By Zach Spedden
A new ballpark will open to considerable anticipation next month, as the Chicago Dogs (independent; American Association) are preparing for their debut at Impact Field.
Beginning this season, the Dogs will give the American Association a presence in the Chicago area, courtesy of their new ballpark in suburban Rosemont. While the team is set to debut on the road on May 18, the opening of Impact Field on May 25 should prompt plenty of attention.
As noted by our own Kevin Reichard in a preview last November, Impact Field will offer amenities that reflect the modern fan experience. Using a design that resembles CHS Field--home to an American Association rival, the St. Paul Saints--Impact Field will feature several distinct seating areas, placing a particular emphasis on group areas. That includes a screened-in left-field corner space at field level, which can seat 60 and offers access to the ballpark's batting cages. Aside from its group areas, Impact Field will offer plenty of amenities, including 6,300 seats and a 360-degree concourse.
Perhaps more significantly, Impact Field will put the Dogs at the center of one of professional baseball's biggest ballpark stories of the year. This season is a slow one when it comes to new ballparks, as Impact Field joins SRP Park--the new home of the Augusta GreenJackets (Low A; Sally League) that debuted last week--as one of only two new pro ballparks to open in 2018.
That said, Impact Field would likely still attract plenty of attention in a busy year for new ballpark openings. The design gives it plenty of features found in today's ballparks, and the location is one that should stand out. Interstate 294 runs right past the left-field concourse, and Impact Field's site positions it near some key landmarks, including O'Hare International Airport, The Ballpark at Rosemont--home to softball's Chicago Bandits (National Pro Fastpitch)--and Allstate Arena. It is also centered in an entertainment and sports district that features a slate of restaurants and venues, as well as the Fashion Outlets of Chicago.
For right now, the Dogs are gearing up for their opener at Impact Field. The team will begin the American Association season with a road trip that includes stops in Sioux Falls and St. Paul. That means the team will have six games under its belt before May 25, when Impact Field will open with a matchup between the Dogs and the visiting Kansas City T-Bones.
When it does happen, the opening of Impact Field will mark the arrival of a new pro sports venue in the Chicago area. While facilities for several major sports teams--including two Major League Baseball ballparks in Guaranteed Rate Field and Wrigley Field--make the area competitive, Impact Field and the Dogs should be able to stand out amidst a busy sports landscape.