I have gone on other sites with Minor League ballpark reviews ripping Huntsville's Joe Davis stadium to no end. They talked about the stadium was a trainwreck and that it is possibly the worst stadium in Minor League baseball. Now on top of it the ownership, knowing the ballpark is not a great stadium, has been religiously threatening to move the Huntsville Stars out of Huntsville and elsewhere in the Southern League. Most recently a deal for a new park has fallen through, leaving the Stars future in doubt. Meanitme, the ballpark remains poorly maintained.
Given the fact it *could* possibly be the final season for the Huntsville Stars and since I am fairly close by (3 hour drive), I HAD to get there and my Father's Day present from my wife and kids was going to Joe Davis Stadium. Going in there, I had low expectations. The stadium did not look like something that I would rate highly on my wish list given the pictures of the place I have seen.
I got there and entered more into an area that used to be probably strong in the industrial complex with tons of metal buildings, but there was a nice sports complex near the park and most of the buildings were sports related so the park actually fit in the area. We arrived at the stadium and parking was $4. Parking was plentiful but I made sure I stayed well past the foul ball zone. I looked at the outside and saw the aluminum siding all around. It isn't a gem to see something you would see outside a school gym, but I've seen way worse and it wasn't something I wanted to gouge my eyes out over. After it took us 10 minutes to get everything we needed to get in the park (2 kids mind you), we bought our tickets. It was $8 anywhere in the ballpark. We get in the fenced gates and the employees were all very nice gave us FOUR bobblehead dolls of Alabama native Hunter Morris and his kid (his toddler son was the only head that bobbled). We went to our seats, which was on the last row along the 1B side with any shade. The seats were excellent and I did not have a sore rear end from them. The sightlines were great actually. You could see any part of the field just fine from anywhere.
The inside view was a mixed bag. There were tons of seats given they use the park for football in the fall so tons of empty seats were around. Most of the park had that high school stadium feel with cement and bleachers dominating. The largest issue was the stadium upkeep where there were vacant signs and even signs that were ripped off, exposing rusted metal beyond the outfield. There were a couple of "saving graces" though. There were plenty of signs saying "stay alert" but it had a NASA font (given Huntsville is a major NASA city) and out beyond the walls were the Northern Alabama mountains. It gave a real scenic view to the area.
The food there was actually pretty good and had a decent variety for a park. I chose the burger on a bagel, which tasted excellent. My wife had a burger as well and loved it while my kids shared a dog and tater tots, which I snuck a bite on both and tasted pretty good. Prices save for the burger on a bagel and a hotdog on a pretzel bun were pretty good (everything was $4 or less). There was nothing in the way of souvenirs besides shirts, caps, and foam fingers. I actually overheard an employee get worried about the Stars leaving next year so even they don't know what is going on.
The game was a fun one though we nearly had a heart attack with a foul ball that nearly got my wife. But it went past her and bounced back behind me so I have a souvenir foul ball from the game. The scoreboard itself was brutal with only the line score working. The LED screen portion wasn't on nor was the ticker on which stunk.
But overall, I actually liked Joe Davis Stadium despite the blips. It wasn't the BEST stadium I've been to, but it had something that the other Southern League Stadiums that I've been to at this point lacked: charm. I have only been to Chattanooga and Birmingham so I can't say anything about the other parks. The employees were very friendly and did alot of the "dog-and-pony-show" gimmicks that made the fans interested in the game. I got to take my daughter out between innings and run on the field with the rest of the kids so that was neat. But obviously the big issues was that the park was not maintained properly and it looked very run down because of it and I blame that more on the owners than anything. I sure hope that Huntsville is able to keep the team because the fans were very knowledgeable and friendly as well.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE STADIUM:
1. Nice scenic background
2. Great food
3. Very friendly employees
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT THE STADIUM:
1. Horrendous scoreboard
2. Not properly maintained
3. Too many extra seats
On my overall ratings board, I put this ahead of Chattanooga's ballpark and Birmingham's ballpark actually.
My son and I went to Huntsville 2 years ago on the night before the Rickwood Classic. We arrived about 3 hours early (free parking because the parking people weren't there yet) and stood outside the stadium and got 22 batting practice home run balls. I also CAUGHT a foul ball behind the plate. There were maybe 600 people in the whole place. I can see why people can rag on this stadium, but we had a fun time so I guess it holds a soft spot in our hearts.
We must not have gone to the same park. IMHO, the Joe is nowhere close to as nice as AT&T in Chatt or the Hoover Met.
The Joe is basically a K-mart with baselines.
I guess we agree to disagree on this.
AT&T Park to me just had a sterile feel to it. Yes, it had more of a "ballpark" feel to it, but it just seemed like something was missing the entire time and I just wasn't impressed by the park.
The Hoover Met................it was good back 20 years ago, but it just seemed like a ghost town when I went back in 2011, especially when the ballpark was on its final legs.
Joe Davis was nothing spectacular, but you got baseball and I just had a better experience there.