Dehler Park, Where the Billings Mustangs Buck the Trend
July 10, 2021
After the stunning, picturesque drive from Boise over the Tetons into hip-chic Jackson Hole, WY and then into the jaw-dropping magnificence of Yellowstone Park, with post card images of gushing rivers, majestic mountains, geysers, waterfalls, bison and elk herds at every turn, the vast Big Sky Country of Montana unfolds
After the stunning, picturesque drive from Boise over the Tetons into hip-chic Jackson Hole, WY and then into the jaw-dropping magnificence of Yellowstone Park, with post card images of gushing rivers, majestic mountains, geysers, waterfalls, bison and elk herds at every turn, the vast Big Sky Country of Montana unfolds to Billings, home of the Mustangs and their lovely stable, Dehler Park.
Opened in 2008, Dehler Park replaced Cobb Field, a storied Billings civic fixture from the 1930s, on about the same site. Interestingly, Cobb Field was named for Bob Cobb, a Billings native and later the owner of Hollywood’s storied Brown Derby restaurant and, of note, the inventor of the Cobb Salad, who brought minor league baseball to Billings in 1948. Cobb’s investors in the Montana team, so remote from the glitz of Tinseltown, were Bing Crosby, Barbara Stanwick, Cecil B. DeMille and Robert Taylor.
Though today Dehler Park may no longer reflect the star-power of Cobb’s movie world luminary partners, on its own merit Dehler is an all-star ballpark worthy of inclusion on a Yellowstone/Jackson Hole itinerary.
Eschewing the commonly applied brick “retro” façade treatment for perfectly offsetting beige tone blocks, Dehler impresses immediately with an understated entry plaza accented with three dominant shade panels above the main gate. Once in the ballpark fans enter to a broad concourse that frames the sunken diamond and encircles the entire ballpark allowing fans a 360 degree walk-about offering views of all angles of the charming ballyard.
However, the true star of the Dehler Park show is the stunning view of the magnificent sandstone plateau beyond the outfield fence dominating the ballpark’s experience, known as the “Rimrocks” or “Rims”, formed over 80 million years ago. Perched atop the plateau is the Billings Airport, providing a steady stream of planes coming and going a la Shea Stadium. Visually, Dehler Park provides all the “eye-candy” a minor league ballpark experience can offer.
By design, GM Gary Roller ascribes to the “no frills” approach to ballpark operations. His focus is on providing fans with a clean and safe facility with a friendly, well-trained staff and an emphasis on having the game dominate attention rather than an assault on the senses with loud and annoying distractions from blaring sounds and constant activity. His dedication to the traditional ballpark experience is commendable and differentiated from trendiness.
There are two main concession stands on each side of the field, offering a basic menu selection and a few portables offering espresso-style coffee selections, cheesesteaks and shaved ice. The big winner, however, is the third-base side ice cream stand featuring waffle cones.
The joy of a Mustangs game at Dehler Park isn’t derived from ancillary distractions beyond the game (although they recently brought in the amazing Zooperstars characters to the delight of all), but rather the chance to take a few hours and sit back, enjoy the stunning view beyond the outfield fence, and reflect on the beauty of a baseball game played in the comfort of a modern, well-designed and fan-friendly ballpark.
If, indeed, there is present at Dehler Park the ghost of old Bob Cobb, it’s certain he’d be proud of what became of his dream to bring minor league baseball to his hometown of Billings. It’s baseball like it used to be in a ballpark like it ought to be.