The Lake County Fielders' stadium in Zion still isn't complete, but that won't stop the minor league ballclub from playing the first home game of its sophomore season on July 3.
Temporary seating again has been erected at the city-owned park, which is on the northeast corner of Green Bay Road and Route 173. But the setup is different from last season.
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Whereas fans sat in rows upon rows of backless bleachers during the Fielder's inaugural season, this year they'll find numbered stadium seats along the first- and third-base lines, said Kelly Wells, the Fielders' community relations and promotions manager.
"It's what you'd look for at a normal baseball game," she said. "It'll be more comfortable."
The stadium will have bleachers, but only in a general-admission section beyond the right field wall.
Overall, the park will have room for 6,000 fans, Wells said.
Several new amenities should be ready for the July 3 game against the Yuma Scorpions, Wells added.
A beer garden with seating will be behind the home-plate backstop, in a spot that held bleachers and a small area for drinking and eating last year.
"It'll be a bigger space that will allow room for more tables," Wells said.
Additionally, a concourse with food vendors will be located at the top of the temporary seats along the baselines. As a result, fans won't need to go to ground level for food and drinks.
"Without question (it will be) a better fan experience than last year," said Ron Colangelo, Zion's public works and engineering director. "It's going to be fantastic."
Beyond the outfield, a concert stage will double as a party deck during games. Two smaller party decks also will be open for groups, Wells said.
Those three decks will be ready for the first home game, Wells said, and more are likely.
Team officials originally promised fans the stadium would be ready last season, but delays partially blamed on state funding issues arose.
Construction will continue through the season, but work will be put on hold during games, team officials have said. Permanent seating areas should be ready next season.
"It's coming together," Colangelo said.
The Fielders are playing in the independent North American League this season. Last year they went 41-59 in the Northern League.
The team started the year in late May with a long road trip that took them to Hawaii, Arizona, Canada and California. The away time was planned to coincide with construction.
Long-planned permanent seating should be added later in the season, Wells said. However, grassy inclines that have become common at minor league parks won't be ready until next year, she said.
Tickets remain available for the July 3 home opener, which is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. To order tickets, visit fieldersbaseball.com or call (847) 731-8000.