There are a lot of award-winning baseball stadiums across the United States. One of these ballparks is Victory Field, which has been home to the Indianapolis Indians since 1996. Although the ballpark may be considered “old,” it still offers fans a great setting on the western edge of downtown Indianapolis to watch a baseball game.
Arriving at the ballpark
Victory Field has several parking garages and a few surface lots nearby. Options closest to the ballpark tend to be more expensive. The team’s website provides details on some of the closest parking options. The stadium is close to several downtown hotels with many options only a ten-minute walk from the ballpark. Visitors can also utilize the city’s Indiana Pacers Bikeshare, which has 48 stations and almost 300 bikes available for use throughout downtown.
Entering the ballpark
The two primary entrances to Victory Field are in center field and behind home plate. People walking to the stadium from other parts of downtown are most likely to enter at the center field gate.
Fortunately for fans there are two places you can purchase tickets at the ballpark. There is a ticket office in centerfield to the left of the gate, and another office by home plate. So no matter whether people drive or walk to the stadium, they can purchase tickets at a convenient location.
Exploring the ballpark
Victory Field features a wrap-around concourse. Two interesting sights are behind home plate. The game’s starting lineups and International League standings are on message board signs. Nearby are four glass display cases showing the most recent high school state baseball champions.
Fans walking around the grandstand concourse cannot escape the team’s history. There are multiple signs hanging from the rafters displaying notable former Indianapolis Indians. Some of these players are current stars in the Majors, some are legendary players, and some are Hall of Famers.
The kids’ play area is in center field in the PNC Plaza, where fans can see a bevy of other sights.
In addition to the kids’ area in PNC Plaza, there are multiple Toyota automobiles wrapped in team colors and logos.
The view of the grandstand from the outfield is rather plain, although the stadium is in excellent condition.
However, fans seeking a compelling view from the ballpark should enjoy the view beyond the first base line.
Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, is half a mile away from Victory Field. However, the most compelling structure is the Perry K. Generating Station, which is one of the oldest operating power plants in the country.
Eating at the ballpark
Victory Field has plenty of food options for fans. There are several concession stands and portable stands throughout the concourse.
Fans looking for traditional ballpark fare should seek out the Victory Field Classic Eats stands, which serve hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, and other items. Fans seeking local food should find Arni’s, which is located behind home plate. Arni’s is a pizza chain that started in nearby Lafayette in 1965, and now has almost twenty locations throughout the state.
My quest to find something unique or local to Indiana left me stumped. A few employees suggested the pork tenderloin sandwich, as the classic Indiana meal. However, most people told me that there wasn’t a quintessential item at the park. After considering my options, I passed on the pork tenderloin sandwich.
I ordered a classic cheeseburger with a side of tater tots from Indy Burger Kitchen, which is near home plate. A sign next to the Indy Burger Kitchen stand tells fans they want the burger to be the star, so it is served without any condiments or lettuce, tomato, or onion. I was a bit skeptical, but the burger was delicious! It really did not need anything else.
As much as I enjoyed the burger, I have learned that I really should have eaten a pork tenderloin sandwich. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the Indiana Foodways Alliance sponsors a “Tenderloin Lovers” Trail. The trail includes over seventy restaurants throughout the state that are known for serving pork tenderloin sandwiches. The Indians also have a complete “A to Z” guide on their website, which lists every type of food and beverage available throughout the park and the location where fans can find these items.
Drinking at the ballpark
The Coors Light Cove in left field in the place for fans seeking alcoholic beverages at Victory Field.
The large bar offers craft beer from Bell’s Brewery in addition to locally-brewed Sun King products. The cove is a full-service bar, so fans can also order mixed drinks and wine.
Craft beer drinkers who want something local should seek out Sun King beers. They’re available throughout the ballpark, but the most unique beer is the Indians Lager. The beer is a Vienna-style lager that is brewed exclusively for the Indians.
Indians Lager is available at The Coors Light Cove, Loop & Kernel (near Section 111), and the Sun King cart (near Section 120). It is malty and smooth with a slightly bready, sweet finish.
Watching the ballgame
Victory Field’s location on the western side of downtown Indianapolis provides the ballpark with a beautiful backdrop. The surrounding hotels dominate the background. The coolest sight from the ballpark is the dome of the Indiana State Capitol, which is visible in straight away center field.
Besides capturing the first pitch, I also got a few photos of game action. In particular I was excited to see two of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ top-30 prospects playing: pitcher Luis Escobar (ranked No. 7) and third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes (ranked No. 2).
Although I did not get any photos of the top-rated Toronto Blue Jays prospects playing for the Buffalo Bisons, I did get a few action shots of their players.
It was especially interesting getting to watch Buffalo shortstop Richard Urena because I saw him two years ago when I attended a New Hampshire Fisher Cats game (read more here).
Recapping the fan experience
Attending a game at Victory Field is a win for any baseball fan. The stadium is easily accessible from several downtown hotels and has ample parking options for fans who drive to the park. Despite its age, the ballpark looks as new as the day it opened in 1996. There are plenty of food choices for fans. However, the Indianapolis Indians should highlight the pork tenderloin sandwich. It may be an “ordinary” food item to locals, but visitors should try out this uniquely Indianan food. The craft beer choices were good, but considering the growth of craft breweries in the state there could be more locally-brewed options for fans.
The shortcomings are minor in the overall scope of enjoying a game at Victory Field. The Indianapolis Indians cover all the bases with solid food and beer choices. There are numerous activities for kids away from the field. The on-field promotions are well-done. The stadium is beautiful. All of these elements add up to a great time at the ballpark for any fan, young or old.
Final: Buffalo 2, Indianapolis 0