Posted: June 2, 2010
Illinois’ corn farmers helped build a Field of Dreams in the Normal-Bloomington area.
Tuesday night was the inaugural home game for the Normal CornBelters, a new professional team for the region, playing at the all new Corn Crib ballpark, thanks in part to a multi-year partnership with the Illinois Corn Marketing Board (ICMB).
ICMB Chairman Jim Rapp of Princeton threw out one of the ceremonial opening pitches at the inaugural game. “This is a neat venue for the community of Bloomington-Normal, right here in the middle of the Corn Belt, great to have the CornBelters playing for us,” said Jim.
The corn growers got interested in the ballpark and team when a contest to name the team resulted in the winning “CornBelters.” Illinois Corn Executive Director Rod Weinzierl says it was a natural sponsorship opportunity and they came up with the name Corn Crib as kind of a play on words. “For us older folks, we all know what the corn crib is on the farm, but for the younger generation, crib means home. So, we thought it was a pretty neat name and it really points out the communications bridge that we’re trying to build with the general public and with the next generation about what corn is about and what farming is about.”
Listen to my interview with Rod here:
The entire ball park has a corn theme, from the Kernel Kitchen and Corn Crib Cafe, to Corny the Mascot, to the corn planted under the scoreboard. Additional agricultural sponsors for the park include Pioneer, Syngenta, the Illinois beef and pork producers and Prairie Farms from the dairy side. Pioneer provided the corn for the landscaping and it’s already making good progress.
Nearly 6,000 fans attended the opening home game against the Windy City Thunderbolts, and even though the Cornbelters lost 3-2, it was a good game and everyone had a great time. See more photos from the event, thanks to coverage by Agwired, in the photo album below.