LF: 315' CF: 399' RF: 323'
Bermuda and rye grass mixture
Level: High A
Affiliate: Chicago White Sox
2017 Dash Schedule
|Year ||Total ||Average
|* Attendance figures listed are the regular season totals drawn by the Winston-Salem Dash at BB&T Ballpark
Where the pursuit of baseball never ends.
A visit to Winston-Salem's ballpark will have you hoping for extra innings. Named for the bank based in the city's nearby downtown, BB&T Ballpark reminds me most of the spring training ballparks in Arizona, so the residents of this longtime Carolina League city have something that's worthy of evoking comparisons to the marvelously modern Cactus League ballparks, but completed at about half the cost and with a capacity half their norm as well.
The nearly $50 million BB&T Ballpark has 5,500 seats in two levels plus a steeply sloped outfield lawn that wraps around the left field foul pole. About 1,000 people can sit on the grass that has a steep enough pitch to be a legit lay down lawn, meaning you can fully recline and still see most of the field. Those sitting in the stands can see the Winston-Salem skyline and a whopper of a high-end scoreboard in right-center, where the video content and statistical displays shown are major league caliber in production value and thoroughness.
In general, this is a great standing space place, with openness aplenty on a concourse that remains open to the playing field it encircles and is particularly wide in the outfield, where the main entrance, team store, kids' play area, a large bar and small section of "home run porch" seats are. Those are just some of the highlights stationed around the low-lying field, as BB&T Ballpark sits in a valley of sorts. A hill spanning the length of the outfield starts its rise not too far behind the outfield.
With most people descending from the elevated areas beyond the outfield (that's where all general parking is) to enter the ballpark through its open-ended half, few fans get to see the beauty of the all brick facade that glistens in the evening sun. Also not seen by most is the mural in the large dining room behind home plate in the upper (club) level, where a whole lot of Winston-Salem baseball history is depicted, as it's not a place you can walk up to unless you are in a suite, club seat or part of a party on a deck.
Fortunately, any fan can get a baseball history lesson on the back wall of the concourse beneath the upscale area, as signs there detail the feats of some of the most famous names to play in the Carolina League, which began in 1945.
Winston-Salem has been a member of the league since its founding, the sole city to be able to make that claim, and the franchise has had seven names since then, with Dash debuting in 2009, the year their new ballpark was supposed to open. Construction delays prevented that from happening, so the Dash (the name is derived from the dash in Winston-Salem) spent an extra season, their 54th, at old Ernie Shore Field before playing their 1st at BB&T Ballpark, which may have opened late but, to use a common cliché, was worth the wait.
Certainly not common by any means, BB&T Ballpark in Winston-Salem is the cream of the Class A ball crop that can be summed up in one word: impressive. And because of its impressiveness, nine innings may not be enough to enjoy all of the vantage points and amenities the ballpark has to offer.
BB&T Ballpark is found on the western edge of downtown Winston-Salem alongside a major thoroughfare that's a combination of three highways: US 158 and 421 plus the I-40 Business route. So the road which most arrive at the ballpark by is signed with those three numbers, and either the Peters Creek Pkwy (5A) or Broad St (5B) exits on the trio of roads take you right to the ballpark.
Winston-Salem is actually a combination of two cities -- Winston and Salem -- that merged to become one in 1913. The bank that the ballpark is named after was founded 41 years before Winston and Salem were consolidated and in 1995 BB&T moved their headquarters to Winston-Salem, ending 123 years of being based in Wilson, a city 150 miles to the east. The corporate HQ building for BB&T is just a mile east of BB&T Ballpark and is one of the downtown skyscrapers that's visible from within the city's ballpark.
Next to the ballpark on its third base side is a four-story upscale apartment complex. When it opened in the latter half of 2014 the Link Apartments Brookstown became the first new development in the vicinity of BB&T Ballpark, which was intended to spur such development in what had been a dilapidated neighborhood prior to the ballpark's construction.
The current plan is to add residential, retail and office space, plus two parking decks and other destinations, not too far beyond the ballpark's outfield confines. Until that happens, which is 2018 at the earliest, the nearest restaurants and bars are found on Burke Street within the older-style neighborhood northwest of the ballpark.
Paved parking lots are on two sides of the ballpark. Beyond the outfield is where regular fans park. VIPs park in the narrow lot behind home plate that spans the stadium's first base-side facade. VIP parking is by permit only and is for those with club (suite) level tickets.
The main public parking lots -- they are on two tiers of hilly terrain -- allow for a quick walk to the ticket office and main entrance in right-center field. Some overflow parking is available in the gravel and grass next to the Sunoco gas station that's next to the outfield parking lots entrance, which is off Broad Street. If needed, additional parking is found further north of the ballpark (beyond left field).
By Class A baseball standards paid parking isn't cheap. The rate was $6 in 2015.
|The Winston-Salem skyline can be seen from seats in the grandstand and is pictured above as the backdrop for the multi-level bar that's in left-center field. In right field, the concourse was designed like a bridge since it's high above the low outfield wall that's adjacent to the foul pole. A batting cage and roll-away backstop is in the area below the walkway.
Features & Layout
The ballpark's main entrance is in the outfield, in right-center field, where the plaza in front of the gate has a statue titled "Home Run." Surrounded by brick, some of which have personalized inscriptions, the bronze statue shows three kids looking up, gloves raised above their heads, in anticipation of catching a home run. Sculpted by Tom Ogburn, a local artist and former Wake Forest marketing professor, the approximately 10-foot-tall statue was unveiled on April 1, 2014.
The stadium is actually a three-story strucutre. Its first floor is the Club lobby, the second level has the main concourse and grandstand, and the third story is the private Club level.
All sections in the main grandstand have contemporary stadium-style chairs that are dark green in color with cup holders attached. The same goes for the four seating sections in right field. The grandstand has 15 sections and is unsymmetrical, as it extends further down the left field line than the right field line.
The club level has 16 suites, with 8 found down each baseline. There are two sizes of suites, with their capacities set at 16 and 32. Two other suite locations are creatively placed in the lower level. The press box, which is on the main concourse behind home plate, has a private suite area on its first base side that holds up to 20 people. At field level next to the Dash dugout are two dugout suites that each seat 10.
Covered and catered party decks on each end of the upper level can handle crowds of up to 50 apiece. A much bigger but less private group area is the Picnic Terrace, which is connected to the end of the grandstand on its first base side and has six rows of picnic table seating that can collectively hold 258. If not rented out, any fan can sit at the terrace's numerous square tables.
A steeply-graded berm is in the left field corner and it has room for approximately 1,000 people on its grass, which is on each side of the foul pole. Lawn seating isn't included by the Dash in BB&T Ballpark's official listed capacity of 5,500, as that is based upon the actual number of physical seats within the stands.
Both bullpens are on the field, in foul territory. The benches for players on each team reside against the grandstand, so both are fan accessible. Winston-Salem's bullpen bench is moreso, as there's an open standing room area behind it. That space is in front of the first row of tables in the Picnic Terrace that's down the right field line. The visiting team's bullpen bench is located directly in front of the first row of seats in section 119, which is as far down the left field line as the grandstand goes.
A two-level deck bar is in left-center field, directly behind the outfield wall. Another bar is on the concourse above the "brew pen," although it's much smaller and not open every game. Both bars are open to all ticket holders (that are 21 & up) and have first-come, first-served tables to sit at. Originally, the main bar was where the bullpens were to be placed, one stacked on top of the other. Because the decision to alter that plan came after construction started, the brew pen wasn't open during the ballpark's first season, when the space was empty although the concrete foundation was there. Named for the bullpens that weren't built in its place, the brew pen bar opened in 2011.
Right field features a unique design thanks to a very untall wall and promenade above it, with the combination spanning a decent length on each side of the foul pole. The low outfield fence there is only about three feet tall. "The bridge," as is nicknamed the walkway that's elevated well above the right field wall, has a batting cage beneath it and connects the Home Run Porch to the Picnic Terrace. The Home Run Porch is the name given to the five row seating sections that are above the right-center field wall, which is very tall prior to reaching the bridge.
A large kids' zone is behind the hitter's backdrop canvas in center field. The pay-to-play area has inflatables and a carousel. The merry-go-round was originally installed at Ernie Shore Field and made the move with the team to BB&T Ballpark, although it was refurbished before becoming a part of the 12,000-square-foot gated play area.
Plaque-style signs of famous players in Carolina League history are displayed on the back wall of the portion of the concourse that's between the dugouts. Each sign lists a player's name and number and all but one includes a headshot. The sign missing a picture is for minor league legend Leo Shoals. Nicknamed "Muscle," Shoals hit a league-record 55 home runs in 1949 for the now long-defunct Reidsville Luckies "and was often referred to as the Babe Ruth of the minor leagues during his heyday." Such insight is among the three facts on Shoals' plaque and all others include three bullet points of factual details as well. Among the players you'll find signs for are Johnny Bench, Wade Boggs, Barry Bonds, "Crash" Davis, Dwight Gooden, Chipper Jones, Willie McCovey and Bill Slack, whose #37 is the only jersey number to be retired by the Winston-Salem franchise (Slack won 897 games in 13 years as the team's manager).
A huge video board -- it's 26' x 40' -- is above a traditional line score board in right-center field. The video board is used to show detailed players statistics and up-to-date game information during play, with live video and taped bits often shown on the screen otherwise. The whole scoreboard is framed on its left side by four ad panels and a distance marker hanging from it lists the scoreboard as being 427' from home plate.
The first and third base club level facades have a basic line score board on them so fans sitting or standing in the outfield can keep up with the score, inning, balls, strikes and outs.
Most of the outfield wall on the left field side of the ballpark is covered by a LED board that is mainly used to display ad copy and sponsor logos. The board is 6' high and 185' long.
The control room for all scoreboards in the ballpark is on the concourse behind home plate, where it's within the press box, and fans can easily see into the operations room through its tall windows.
A dining room with an all-you-can-eat upscale buffet is behind home plate on the club level. Spanning the length of its back wall is a mural that shows numerous players and scenes from Winston-Salem's mostly long ago baseball past. The key for the 30 images that make up the mural is near the room's corner bar. The bar and buffet are only available to Founders Club members, who sit in seats or tabletops in the club level.
BB&T Ballpark Facts, Figures & Footnotes
Construction cost: $48.7 million
Financing: Public funds were used for $15.3 million of the cost (31.4%) and $33.4 million was raised privately (68.6%). Public funding sources were: $5.5 million from the city selling Ernie Shore Field to Wake Forest University, $5.5 million from the creation of a synthetic TIF, $2 million from a federal grant, $1.3 million in Millennium Funds dispersed by the non-profit Winston-Salem Alliance for downtown infrastructure needs, and $1 million from a city-issued general obligation bond. The City of Winston-Salem also made a $12.7 million loan to the team's owner, Billy Prim, who was responsible for the ballpark's development, and he secured an additional $15 million bank loan and, along with some private investors, paid $5.7 million upfront.
Architects: Calloway Johnson Moore West (CJMW) of Winston-Salem was the Architect of Record and 360 Architecture of Kansas City, MO served as Associate Architect.
General contractor: Samet Corp. of Greensboro
Groundbreaking date: October 30, 2007
When the plan for a new downtown ballpark in Winston-Salem was announced on December 7, 2006 the goal was to have it ready for the team to use in 2008. However in March of 2007 it was decided that the ballpark would open in 2009. Opening day ended up being delayed until 2010 after construction stopped in November 2008 due to financing problems. Work finally resumed on September 22, 2009.
Owned by the City of Winston-Salem and operated by the Winston-Salem Dash.
Leased to the Winston-Salem Dash for 25 years. The team pays the city $1.8 million in annual rent plus $175,000 a year from a surcharge on tickets. Those terms were part of a revised long-term lease that was approved by the Winston-Salem City Council on April 7, 2014. The rent and ticket surcharge amounts were derived from the debt service Winston-Salem has on the ballpark, which is the result of loans the city made to the team, and the $1.8 million for rent will increase gradually over the lease's duration.
Naming rights: BB&T Corporation, a regional banking institution based in Winston-Salem, pays an undisclosed amount. The name BB&T Ballpark was announced on February 23, 2010. The length of the sponsorship agreement is 15 years, which means the BB&T name will be on the ballpark through the 2024 season. BB&T is short for Branch Banking and Trust Company.
The ballpark by itself takes up 8.5 acres of the 17.1-acre site on which it was built. A historical marker in front of the ballpark on Peters Creek Parkway refers to the site as the city's former "African-American West End Area" and notes that the once-thriving neighborhood had declined "in the latter years of the 20th century." To make way for baseball on the former neighborhood's grounds, 42 buildings had to be demolished.
Was initially projected to cost $22.6 million to build. The final price tag of $48.7 million was more than double that, but did include $8 million in land acquisition costs.
Is one of two minor league ballparks in the state of North Carolina to be named BB&T Ballpark. The other is in Charlotte and it opened in 2014.
Was named the 2010 "Ballpark of the Year" by Joe Mock of Baseballparks.com. The annual industry prestigious award goes to the year's best new or substantially rebuilt ballpark. The competition that BB&T Ballpark beat out in 2010 was Target Field in Minnesota, the new minor league ballparks in Eugene and Tulsa, and the renovated park in Harrisburg.
4Topps, a premium seat manufacturer based in Winston-Salem, was the brainchild of BB&T Ballpark's project director, Joe Bellissimo, who personally designed the semi-circular tables with swivel stadium-style chairs that are found in the prime seating areas of the club level. Each half table at BB&T Ballpark has four swiveling seats, hence the company's name. 4Topps was officially founded in 2011 and has since supplied its unique seats to numerous minor and major league ballparks, although venues at all levels generally order many less 4Topps than the 70 tables that BB&T Ballpark opened with.
Has been the primary home field for Winston-Salem State University since the school reinstated their baseball program. The NCAA Division II Rams, a member of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, played at BB&T Ballpark for the first time on February 15, 2011, when WSSU lost both games of a doubleheader to Saint Augustine's University. Prior to 2011, Winston-Salem State had not fielded a baseball team since 1973.
Is 3.7 miles south of the still standing ballpark where minor league baseball was played in Winston-Salem from 1956 through 2009. Called Ernie Shore Field then, it's now called Wake Forest Baseball Park, as the nearby ACC school moved their baseball program to the off (but near) campus ballpark in 2009. Also called Gene Hooks Field, it's next to the Wake Forest football stadium and across the street from the Demon Deacons' basketball arena.
BB&T Ballpark Firsts
First game: April 13, 2010; the Potomac Nationals beat the Winston-Salem Dash, 5-4 in 12 innings, with 7,111 as the announced attendance. Because the game went extra innings, it lasted a lengthy 3 hours and 46 minutes.
Kenny Williams, then the general manager of the Chicago White Sox, threw the ceremonial first pitch to his son, Kenny Williams, Jr., who was the left fielder for the Dash on the ballpark's opening night (he went 0-for-5 at the plate).
The Chicago White Sox became the first major league team to play at BB&T Ballpark, doing so on March 30, 2011 in an end of spring training exhibition against Winston-Salem. The Dash won the game, 3-0, and it was attended by 6,597 fans.
Official ballpark firsts (all of which occurred on 4/13/10, unless noted):
|Pitch ||Batter ||Hit (single) ||Home Run (4/14) ||Winning Pitcher ||Losing Pitcher ||Save
|Stephen Sauer ||Steve Lombardozzi ||Michael Burgess ||Tim Pahuta ||Cole Kimball ||Charlis Burdie ||Clayton Dill