Minor league ballplayers are sure to love the amenities at spanking-new CHS Field. But it’s often not about the game for St. Paul Saints fans, raised on the quirky, anything-but-serious vibe of cramped, run-down Midway Stadium. The team sought to blend old traditions into the look and feel of its 7,210-capacity, $64.7 million project nestled on the edge of downtown St. Paul’s Lowertown community. Fans will start to find out for themselves at Thursday night’s home opener, which features a Mardi Gras-style parade to get the show underway.
Five things you won’t recognize
360-degree concourse: Who watches baseball from their seat these days? Fans who can’t sit still can walk around the park without missing a pitch — or places to eat and drink, a number of which are a step up from Midway Stadium fare.
Center field view: There’s no train beyond the outfield as there was at Midway, but get yourself to center field during the game and check out the St. Paul skyline looking west. Early favorite for the Instagram/Facebook money shot.
Getting there: If you’ve never been to Lowertown, take extra time on that first trip. There are parking lots along Kellogg Boulevard, among 3,000 spots to park within a four-block radius. The tailgating lot is on the east side of the park.
Home base for art: During each game the work of local artists will be displayed and for sale on the outdoor concourse behind home plate. It’s all part of the Saints’ attempts to be a good neighbor to Lowertown’s artist community.
That name: CHS, Inc., an agriculture cooperative based in Inver Grove Heights, paid for stadium naming rights. Its name owes to the merger years ago of locally based, farmer-owned Harvest States and Cenex.
Five things you’ll recognize
The pig: The live mascot, which provides baseballs to the home plate umpire, has its own specially built pen, tucked into the stadium bowels just a few feet away. The tradition harkens to a brief period when St. Paul was known as “Pig’s Eye,” after colorful former fur-trader and bootlegger Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant.
Low-cost seats: Five dollars lets you sit in the grassy picnic area behind the left field wall. Plus you’ll be close to the craft beer taps. For purchase day of game only. BYO blanket and sun tan lotion.
Stress relief: Sister Rosalind, whose in-game massages are one of the team’s most popular traditions, will have chairs set up to work the crowds again.
Midway memento: On the concourse behind home plate is a big mural of the old stadium, showing full seats, original season-ticket holders and team icons. The same one greeted fans at Midway.
Tailgating: A staple of the Midway experience has been approved for the Saints’ lot east of the stadium at Lafayette Street and Kellogg Boulevard.