OVERVIEW: For all the talk we had about Sioux City and the X’s being a proximal staple in Lincoln’s schedule, one shouldn’t forget about Sioux Falls, SD – only a hop and a skip further than its nearby twin.
Sioux Falls has been a mainstay in independent baseball from the ol’ Northern League’s inception, and Sioux Falls Stadium continues to offer one of the most intimate settings still left in minor-league baseball each summer.
Whether they’ve been the Canaries, Pheasants, or (once again) the Canaries, the ‘Dogs have always had Sioux Falls lurking just beyond their backyard, but for the first time since the 2010 American Association season, the two are division rivals.
It was just about time for two of the league’s founding members to reunite again.
THE STADIUM: Some of you have probably seen Sioux Falls Stadium, and there’s a decent chance the first question you asked yourself was how it was even a baseball stadium to begin with.
Now with Sioux Falls’s massive new toy – the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center – looming over the much smaller Birdcage, Sioux Falls Stadium doesn’t quite pop out like it used to.
Most of the seating within the joint is bunched up down the first-base and right-field line and there aren’t many places to hang out down the third-base and left-field line. The dimensions might the friendliest to pull-happy hitters in the league (just 313 down the LF line and 312 down the RF line), and when you’re up close in Sioux Falls, you almost feel like you’re watching the game from the playing surface.
The stadium is also one of the oldest in the league, opening in 1941 before it underwent major renovations in 2000, and the make-up of the fence that twists and contorts around the outfield grass is a nod to the earlier days of minor league baseball.
Really, with the way the stadium was constructed but also carefully built and expanded around, taking in a Canaries game almost feels like stepping into a time machine to enjoy how the game used to be played.
For a club that’s been around as long as any in independent baseball, the Canaries provide an experience that feels very close to the roots of both minor league baseball and Sioux Falls as a whole.
Sadly, there just aren’t many stadiums like it still around.
THE CITY: With a deceptive amount of terrain, Sioux Falls got its name from – you guessed it – the collection of waterfalls within the Big Sioux River throughout the city.
Those all by themselves are worth seeing and appreciating, but Sioux Falls also has so much more to offer than just the river.
Falls Park is perhaps the most recognizable attraction in Sioux Falls, but there are plenty of ways to explore the greenery of South Dakota on a summer afternoon. The Sioux Falls Bike Trail can be a great way to get both active and around, but there’s also the unique SculptureWalk – a self-guided tour throughout downtown to appreciate the numerous statues and sculptures of Sioux Falls.
The Eastbank Art Gallery offers another way to see some of the local artwork in and around Sioux Falls, while the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natrual History along with the Butterfly House and Aquarium can settle the appetite of animal and wildlife lovers.
With various restaurants and bars to visit, you obviously can’t go wrong with Sioux Falls’s downtown square, and the Old Courthouse Museum isn’t too far away, either.
‘DOGS ALL-TIME RECORD IN SIOUX FALLS: Neck-and-neck. While the ‘Dogs haven’t played the Birds quite as often as the X’s, they’ve still played 105 games at the Birdcage in their 18-year history. The all-time tally is 52-53, with a chance to snag the advantage this year.
WHEN THE ‘DOGS ROLL THROUGH SIOUX FALLS: June 14-16; July 27-29; Tickets cost anywhere between $9 and $17, depending on when you buy them. (Hint: Purchase prior to game day.)