The Charlotte Knights were a franchise long stuck in a subpar stadium in the suburbs -- in South Carolina, no less -- until the amenity-laden beauty that is BB&T Ballpark came into being.
Leaving a venue that bore their name in Fort Mill, SC, for one branded for a bank but actually in Charlotte (and North Carolina, for that matter), the Knights' hit a metaphorical home run with their utopia in Uptown, the part of downtown where BB&T Ballpark's debut ended the team's nearly quarter-century tenure 15½ miles to the southwest, where Knights Stadium stood tall in mostly empty environs.
By contrast, the best thing that BB&T Ballpark can boast of is a big league backdrop, as Charlotte's skyline beckons throughout the confines. Regardless of where you sit, and from pretty much wherever you stand, tall and often shiny buildings are what you see in the not so far distance. And there are plenty of places a fan can sit, stand and stroll, as is the modern ballpark norm, although, as is the nowadays custom too, many are reserved for those who pay a little more for their ticket, a lot more for a suite, or bring along 25+ friends, coworkers, etc.
As such, group and VIP areas abound. So it should be no surprise that the second story of BB&T Ballpark -- at least the large enclosed portion with air-conditioned carpeted hallways -- is for suite holders and "Upper Club Members" only. Even the lower level has a couple of ritzy, you can't go there areas -- the glass-walled home plate club and next to the Knights' dugout (first base side) field level suites.
Stadium seats, all dark green in color, fill the foul pole to foul pole main grandstand, and continue in much lesser row abundance in right field, ending next to a very small patch of grass in right-center field (basically a make sure we have it berm). Worth singling out in left-center are the six rows of bleachers, as the contoured plastic fastened to the aluminum benches and their backs has a grain pattern that mimics that of wood. To maintain color unity, the bleachers' plastic wood is dark green.
The clever design of the added comfort bleacher seating is just one of the extra nice touches this ballpark has. Perhaps best among them is found outside, where along the third base exterior distressed paintings on brick recall the four former ballparks used by Charlotte’s minor league teams.
Summing up Charlotte’s current ballpark in not too many words is not an easy thing to do. Simply put, it has a lot of features inside and out, and too many to list and describe in a designed to be concise format. The irony in that statement is that BB&T Ballpark itself occupies a small area -- the lot size is a mere eight acres -- but its designers managed to pack a lot in them, although they too ran out of space when trying to put everything in place. Hence the bullpens are way too close to the first and third base bags down their respective outfield lines and quarters are tight in right, where it's only a 315-foot pop to hit a home run because a busy city street is about 15 feet away from the outfield fence there.
But all in all, a special place that showcases the city's skyline sums up Charlotte's ballpark succinctly. And I'll also add this: there are a lot of GREAT places to go to watch (or just be at) a minor league game nowadays, and BB&T Ballpark is an impressive addition to that list.