It is rare for Minor League Baseball teams to sell out their home games. It is even more rare for teams to consistently sell out games. However, the Dayton Dragons have sold out every home game since moving to Fifth Third Field in 2000. So any baseball fan traveling through the Midwest should make a stop and become part of a sellout streak that spans over 1,000 games.
Arriving at the ballpark
With its downtown location there are several parking lots near Fifth Third Field. Some lots are free, but according to the team’s website most parking spots are about $5. Metered street parking is free after 6 p.m. during the week and always free on the weekends. The Dragons offer a VIP parking garage pass for the CareSource building at the intersection of East Monument Avenue and Harries Street. However, the pass must be purchased in advance.
Entering the ballpark
There are multiple entrances to Fifth Third Field, but the primary entrance is at Don Crawford Plaza. The plaza sits at the intersection of North Patterson Boulevard and East Monument Avenue.
Additional entrances are in right field and along the first base line. However, the only place fans can purchase tickets is at the main ticket office, which is located by Don Crawford Plaza.
Exploring the ballpark
Fifth Third Field features a wrap-around concourse, so it is easy for fans to explore the entire park. However, fans entering at home plate from the Don Crawford Plaza are greeted by two statues of the team’s mascots.
There is a kids’ play area in center field behind the batter’s eye, which features a face painting artist along with the typical games like fastest pitch.
The outfield offers a fantastic view of a revitalized downtown Dayton.
Eating at the ballpark
There are a lot of options when eating at a Dayton Dragons game. Most concession stands offer the typical ballpark fare. However, there are more than enough options for fans who want something a bit different.
Dragons Fire Grill on the first base line allows fans to customize their sandwich by picking the meat (grilled chicken or a half-pound burger), the bun (kaiser or pretzel roll), the “style” (mushroom and Swiss, backyard, the Heater, ultimate cheese-burger, or buffalo), and the toppings (lettuce, tomato, onion, or pickle spear). Although the option to customize a burger was tempting, I opted to eat something else.
At a concession stand on the first base line, I found a bevy of unique hot dogs. The stand offered a Cincinnati coney dog, a chili cheese dog, a gyro dog, a dragon dog, a BBQ dog, and a mac-n-chz dog. Although the mac-n-chz dog came highly recommended, I opted for the dragon dog because I couldn’t resist a dog that shared the team’s moniker. The dragon dog is a hot dog topped with pickled jalapeños, French fry crisps, and doused with sriracha sauce. For a team named the “Dragons,” the dragon dog was a spicy treat.
Drinking at the ballpark
The craft beer scene in Dayton has grown dramatically since Toxic Brew Co. opened in 2013. Unfortunately, I did not find any craft beers brewed in Dayton available in the ballpark. However, there is one spot in the ballpark that primarily serves craft beer.
The Samuel Adams Pub is on the first base line not far from Dragons Fire Grill. The mix of beers on draft was interesting, as four of the ten were macro-owned craft beers (two from Goose Island with one each from Kona and Devil’s Backbone). Three beers were from Samuel Adams along with its hard cider, Angry Orchard. The lone, independent craft beers on tap were from Mother Stewart’s Brewing (from nearby Springfield) and Taft’s Brewing (from Cincinnati). If you are not a beer drinker, do not fret. The Samuel Adams Pub is a full-service bar that also offers wine and liquor.
Watching the ballgame
Dayton Dragons right-handed pitcher Jared Solomon delivers the first pitch to Fort Wayne TinCaps second baseman Tucupita Marcano.
You can’t watch a baseball game without watching the first pitch. Construction of a building beyond the outfield makes the view a tad unpleasing, but overall the ballpark has a beautiful backdrop for watching a ballgame. Although the view from behind home plate is enjoyable, I opted to explore a bit and got a few shots of the game’s starting pitchers.
As I walked around the concourse, I saw the Dragons’ mascots dancing on top a dugout during a between-inning promotion.
As I wanted a photo of me with either of the mascots, I waited around for them to finish dancing to get a picture with them.
Although I was unable to get a photo with both mascots, I was happy to get a picture with one of them. Mascots are a staple of Minor League games, but it’s always interesting to see new promotions. The Dragons put a new twist on a classic when they rolled out the Retirement Village People.
The group of senior citizens first danced to “Macho Man,” and later led the ballpark in a rousing rendition of “Y.M.C.A.”
Something that was not part of the in-game promotions was a benches clearing shouting match between the two teams.
Although no punches were thrown and no players were ejected, Fort Wayne manager Anthony Contreras was visibly upset with how the umpires handled the situation and was ultimately ejected.
Recapping the fan experience
There are multiple reasons why the Dayton Dragons have sold out every home game they have ever played. For me, there are a handful of reasons that stand out. First and foremost, Fifth Third Field is a beautiful ballpark in a revitalized area of downtown Dayton. Secondly, whether fans are driving to the stadium or walking from a nearby hotel it is easy to access. Third, there are several unique food and beverage options available at the ballpark. Fourth, the on-field promotions strike a balanced mix between familiar games and new twists on old favorites. Adding all of these elements together leads to a great time at a stunning ballpark, which is one reason fans love attending Minor League Baseball games.
Final: Fort Wayne 2, Dayton 3