Rand: The party at Midway Stadium comes to a close

  • Updated: August 27, 2014 - 10:41 PM

The Saints play their final game at the soon-to-be-demolished Midway on Thursday.

hide

Fans in the stands at Midway Stadium cast a shadow on the field as the grounds crew prepared the field for Wednesday night's game, the second-to-last at the St. Paul ballpark.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, DML - Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Tailgating was a “foreign concept” to Sean Aronson until 2007, the year he starting working for the St. Paul Saints. Aronson, the team’s director of broadcasting and media relations, remembers opening day that season, wondering why at 5 p.m. — two hours before first pitch – the team’s Midway Stadium parking lot already was filling up.

He asked Saints GM Derek Sharrer if there was a promotional giveaway about which he didn’t know.

“He said ‘no, all these people are here to tailgate,’” Aronson said. “To see people two hours before the game having a giant party, when it was probably 50 degrees out, I’ll never forget that.”

It stands out to Aronson as the most memorable moment he’s experienced at Midway Stadium, which is probably fitting. The venerable ballpark’s time is almost up. The Saints, who have called Midway home since 1993, play their final game there at 7:05 p.m. Thursday vs. Winnipeg; in 2015, they will move into a brand new park in St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood, while Midway is slated to be demolished.

The tailgating scene played out night after night at Midway Stadium — as it did Tuesday, when this writer took in his first Saints game in a few years — with many fans lingering in the parking lot until the middle innings, if they made it into the ballgame at all.

It helped create an atmosphere that was a party, a side show and a baseball game rolled into one — quite often in that order, and unapologetically so on the Saints’ part. Eat, drink, see a pig deliver baseballs, get a massage from a nun, and maybe see the home team win — all in the name of fun.

Aronson promises the team will bring that same atmosphere to its new 7,000-seat ballpark, but he also acknowledges that plenty of patrons consider Midway’s quirks and lack of amenities to be endearing.

“This is a ballpark that offers kind of a unique perspective on the game of baseball. We’re one of the last ballparks around with the metal bleachers. The restrooms are such that there are two main men’s and women’s restrooms and the rest are porta-potties,” he said. “I think our fans have become accustomed to that, and I think they almost look at it as part of the charm of going to a Saints game.”

Those Midway fans have been treated to plenty of on-field moments along the way as well. Darryl Strawberry played for the Saints. So did a host of other Major Leaguers, including J.D. Drew, Kevin Millar and current Twins reliever Caleb Thielbar.

More often than not, though, fans have come for fun. And they’ve found plenty of it. Thursday night will offer one more chance for a baseball party at the old yard. Among the simple crowd-pleasing promotions for the finale: $1 beers and fireworks, a can’t-miss combo.

“This last home stand is for the fans,” Aronson said. “They’ve made their own memories. They’ve made the friends they now hang out even in the offseason. We’re just providing the backdrop and location for them to reminisce and get nostalgic.”

 

MICHAEL RAND

  • related content

  • Luke Brouillette, 10 of Lino Lakes tried to get the attention of a Saints player before the start of Wednesday night’s game.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Brooklyn 109 FINAL
Boston 107
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Orlando 89
Indiana 109 FINAL
Detroit 119
Milwaukee 107 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Houston 117 FINAL
Memphis 111
San Antonio 90 FINAL
New Orleans 97
Charlotte 75 FINAL
Oklahoma City 98
LA Lakers 98 FINAL
Dallas 102
Minnesota 102 FINAL
Denver 106
Philadelphia 91 4th Qtr 0:26
Portland 114
Phoenix 115 FINAL
Sacramento 106
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(15) Arizona State 12/27/14 1:10 PM
Duke
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite Gophers head coach?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close