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Schaumburg Boomers baseball report

As I've written about before, I've been "off" baseball (and major spectator sports) for awhile. I'm only coming back slowly to be half-interested again. But we've been considering a family trip to a sporting event for some time. Even if we're still somewhat skeptical about the ability of the children to be well behaved.

This weekend, the Cubs and White Sox played each other so we wanted to avoid that rivalry madness in the city with a sold out crowd. Fortunately, a suburban minor league team was in town so we gave that a try yesterday afternoon. They play in a fairly convenient location just off the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway with free parking...note that there is ongoing construction on the interchange with I-290 (The Eisenhower) so use caution if you're coming from the east. The team plays in a fairly nice little stadium and holds frequent promotions, fireworks, and more. Despite turning in a lousy performance for us, the team has apparently been good the last couple of seasons winning back-to-back Frontier League Championships.

On Family Sundays the Boomers offer a 4-pack of tickets...children older than 2 years need to pay...with seats, hotdogs, and a small drink for everyone for $39. We called ahead to ask about availability but ended up just purchasing at the box office on the day of game. Very short line to buy tickets. Plenty of police on the scene to direct traffic to the parking area and help fans across the pedestrian crosswalk. A bit confusing on where to go from the main plaza, but we made our way up the stairs on the side and found a small table at the top with a worker to tear our tickets.

The crowd was fairly light and subdued, but there were quite a few families with small children. Plenty of space for kids to walk in empty rows, etc.. If you've never been to a minor league baseball game it's about what I experienced growing up in Columbus with the Clippers....Mama says St. Paul Saints games are a bit rowdier. In my opinion, the Boomers strike a nice happy medium between too much nonsense to keep you entertained and not enough so the focus is on a boring game. It helped that the visiting team jumped out to an early lead with several hits so the kids could see how baseball is "supposed" to work. The Boomers managed to scratch a run or two, but the other team overpowered including a grand slam. It was a hot day so we ended up leaving at about the midway point in the game. Though I think we'd have all made it in cooler weather.

A few pieces of advice to fans and management...

--Every seat in the stadium is $10 with a surcharge for both online sales and day-of-game purchase that makes it $11. You can sit on the left or right field hills in the grass for $7, I believe. It's nice to sit close, but I think we actually sat a little too close in the 2nd row behind the screen. The best seats in this stadium are towards the top and away from the screen. But watch out for foul balls in that case, as usual. With plenty of options and a ticket agent who gave us the choice, that was my fault for picking home plate up close. It's almost below field level so it's harder to get the overview of the game. My ideal here would probably be halfway up behind the dugout.

--The "Family Sunday" as advertised included kids activities. And there is a bouncy house area beyond left field though the $5 pass for unlimited visits until the 7th inning is somewhat off-putting. This really should be included in the ticket price. The same goes for the website reference to magicians, face-painting, etc.. Yes, there was a magician. But he was on-camera between innings doing one trick while standing on the dugout. He needs to be roaming around or in a stationary location so fans can come visit all game.

--There are no vendors in the aisles. On one hand, I appreciate it. No blocked views and annoying calls all game. The concession stands are really close and convenient. But I couldn't help but think the kids were missing something there without the ability to buy some popcorn from our seats.

--There is a mascot who made an effort to say hello from the field. It's cute. But I'd love to see more fan interaction in the form of making sure kids get foul balls, t-shirts thrown into the stands, maybe players doing autographs before the game, too.

In short, we had a great time and it was an interesting alternative to the 2 Major League teams we have in the region (3 if you count the ability to easily get to Milwaukee to see the Brewers). It was just enough to give them an appetite (my daughter says she wants to be a pitcher when she grows up now) for the game and a better view for cheap. But, for me, it could improve still if it wanted me to make it a regular family activity. Maybe some ushers to wipe the bird poop off my seat when I went to sit down? I know it's a bit much to expect from a Frontier League game, but consider that we could see a White Sox game for about the same price.