This summer we had the opportunity to take an unbelievable family vacation across Tennessee, culminating at WWE's SummerSlam in the crazy town of Nashville. As with most of our family outings, we made a few stops at the minor league parks en route from NC to Nashville. Our first stop was in Kodak, TN to see the Tennessee Smokies (amazing ballpark!), followed by a night in Chattanooga, TN to see the Chattanooga Lookouts (less amazing)! Then, the real fun began...
2020 messed everything up. After visiting 8 ballparks in 2017, 18 ballparks in 2018, and 16 ballparks in 2019, suddenly our tally was back to 0.
2021 was a relief. Baseball was back. The energy was high! However, after relocating to Kannapolis, NC and becoming season ticket holders of the newly formed Kannapolis Cannon Ballers, our travel plans dwindled. We still made it to a few new parks over the summer months, but nothing like we'd experienced over the previous few years.
With Matt's increased umpiring schedule taking over his nights and weekends, and the expectation that we will remain Cannon Ballers season ticket holders in the years ahead, we decided we need to change things up a bit on ballparkadventures.com.
Our purpose has always been to show that going to a baseball game is the best value in entertainment, and that isn't going to change. The way we share information with the world of baseball fans who happen to be visiting this site will.
If you aren't already following us on Facebook or Instagram, you should. We share photos and videos live from the games and throughout the off-season, and we love interacting with fans in the comments. Keep it up! On the website, you'll be seeing less REVIEWS and instead, more content about our fun at the ballpark — from different perspectives. Who knows, maybe even the teenagers we drag along to the games with us will have something interesting to share (besides raving about their love of dipping' dots!)
So stay tuned. Keep reading.
We're excited to keep sharing all of our Ballpark Adventures!
We are feeling excited and nostalgic about our 2019 visit to the Field of Dreams in Dyersvile, Iowa... and of course we're rooting for the White Sox tonight!
BY: MATTHEW PRESLAR
The plan for the future was to one day settle in a small town that was home to minor league baseball. The setting would need to be one that fit our personality: a smaller town in a growing area and preferably a new stadium that would indicate a stable baseball market. In our years of ballpark visits we saw many areas to help us build a template.
Under normal circumstances our world would not have had a 2020. Everything would have remained as planned and our schedule for this new life would be in seven to ten years. The children would be through with high school and hopefully much less on the payroll. Rebecca and I would still be young enough to enjoy a fresh start. We talked often of where we might be in ten years.
BUT LIFE HAPPENS AND YOU STILL HAVE TO MAKE YOUR WAY!
Even in the wake of the unusual, we need to see inconveniences as opportunities. Income changes, work schedule changes, and habit changes aren’t always negative, just different opportunities.
Amidst the medical uncertainty and political turmoil, somehow the real estate market was doing very well. We learned we could make an outstanding profit on our house so we decided our future may be NOW. We began to research selling our home in Union County, NC and exploring the idea of finding that small town minor league market.
To our surprise, we didn’t have to look very far! Just an hour away from our Union County home is Kannapolis, North Carolina. While we have been to baseball games in Kannapolis, this small town hadn’t been on our radar until 2020.
The organization rebranded to the Cannon Ballers and built a beautiful new stadium, Atrium Health Ballpark. While still residing at our home an hour away, we bought into Kannapolis baseball and became season ticket holders for what would have been a ONE HOUR drive for that many ball games... WHAT WE WERE THINKING???
2020 happened resulting in several job difficulties. Problem? No, opportunity! Our future plan presented itself NOW, but could Kannapolis check all our boxes? New stadium indicating baseball stability, CHECK! Growing area which makes owning real estate a great investment, CHECK! A wife and children that never ask why, but why not? CHECK!
Finally... here we are, on the morning of opening day, May 4th (please keep your Star Wars jokes). We own a beautiful home less than ten minutes away from Atrium Health Ballpark. We have great neighbors and love everything about life at the moment.
Even though not “K Town” by birth, we are the new generation that will make this town a great place to live!
BY: MATTHEW PRESLAR
Once baseball was finally approved to begin the 2020 season, the Chicago White Sox (along with several other MLB teams) offered a chance for fans to purchase a cardboard cutout of themselves to be placed in the stands for the team's home games.
We decided to buy one! At first, it was only going to be for the team's opening homestand, but the cutouts have been such a hit that they'll remain up all season!
Our "fantastic face" is located above the visitors dugout. We caught a glimpse of Matt sporting his Kannapolis Cannon Ballers T-Shirt and his Charlotte Knights cap (both MiLB White Sox affiliates) in the screenshot below after Eloy Jimenez hit a homer during the opening series!
He's the guy screaming/cheering under the "Sports Chicago" logo in the upper right corner...
BY: MATTHEW PRESLAR
With government restrictions easing, more places to “hang out” are reopening. This includes Atrium Heath Ballpark, the shiny, brand new stadium in Kannapolis, NC. When minor league baseball resumes (probably in 2021) this will be home to the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers.
While 75% of our Ballpark Adventures crew is still not ready to immerse into this new world, I HAD TO GO. Leaving the family behind I went to investigate the finished product of what was to be our home away from home. We were going to be less adventurous this year and base our summer plans around what was supposed to be a special time in a special place. We had decided to purchase season tickets and be a part of the Cannon Ballers and Atrium Health Ballpark from day one.
Plans certainly change. Baseball is still nowhere to be found. However, more and more franchises have found ways to attempt to be profitable while not actually hosting a sporting event. The city of Kannapolis is no different with their new park.
Atrium Health Ballpark was set to host its first game on April 16. The park is ready to go and is sure to be a showplace. With the city of Kannapolis using this as the cornerstone for downtown revitalization, the park is a major source of pride. Considered a public park, the gates are open and anyone can walk the concourse just as you could any city walkway.
Now to the business. The team store is open and full of great choices. The team’s new color scheme speaks loudly to anybody proud to be American. Red, white, and blue make for great looking T-shirts, caps, and other souvenirs. Make sure to stop in the Cannon City Supply Co. to pick up some of the best looking gear in minor league baseball.
As for the main attraction: come enjoy a meal of your favorite ballpark food. Basket choices offer hamburger, hot dog, or chicken tenders with fries, cookie and a drink. I chose to eat a chicken tender basket while sitting in my season ticket seats. I looked out at the beautiful field and dreamed of better days ahead of enjoying a game with my wonderful family.
Even since my visit early Friday afternoon (2 days ago), more government restrictions have eased and more and more options are available at the park. While not yet pouring draft, several canned beers are available, including Baller Beer made by local Cabbarus Brewing Co. The team also opened a Nacho/Taco Bar that sells a range from taco salad bowls down to your basic chili/cheese nachos. This will surely ruin my good diet in the coming weeks.
If you’re anywhere near the area make time to visit the Cannon Ballers. Buy some merchandise and have a meal outdoors. Enjoy the beauty of the stadium and take the opportunity to reflect on all in which you are blessed. Also, a special thank you to Kannapolis for allowing me to have a small piece of my normal life. It is very appreciated.
Enjoy more of my day with the Cannon Ballers.
BY: MATTHEW PRESLAR
Attending over 20 ballgames and visiting 16 ballparks in 2019... we had quite an ADVENTURE this season. Take a moment to read our 2019 Year in Review!
BY: MATTHEW PRESLAR
For one more day, there is a minor league team that goes by the name of the Kannapolis Intimidators. For one more day, the team bought by the late Dale Earnhardt will sport his nickname as their own. (Interesting Fact: Dale died at Daytona about six weeks before a game was played as the KANNAPOLIS INTIMIDATORS). For one more day, those two words synonymous with one another actually go together.
Tomorrow starts a new day and a new era. Change is inevitable and it’s time for a fresh start. On my grandmother’s 91st birthday, the Kannapolis minor league baseball team rebrands with a new name they will adopt in conjunction with opening a new stadium for the 2020 season. As always, we are curious to see the logos, uniforms, and even the mascot. We are very hopeful that all these factors could make this our new home ballpark. We love the small town atmosphere Kannapolis has always offered and are optimistic the infrastructure will be in place to make the new ballpark a wonderful BALLPARK ADVENTURE.
BY: MATTHEW PRESLAR
— DURHAM BULLS --
Although major division rivals of our Charlotte Knights, we like to make a yearly check in at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP). This visit we scheduled as an overnight so we had time allowed to check out the town around the ballpark.
First off, I want to point you to Tobacco Road Sports Cafe. Tobacco Road is a pregame destination for many Bulls fans and you can actually enter the stadium for the game from the patio of the restaurant. We visited Tobacco Road three times during our short time in Durham. Tobacco Road appeared to be the only LATE NIGHT eatery open after the game in the immediate area around the park. The premium sandwiches offered at GREAT prices made this a great value well beyond expected for this upscale casual sports bar.
During our extra time in Durham, we explored the former industrial area. The AREA is dubbed Tobacco Road for a reason. Several brands of tobacco had factories just past the park into the downtown. You can essentially turn and look and see buildings for several different tobacco companies, including “Bull” Durham.