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Dehler Park era begins with more fans, more fun

Mustangs fans began a new era in 2008 as they came out in force to celebrate the opening of a new home for professional baseball in Billings.

Dehler Park was built in the off-season to replace Cobb Field -- which was torn down shortly after the final out of the 2007 Pioneer League season. Although fans might miss the character of old Cobb Field, they certainly embraced Dehler Park and its new fan-friendly amenities.

Despite some unusually bad weather, attendance at Dehler Park in 2008 ended up at 114,714 for the season, an average of 3,019 per game. In the final year at Cobb Field, season attendance was 95,309, or 2,576 per game.

With the arrival of Dehler Park, comes some welcomed changes for Billings baseball fans. The playing field is recessed eight feet below street level. The new concourse completely circles the field -- allowing a view of the action from almost anywhere inside the park.

Fans now have multiple ticketing options: stadium seating, bleachers, grass berm and standing room only. Another popular destination for fans is the "329 Club" on the concourse above the left-field wall that includes buddy bars and a drink rail.

On the concourse level, there are bathrooms, concessions and beer available on each baseline. Additionally, portable carts serve up things like fresh lemonade, funnel cakes, snow cones, iced coffee, ice cream and beer.

Down the first-base concourse, the Mustangs added a bounce house and a speed pitching booth that tells fans how fast they can throw a baseball. On the third-base coucourse, Dehler Park also has the Lead-Off Grill and a Picnic Pavilion that includes tents and tables perfect for pregame barbeques and group outings.

Other major upgrades include a new sound system, a scoreboard that includes a videoboard capable of playing live video and greatly expanded handicapped seating.

And although the venue is completely new, the Mustangs held on to the promotions that Billings fans have come to love over the years -- including the Beer Batter, bobblehead nights, Friends and Family Day and "Kids Run the Bases."

The Mustangs also plan to continue offering programs like the Knothole Gang, kids baseball clinic, the preseason "Meet the Mustangs" banquet and Baseball Buddies.

For a photo gallery of Dehler Park from the 2008 season, click here.