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07/05/11Provided by Citysearch
I try to go to 2 or 3 Sounds games a year and generally the experience can be described as just ""okay."" I have been to 8 or 9 minor league ballparks and even after the ""renovations"" Greer Stadium is easily the worst, even including some AA parks I have been to, and definitely much worse than Hawkins Field (Vandy). Still, it's baseball and is relatively cheap entertainment for the family and it is a decent place for kids to have birthday parties and whatnot.
HOWEVER, going on the 4th of July to see the fireworks is pretty much guaranteed to be a debacle. While the traffic getting to the stadium is always horrible (for some reason the Sounds do not enlist Metro PD to help do traffic control when people are pulling in - ALWAYS plan to get there about 45 minutes ahead of time and wait in a long line), on July 4th it is HORRIBLE. I got off the interstate at Wedgewood at around 6:15pm like normal and I did not get to my seat until 8pm (bottom of the 3rd). When I finally got up to where the parking was, they told me the parking was sold out - and it wasn't even a capacity crowd! I always hear the Sounds owners going on sports talk radio and complaining that more people don't come to the games; however, it's a good thing they don't because if more people came to the games they couldn't accomodate them with basic services! I had to park way down past Gabby's and walk after all that wait.
Then when I got to the game, the staffing problems were even worse. Even thought he 4th of July crowd every year is the biggest one they have, they didn't have any more concession stand help than they would have for an ordinary Monday game. I got up after the end of the 4th inning to get a couple hot dogs because I was starving and by the time I got back to my seat the 7th inning stretch was going on. That's right, it took me over an HOUR to get a couple hot dogs and a bottled water. I saw ONE VENDOR trying to sell stuff actually in the seats through the entire game, and he was selling nothing but beer, so there was no way to get any sort of food other than to wait in the ridiculous line.
Essentially, due to the Sounds' management's failure to plan for the size crowd they KNOW they are going to get every year on July 4th, I got to watch 4 innings of baseball. At least the fireworks were decent. Then of course, getting out of the park and back to the Interstate took almost another hour because both main routes of egress (Wedgewood or 8th to Demonbreun) were crammed (due to the Sounds or people trying to leave the fireworks show downtown).
The 4th of July fireworks show is a big attraction for the Sounds and it was very disappointing to see them drop the ball like this. I am sure a lot of people come every year for the first time on the 4th thinking that it is a good way to see fireworks and beat the downtown crowd and will walk away determined never to come to another Sounds game again.
The truth is that the Sounds are a pretty good value at other times (mainly because the ballpark almost never draws to even half capacity and the staff seems equipped to handle that). But avoid them like the plague on July 4th! I hope that if people ever do start coming to Sounds games in greater numbers, or if the downtown ballpark ever happens, that the Sounds management can get their ship together and make it a better experience.
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