Summer means baseball. Actually…spring heralds the beginning of baseball season, but “The Boys of Spring” just doesn’t sound right. So we won’t tinker with it.
When you think Chicago baseball, you typically think Cubs and White Sox, curses and scandals, World Series droughts and Disco Demolition. However, what the locals know that visitors may not is that we have a variety of Minor League options that can fulfill your baseball fix without wiping out your bank account.
There’s a concentration of Minor League teams in and around Chicago. The furthest our in Rockford and Peoria, with teams in Joliet, Crestwood, and Gary (IN) a bit closer. However, my personal favorite resides in Geneva, Illinois, and they have the distinction of being affiliated with one of the local big league Chicago teams – the Cubs – also my personal favorite. To be honest though…their affiliation has nothing to do with my affinity for them. It’s just that the Kane County Cougars have (in my opinion) the best product around.
I have visited Minor League parks in many locations over the years. As a matter of fact, each summer vacation my family takes will usually include a stop for a game close to our vacation destination. I’ve seen some historic parks (Grayson Stadium in Savannah, GA), and been to parks located in great cities (AutoZone Park in downtown Memphis, TN), but while the Cougars play in the relatively mundane Fifth Third Bank Ballpark on the outskirts of Geneva, the management of this team consistently provides and engaging and entertaining product both on the field and off. In addition, the food is top notch (for ballpark fare), the “beverages” are many, and the prices are reasonable. My experience is that I spend about 60% less on “incidentals” at a Cougar game than I do going to see the Cubs or Sox.
To further my praise for the Cougars, one needs to look at how some lesser organizations have failed in recent years. Joliet, Schaumburg, and Zion, have all had teams fold. The reasons are many, but ultimately coming down to lack of paying customers. This hasn’t been a problem at Kane County, where the Cougars consistently outdraw their competition.
If you live in Chicago, or plan to visit…and you enjoy the game of baseball as it was before millionaires started playing it, try to catch a game in Geneva. You won’t be disappointed by this minor distraction.
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