The Corn Crib – by definition in the agriculture world, it is a bin or ventilated building for storing unhusked ears of corn. (There is actually a Corn Crib Restaurant in Christiana, PA., Shelby IA., Middlebury, IN., Corning, KS., just to name a few… my knowledge of this is a credit Google, Twitter searches, and Facebook places!) In the lovely Bloomington-Normal, however, the Corn Crib is home to the Normal CornBelters, a professional baseball team and one of 12 members of the independent Frontier League.
This multi-purpose facility not only houses the CornBelters games, player clubhouses, and front office staff, but it also hosts local college and high school baseball, softball, and soccer games. In fact, beginning this fall through 2015, the Corn Crib will host the IHSA Class 1A Boys Soccer State Finals. Going back to baseball, this beautiful, brand new stadium will also host the 2012 Frontier League All Star Game, which is quite an honor! As a member of the front office staff, I can tell you we are very proud, and excited to host other events at our ballpark – don’t get me wrong, baseball is awesome, but it’s a great feeling knowing that we can bring fun events to fans of other sports, other age groups, and non-sports fans (i.e. when we bring some sweet concerts here this summer!).
So now you’re thinking, ‘Great, it’s called the Corn Crib. People play and watch sports and concerts. Fabulous.’ (insert sarcastic voice here) While this is all true, let me explain how it all ties in and is possibly the most theme-oriented ballpark in all the land. (I say all the land, which is probably an exaggeration, but Ballpark Digest did say, “It is the corniest ballpark in the independent leagues — which is saying a whole lot…. This is perhaps the most integrated deal with a sponsor that we’ve ever seen.” The deal they are referring to is the partnership with Illinois Corn Farmers.)
Let me bring some truth to my claim – we have corn everywhere: players walk through rows of corn in just behind the center field wall when they make their way to the field, pictures of corn and fun facts are on banners that have been wrapped around giant posts along the concourse, corn tassels and silk are pictured in a lot of our signage around the ballpark, our main logo is an ear of corn, team merchandise features images of corn, we sell corn on the cob in the concessions, and our mascot’s name is Corny! Yes, his “dreadlocks” are supposed to be corn tassels too and we call him a “Cornisaurus”. Even our ticket packages have a corn theme: The Husker (24 games); ¼ Ear (12 games); The Kernel (6 games).
You can see that we’ve got the administrative details ”corn-ified”, the stadium “corn-ified”, but what about the players? Lucky for us, some of our players grew up on farms or in farming communities and so they know all about corn! Texan and left-handed pitcher, Donald Furrow, has some first-hand knowledge of corn, which he talked about in a recent article for the Illinois Ag Mag, an agricultural magazine for kids. Furrow explained that “corn is the single most important agricultural product in the world and is in most of the meals you eat. The healthier you eat and the less junk food and sweets that you put into your mouth, the better your body and mind will perform in sports and in the classroom. If you only eat junk, your muscles won’t grow, your bones won’t be strong, your vision won’t be sharp and your brain function won’t be up to speed.”
Needless to say, the Corn Crib is not just a clever name that was chosen because there are lots of corn fields around… no sir, that name just scratches the surface of how “corn-y” this beautiful ballpark really is!
If you haven’t witnessed it already, my hope is that you get a chance to experience the Corn Crib! Even if you wouldn’t enjoy the baseball game, our games are all about entertainment – fans participate in on-field contests between innings, our Fun Crew is always running a promotion for the fans, and various free activities are available throughout the concourse including face painting, bounce houses, Discovery Museum craft tables, and opportunities for kids to run the bases after the games (Tuesdays) and get player autographs (Sundays)! If that still doesn’t spark your interest, I hope you consider checking out a Heartland Community College baseball, softball, or soccer game, the IHSA Boys 1A Soccer State Finals games, or upcoming concerts! (Stay tuned for those details and dates!)