendezvous is the popular barbeque from the down the street. For Redbirds games the barbeque is put right on top of the nachos.
AutoZone Park has been named the #1 ballpark in minor league baseball by Baseball America, and it's easy to understand why. This is a spectacular park in a great location with a big league feel.