I have seen the West Virginia Power play the Lexington Legends and the Lake County Captains at their home parks several times. This was my first trip to the area and I was very excited about catching a game at Appalachian Power Park.
I guess I should start out by saying that my game was rained out. I did not get to see a game here.
I was still able to get a great look at the park. I have travelled around to a lot of baseball locations and facilities, and I must say, the guys running the Power's home operation get an A+. I can think of a couple of parks where the staff seemed annoyed that someone actually wanted to spend some money in their gift shop. They had no clue about baseball, their particular team, etc.
The staff at Appalachian Power Park seemed to take a lot of pride in their facility. They seemed happy to let me come in and check things out.
The gift shop was small and crammed, but well stocked. I was very impressed to see signed game used caps (I would love to see more teams selling signed game used gear). They had a fun selection of shirts and other items including some retro style stuff from the older Charleston team. The guy running the store seemed very knowledgeable about the team, the park, etc. We talked about the recent draft, and the South Atlantic League in general.
The staff was very kind about letting me walk around the park and take pictures. I truly felt like I had the place to myself, and the other staff did not seem to mind my being there. I pretty much walked all around.
This might be one of the most unique parks I have come across. In fact, it is very hard to describe. It just went up in 05, but it has the feel of a park much older. Not that it looks worn out, but it seems more mature. It kind of feels a little outdated in a charming way.
Hypothetically, lets say I had no knowledge of this park before coming to it. Lets say someone showed it to me, and asked me to guess its origins. I would guess that some thoughtful baseball purists had a hand in it, several decades ago. I would assume no modern company could have thought this up. I would probably also wrongly guess that the downtown area was build around the park. The park just feels natural here, and it feels like it has been woven into the downtown area for a lot longer than it really has.
It is open and accessible. There would be plenty of places outside the fence of the park to look in on a game. All of the seating is close, and near the field.
Some of the park is built in to buildings that already were up in this downtown area. It sort of reminds me of the Louisville AAA park in that way. I think this really adds to a park, and the area near it.
There were a lot of banners up showing former players from the area who have made it. I really like this feature at a minor league park. I know Pawtucket and Indianapolis do this a lot, and it looks cool.
The park is really cool, but the only draw back is there is not a lot of stuff going on in Charleston. It is a nice town, but.... They do have a great 3 story mall. There is a movie theater close too. Free parking seemed scarce, with pay to park garage space around the mall. I do think charging to to park while you shop at a mall is bold.
We even picked up a pamphlet about things to do in Charleston. Most suggestions required a 30 minute or so drive out of town. Huntington is close. I do want to check out Pt. Pleasant and the Moth Man museum sometime. Marshall University is around here. But there just isn't a lot really going on in this area. I will take a book on my next trip here.
Speaking of books, this park is bursting with character. Even at its young age, a lot of love has gone in to it. I would really enjoy a book about this park. It is young, but a book is justified even at this point.
Let me make it clear though, I will make another trip here. The ball park alone has a cool feel, and I was there without a game going on! I can only image how fun it must be with a game!