Nobody has really written about the Cookie-Cutter era of minor-league baseball stadiums, but I believe this is an existing period that needs to be discussed. I won’t get too deep here, but the sport in the 1990s and 2000s has some resemblance to the 60s and 70s multi-purpose major league stadium era, where minor-league teams keep building the same ballpark. Yes, they are much better with all the amenities and what not, however many look and feel the same: Brick, with green seats, single-level bowl split by a walkway, open concourse with a view of the field. Yes, its nice, but lately I’ve become sick of seeing the same ballpark over and over (Ripken Stadium being the latest example). That’s why a trip to Erie was so refreshing as the inside is so unique, different and awesome.
I was crunched for time, but was able to maneuver through PA I-80 construction to get to Erie right at 7 PM. While parking, I got to see the major renovations to the city’s hockey arena that really is making the place look brand new. At the ballpark, it is still the same ol’ ugly outside with a playground clubhouse like entrance. Once I got inside, memories came back as to why I love this park. They built it within a tight space and while the third base side has a somewhat classic look (lower seats, walkway and then most of the upper seats), the first base side is quite interesting. About six rows are very close to the field and then directly behind that is a concourse. Perched over the concourse is a true upper deck only about ten rows deep and pretty close to the field. Love those seats (except for the overly loud PA). Some of the more prominent new things I saw at the park were the addition of picnic decks at each end of the seating bowl. The multi-level party deck in the right-field corner really enhances the stadium as it looks good and includes a picnic spot, unique club seats and a beer garden. Also, with the expansion of Tullio Arena, the south end of the arena now acts as the left-field wall. Before there was enough space where fans could walk between the wall and arena. As for the game, it was thankfully fast as I had more driving to do afterwards into Upstate New York. It only lasted about 2:15 and Erie won 4-0. The Seawolves were led by a dominant Matt Crouse who went eight innings and gave up only three hits.