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| July 01, 2004

Unless you’ve been living in a nest up a pole you probably know that Missoula has a new baseball stadium. Play Ball Park opened Friday night for the Missoula Osprey’s first home game of the season with all 1,900 of the currently-installed seats filled, and another 626 fans occupying the hotdog lines, bleachers and picnic tables on the upper deck.

Due to budget constraints, seating and parking facilities fell short of demand, and all but the earliest attendees found the temporary lots and bike racks full. But even so, fan excitement was palpable. (Overheard at the hotdog stand: “What team are we again?”) For die-hard fans who own all the Osprey players’ trading cards (current season not available until August), the stadium is an overdue tribute to the home team. For people like Matt Kubiak, who grew up with bigger teams, the games are something less. “I’m a big Cubs fan,” said Kubiak. “But I got to settle for what I can get out here.”

And then there are those who don’t give a raptor’s ass about baseball, for whom the stadium is a novel place to socialize. There are few other public venues where you can get a beer and a brat, or a macchiato and a massage, or eat shaved ice while having your fastball clocked and watching a frozen T-shirt race.

For Osprey General Manager Matt Ellis the event was huge success. “With the amount of effort and work that had to happen to get this thing done, it’s rewarding to see everybody having a good time. That’s really the whole measuring stick.”

In the end, enthusiasm and $3 Bud Lights were unable to carry the day for the Osprey, who lost to the Helena Brewers 6 to 2.

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Lest any media outlet let a news cycle pass without reporting on our country’s diet obsession, the Indy wanted to share this new low: Krispy Kreme is going to make low-carb donuts. As the low-carb craze reaches fever pitch, Missoula vendors are experimenting with selling low-carb items, too.

A few weeks ago, Liquid Planet stocked its first shipment of low-carb wines: One.9 (merlot) and One.6 (chardonnay). The names correlate to the number of carbs per five-ounce serving, and according to beverage bar worker Duncan McMullin, customers like the idea. “The Atkins craze is off the hook right now,” he says, adding that sales of coffee drinks made with half-and-half or heavy cream are booming.

At Bagels on Broadway, the low-carb bagel appeared for a test-run two weeks ago, but likely won’t be back again. The mix “is tremendously expensive,” says owner Sue Thompson, who makes the rest of her bagels from scratch. “It has soy flour and wheat gluten in it, and the low-carb diet craze has driven the price [of those ingredients] up.” The low-carb bagels cost consumers $1.50 per bagel—too high for what is normally a 75-cent item, especially when customers “thought they tasted like the cardboard box that the mix came in,” says Thompson.

Low-carb beer seems to fare a little better in Missoula’s taste-test department; Worden’s Market has been selling low-carb brews for about a year. Low-carb Coke and Pepsi have recently arrived at Worden’s as well.

But that doesn’t mean we’ve all let this low-carb mania go to our guts. At Kettlehouse Brewery, retail manager Al Pils calls low-carb beer “ridiculous.” Asked if Kettlehouse might ever consider its own low-carb brew, he says, “Not if we don’t want to have to hide our heads in the sand for the rest of our beer-making careers.” Cheers, Al.

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