Play Ball! Where to Take Your Family Out to the Ballgame Near Champaign-Urbana
For those who enjoy spending an afternoon (or evening) at the ballpark, this time of the year is special. But there’s more to baseball than just the major league variety.
Going to Chicago or St. Louis to see some major league baseball can be a major league pain-in-the-tush — not to mention a major league drain on your bank account — especially when hauling the smaller people with you.
But don’t fret, there are plenty of options to take your family, friends and neighbors out to a ballgame. We’re here to give you the lowdown on where to take your family to see some quality baseball action that’s within a reasonable driving distance from Champaign-Urbana — and won’t break the bank, either.
All baseball/softball games listed below are outdoors. Stadium capacity limits keep changing and so do rules on safety protocols including masking, so check with the ballpark when in doubt.
Buying tickets seems to be a bit more complex this year — our advice: do it in advance when possible.
Unfortunately in Spring 2021 we weren’t able to watch Illini baseball or softball in person. Hopefully those options will be back in 2022, with completely free admission and lots of fun promotions. It’s a must for your spring bucket list.
There are still options for getting back to the ballpark — so, enjoy!
(From nearer to farther):
Why You Should Go: Visiting historic Danville Stadium (scenes from the movie The Babe were filmed there) is reason enough to go see the Dans, a team made up of collegiate players wanting experience playing with wooden bats and to get in front of scouts. The stadium is undergoing a bit of a facelift, expected to be completed in time for the stadium’s 75th anniversary celebration on July 24.
Deals to Be Had: Can’t beat the ticket prices, traditionally in the range of $6 for adults and $3 for school-aged kids; 5 and under are always free. Tuesday nights are $2 tickets. Free parking. Concessions are easy on the wallet, too.
Distance from C-U: About 40 minutes. Games start at 6:30 p.m., making it an easy weeknight outing — even from Champaign-Urbana. Check the website as the season nears (it begins May 29).
Why You Should Go: The Corn Crib used to be home to a minor league team, but this summer, they will host a team that plays in the same collegiate wooden bat league as the Danville Dans, the Prospect League.
Deals to Be Had: Individual game tickets start at $8 per person. (Warning: the ticketing system is a bit confusing.)
Special Promotions: There is an extensive list of promotions, including Negro League Tribute night, Star Wars Night, and Monster’s Inc night, complete with a showing of the movie after the game. Fireworks are scheduled on Opening Night (May 27), Born in the USA Night (July 3), and Superhero Night (July 31).
Distance from C-U: About an hour.
Why You Should Go: The closest minor league team to C-U that is affiliated with Major League Baseball. If you or the favorite baseball aficionado in your life is a Cardinals fan, this trip is a must. Located in downtown Peoria, there’s more to do if you want to make a weekend or a trip out of it.
Deals to Be Had: Individual game tickets generally range from $14-$16. On Wednesdays, get $1 hot dogs all night long. Thursday is “Thirsty Thursday” night which offers deals on beer.
Special Promotions: On most Saturday night games, there are fireworks, including July 3 and July 4. There’s a fanny pack giveaway on Father’s Day, and we can’t stop giggling. Sunday, August 29 is Bark in the Park Day.
Distance from C-U: About 90 minutes. Get directions here.
Why You Should Go: We love the Indians games! Victory Field, the Indians stadium, is beautiful and lively. There is never a dull moment, with plenty of activities for kids all around the building (some may be limited due to current conditions). Also, it’s high quality – the Indians are a Triple-A team (the highest level of minor league baseball), affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates. This is a very family-friendly ballpark – ALL restrooms have changing areas, and they also have a room for nursing moms.
Deals to Be Had: Individual game tickets range from $12 to $18 per seat a game. Children 2 years old and younger receive free admission into Victory Field. Sundays, all children ages 14 and under will eat free; each child receives a voucher for one hot dog, one drink and one bag of chips. On Tuesdays, bring your appetite as hot dogs, peanuts, potato chips, Cracker Jack and popcorn are all available for just $1 each.
Promotions and Special Events: Fireworks are on Fridays, and on the Fourth of July. Prefer day baseball in the middle of the week? Matinees are on Wednesdays. On Father’s Day, have a catch on the field. There are also several Marvel Superhero Nights.
Distance from C-U: About two hours. Get directions here.
Why You Should Go: This is an independent league baseball team, playing in the Frontier League, the largest and longest running independent professional baseball league – an official “partner league” of Major League Baseball. Games start on May 28.
Deals to Be Had: Tickets start at $7, and go up. Save money on tickets by buying at least a day in advance.
Promotions and Special Events: Fireworks on Fridays are generally themed – including Hamilton, princess and superheroes. You can buy special packages for fireworks games.
Distance from C-U: About two hours north.
Chicago Bandits Professional Softball
Due to Covid, the Olympics, and other issues, the Bandits will not take the field in Rosemont this summer.