With dozens of themed nights, special giveaways, new food/drink choices and a variety of entertainment options, families who attend a West Michigan Whitecaps game get so much more than a baseball game.

The Whitecaps have been a West Michigan summer tradition since 1994, when they first took up residence in what was then known as Old Kent Park in Comstock Park. Since then, they’ve switched their major league affiliation (from the Oakland Athletics to the Detroit Tigers), won six championship titles and even garnered national attention for their food menu.

After sitting out the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, the Whitecaps and their minor league peers are back to compete in 2021. To welcome their return, we’re taking a look at what’s new for this season – with a nod to some of the most popular features of the past.

Family members of all ages are sure to be entertained at a West Michigan Whitecaps game no matter how close, or how far, your seats may be.

Family members of all ages are sure to be entertained at a West Michigan Whitecaps game no matter how close, or how far, your seats may be.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

New Designation

In late 2020, the Detroit Tigers announced they were promoting the Whitecaps to Advanced A status after 24 seasons as a Low A affiliate. That should raise the caliber of play on the field even further, as nearly all the top-tier player prospects for the Tigers will now filter through West Michigan.

New Park Name

LMCU Ballpark is the new name for the Whitecaps’ home stadium, because Lake Michigan Credit Union has picked up the naming rights from Fifth Third Bank.

Same Affordable Family Fun

At $10 per person for lawn seating, it’s hard to find more bang for your buck in terms of family fun. If you prefer traditional seating, you can spring for reserved seats ($14.50 each).

Giveaways

The Whitecaps have a long history of giving back to fans with fun giveaways on select days each season. Past freebies have included replica championship rings, replica jerseys, Detroit Tiger bobbleheads and more, all awarded for being one of the first fans through the gate. This season’s giveaways range from hats (Opening Day – May 11) and snowflake wands (Princess Weekend - May 28 &29) to a Bobblehead of former Detroit Tigers star Eugenio Suarez (June 9) and a Tigers Grilling Apron (June 23 & August 17).

The Food

After its gut-busting Fifth Third Burger was featured on ESPN’s “SportCenter,” NBC’s “Today Show” and many other media outlets in 2009, the Whitecaps have continued to raise the bar on creative, outrageous and delicious menu items – many of them selected by fan vote.

The Fifth Third Burger was retired in 2018, replaced by a succession of new fan favorites, such as the Rocky Balburrito (cheesesteak rolled into a burrito with cheese, onions and green peppers, and then deep-fried) and Mt. Wing Suvius (a mixture of mac 'n cheese, beer cheese and buffalo chicken filling the center of a tower of onion rings).

The Whitecaps will be serving your favorite food and drink in line with enhanced COVID protocols this season. That includes requiring social distancing at concession stands and permitting eating and drinking only when you are in your seat.  

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From the time the gates open until after the game, there’s entertainment for families.

FANomenal Fridays

Fridays have always been full of family fun at the ballpark, and this season is no exception. Expect a variety of theme nights, a kids’ happy hour, mascot autograph sessions and more. Check out the Whitecaps’ Promotion Page for this season’s exciting schedule of “extras” – FAN-omenal Fridays, Saturday Fireworks, Dog Days, pre-game entertainment, discount admission events and more.

Thirsty Thursdays

Thursdays are especially awesome because Pepsi products, hot dogs and domestic beers are just $2.00 each! Thursdays are also College Night – you get a reserved seat for just $5 (usually $14.50) with a college or military ID.

West Michigan Whitecaps - Field View

Game On! Reserved seats available for $14.50 each at LMCU Ballpark.

Photo by West Michigan Whitecaps.

Beer City Bung Hammers

The Whitecaps are changing their name to the Beer City Bung Hammers for one night only – August 7 – in honor of Grand Rapids (a.k.a. Beer City USA). They’re teaming with Founders Brewing Company to offer beer, bungs and bung hammer-themed games all night long.

Las Calaveras de West Michigan

The Whitecaps are transforming into Las Calaveras de West Michigan on three nights – June 26, July 24 and August 22 – to celebrate Hispanic/Latino culture and the influence it has had on America’s pastime. There will be fun giveaways, food, uniforms and more.

Watching in Luxury

Hate long lines? In addition to lawn and reserved seating, fans can purchase Safeco 4Topps premium seating for games, which reserves a table for four and includes wait service, so you don’t have to join the queue for food and drinks. The tables run for $130 and sell out quickly, so grab one now if you’re interested.

Visit the West Michigan Whitecaps’ website to purchase tickets and stay abreast of new developments. That’s especially important this year, as the state of Michigan works toward expanding capacity limits and loosening other health & safety protocols in the wake of increased vaccinations.

This year’s baseball season might look and feel a little different, but it will still be one of the best family fun opportunities in West Michigan. Get back in the swing of this fantastic summer tradition!

This story was originally written by Kirstein Morello and has been updated by the Experience Grand Rapids team.