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Honoring Newark’s Past

Posted by Sean Rowland on May 22, 2010

I’ve been living in New Jersey for more than four years now and despite being an hour away, have yet to venture into Newark, the largest city in the state. Yes, the city still has some issues, but it’s a shame their old reputation is so hard to shed. A lot of revitalization has been done and Mayor Cory Booker has really helped to clean up the area.  It is certainly much better than it was in the past. My first venture there had me on the Northern edge of downtown and it seemed like a totally fine, safe area. This winter, I’ll get further into the downtown core to see the Devils and the Prudential Center.

Anyway, the purpose of the visit was to see #83 on the list, Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium and the Atlantic League’s Newark Bears. I always wondered what the “Bears & Eagles” meant and learned that it honors the old International League Bears team and the Negro League’s Newark Eagles. This is a place that really is in touch with it’s history as the honors don’t stop there. A “Ring of Honor” on the brick surface of the press box/suite level displays names of the past who have ties to Newark or old teams. There are other honors too, scattered throughout the park. Additionally, Newark’s cap logo (kind of like a Nebraska Football N) brings you back to the 1930s. Riverfront Stadium also does a fantastic job of architecturally mimicking Newark. The ballpark is built with brick and it doesn’t seem like that fresh brick either, the inside has almost an older looking darker-colored brick. Fitting, for Brick City.

The seating set-up is good, helped by the fact that there are uninterrupted views of the field from the concourse and that there is just one consistent level of seats surrounding the field. However, there just were things that didn’t appeal to me, not sure why. Other Atlantic League parks (Long Island and Somerset) had a more appealing interior to me. Maybe, it’s because the inside was very similar to Manchester, which I disliked. The placement of the scoreboard is awful, next to the foul pole because it’s a chore if your behind home or on the right side of the park to see the box score and count. Plus the views, though diverse, have so much untapped potential. The Passaic River just beyond outfield is hardly visible, same with the close NYC skyline. Newark’s downtown buildings are in sight, but only if your on the third base side. Additionally, there is a drawbridge in left, but it just looks like an ugly industrial eyesore.

Most disappointing of all was the fans, or lack there of. Attendance was 1,408, but I did a rough count and came up with about 450. You can’t use the excuse that people from surrounding towns are scared to come to Newark. Remember, Newark is a city of 280,000!!! It’s a shame that at least a couple thousand from a city that large won’t come out to watch quality baseball. Needless to say, the atmosphere was dismal.

So, that wraps up a ballpark mixed with good and bad features. As always, for a detailed  review, click the link to the right. The next stadium will be down in the Richmond area as we take a little Memorial Day trip to Southern Virginia.

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