Wade Stadium     Duluth, MN
Dimensions:  LF:  340   CF:  380   RF:  340    Capacity:    4,200 Opened: 1941

Stadium Minor League History:        "original"  Northern League         1946-1955
                                                                "new"  Northern  League              1993-present

Current Status:  Home of the Duluth-Superior Dukes of the Northern League (Independent)
 

What's Good:  Like ballparks in Clinton, Johnstown, and Evansville, Wade Stadium appears to have changed little physically since its construction decades ago, resulting in a visually exciting structure that does not merely evoke history but rather is steeped in it.  Originally built as a WPA project in 1941, the stadium consists mostly of a grandstand stretching from first to third and covered by a large, sturdy roof that is supported by stout girders and a latticework of trusses.  Extending from the each side of the grandstand is an enormous wall, which like the exterior of the park is comprised of old bricks that were removed from the streets of downtown Duluth during a repaving project.  These walls continue in a straight line until they meet up with the outfield wall, which is considerably shorter and made of concrete.  Since the brick walls parallel the foul lines there is quite a bit of room between them and the field, which the team has put to good use on the third base side by installing a beer garden and picnic area, while the corresponding area on the first base side is a wide-open place for kids to run around, try their hand at the speed pitch booth, snag a foul ball, or just engage in a game of catch.  The entire grandstand has only bench seating, though the first several rows (the ostensible "box" seats) do have backs.  The place looks like it hasn't changed much at all since it first opened its doors, and with just a little imagination fans can visualize what it was like to see baseball in bygone days.  Despite the stadium's age and relatively cramped spaces, concession lines moved quickly during my visit, and prices on the typical ballpark fare were reasonable.  A small souvenir store had a decent array of Dukes gear and trinkets, and the restrooms looked like they'd been considerably revamped sinced the ballpark's early days.  Lastly, parking is free, the staff is friendly, and there are no ushers checking tickets or chasing people around the park.  All in all, "the Wade" is a laid-back place to watch a game in an enjoyable and authenticly historic environment.
 

What's Not So Good:  As great as this place is and as much as I liked it, there are still two glaring design flaws worth mentioning.  First, the entire grandstand is protected -- not merely by netting, but by a relatively thick wire mesh.  This, though ensuring the relative safety of fans not inclined to actually pay attention to the game, is an impediment to those who want to watch the action on the field, as are the chain-link fences in front of the bleacher sections.  Secondly, though a colorful concourse of moderate size runs under the stands, the only means of moving about within the grandstand itself is a very narrow cross-aisle which is unfortunately located in front of the first row of seats.  This means that a steady stream of foot traffic passes in front of the "box" seat holders (especially on busy nights), rendering them less than ideal places to watch the game.
 

This Photo:    August 11, 2000     Duluth-Superior Dukes vs. Madison Black Wolf
 

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