|Former names||RailCats Stadium (2001-2002)|
|Location||One Stadium Plaza|
Gary, Indiana 46402
|Broke ground||June 22, 2001|
|Opened||August 9, 2002|
|Operator||Gary SouthShore RailCats|
|Construction cost||$45 million|
|Field dimensions||Left - 320'|
Left-center - 380'
Center - 400'
Right-center - 390'Right - 335'
Chicago Columbia Giants (NAL)(2003-present(Weekend Games)
U.S. Steel Yard is an open-air baseball stadium located in Gary, Indiana. It is home to the Gary SouthShore RailCats, a professional baseball team and member of the Northern League. It currently holds 6,000 people. It also hosts many Little League Baseball games as well as high school baseball games. The ballpark is notable for holding a memorial service for the late pop musician and Gary native Michael Jackson on July 10, 2009, in which over 6,000 fans, with much of Jackson's family in attendance. The ballpark has had over 1,000,000 fans in attendance during the RailCats team history.
In February 2001, the Northern League's Board of Directors approved a request by company Northwest Sports Ventures to start an expansion baseball team in Gary, Indiana. The team was scheduled to start play in the 2002 Northern League season. Later that year, a liability company named Victory Sports Group took the task to build a ballpark in downtown Gary. Then, in July 2001, the City of Gary and Victory agree on a 15-year lease that would facilitate the building of a state-of-the-art ballpark with construction scheduled to be completed in May 2002; the groundbreaking ceremony was held at this time. In September 2001, the ownership names this baseball team the Gary SouthShore RailCats, with their stadium to be called RailCats Stadium.
Then, in October 2001, the City of Gary and the construction and architectural companies involved in the building of the new ballpark announced that it would not be completed in time for the 2002 Northern League season. As a result, all the RailCats' games in their inaugural 2002 season would be played on the road. During the 2002 season, the RailCats would travel more than 12,000 miles and spend more than 800 hours on the road in buses. RailCats Stadium was completed in August 2002, with a dedication ceremony and open house being held on August 8. The first baseball games to be played in this stadium were part of a Little League Baseball tournament held the following week. The stadium would also host various Gospel and Blues events throughout the next few months.
Then, in May 2003, the RailCats' ownership and U.S. Steel sign a 10-year naming rights agreement, effectively renaming the ballpark U.S. Steel Yard. On May 26, 2003, the RailCats played their inaugural home opener in the new ballpark with a sellout crowd of, with 7,089 people in attendance; the first pitch was thrown at 3:28 pm Eastern Standard Time. The RailCats lost to the visiting Schaumburg Flyers 8–4 in 11 innings. The next day, on May 27, the first home run was hit in U.S. Steel Yard by outfielder Billy Brown. The RailCats would record their first win in the new ballpark, defeating the Flyers 5–4. After drawing 26,648 fans in August 2003, the RailCats would compile a 2002 regular season attendance of 140,310 over 44 home games – an average of 3,189 fans per game.
In the 2004 Northern League season, the RailCats brought in a regular season attendance of 147,801 over 46 home games with an average of 3,213 fans per game. On twelve separate occasions attendance was over 4,000 fans, which included two sellout crowds. The RailCats finished the 2004 season with a record of 31–65. In the 2005 Northern League season, U.S. Steel Yard hosted the league's annual all-star game on July 19, in which U.S. Steel sponsored. The Northern League's North Division defeated the South Division 5–1, in front of a crowd of 6,825 – the second largest attendance U.S. Steel Yard's history. The 2005 season also saw the RailCats' first playoff berth, in which they would eventually lose in the Northern League Championship Series to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.
In the 2009 Northern League baseball season, the RailCats drew 185,747 fans to U.S. Steel Yard – an increase of 6,748 fans from the 2008 Northern League baseball season. In September 2009, the one millionth fan walked into the U.S. Steel Yard.On July 10, 2009, a memorial service was held at U.S. Steel Yard for deceased pop musician and Gary native Michael Jackson. Over 6,000 fans attended the service, which also served as a musical tribute to the pop star, as local musicians played a few of Jackson's songs. At the service, Gary mayor Rudy Clay unveiled a seven-foot, four-inch granite plaque of Jackson. Originally, Clay talked to the Jackson family about having Michael's body be on display in Gary for the service, saying that the service would be "fit for the prince of peace and a memorial that's fit for Gary, Indiana's favorite son, the greatest entertainer that ever lived". This was discussed as part of a plan to have Jackson buried in Gary. About twenty of Jackson's cousins were in attendance at the service, along with Michael's father Joe Jackson – who showed up two hours into the service – and Rev. Jesse Jackson.