Over the last several years I have been fortunate enough to see a game in each ballpark for the 2013 version of the Double-A Eastern League. Hopefully the makeup of the league stays like this for awhile as immediately threatening is the potential of an Ottawa franchise (and that would be a difficult trip for me to make from here in New Jersey). Of course things are different now than when the first parks were seen several years ago, but I thought it would be fun to break down the league’s stadiums. Using my Ranking System, let’s start by just straight up listing the ranking of each team and then break down the two best and worst in each category. At the end will be the “Prestige” category, which will basically be my personal favorites and non-favorites. Let’s get into it!
Overall Ballpark Rankings
- Altoona Curve Peoples Natural Gas Field (2008) 78.0
- Reading Phillies FirstEnergy Stadium (2010) 73.5
- Akron Aeros Canal Park (2011) 72.0
- Harrisburg Senators Metro Bank Park (2013) 71.5
- Portland Sea Dogs Hadlock Field (2009) 71.0
- Erie Seawolves Jerry Uht Park (2013) 70.0
- Trenton Thunder Arm & Hammer Park (2007) 69.0
- New Britain Rock Cats New Britain Stadium (2013) 64.0
- Richmond Flying Squirrels The Diamond (2010) 59.5
- New Hampshire Fisher Cats Northeast Delta Dentist Stadium (2009) 51.0
- Bowie Bay Sox Prince George’s Stadium (2010) 48.5
- Binghamton Mets NYSEG Stadium (2007) 45.5
………1. Harrisburg – On an island full of family activities. Just across a historic pedestrian bridge is a downtown with the State Capitol and a Restaurant Row
………2. Erie – A downtown spot with restaurants nearby. The lakefront is not too far away.
………11. Reading – There’s not much to see around the stadium on Route 61, just a bit north of the city
………12. Richmond – While the city itself has a decent amount of activities, the Boulevard only has great highway access going for its location
Accessibility and Parking
………1. Richmond – See above. Parking is also abundant surrounding the stadium.
………2. Altoona – Hardly any traffic and right off of I-99. Very convenient parking garage in left field.
………11. Reading – Old stadium lends to heavy traffic and a hodgepodge of parking directed poorly. Took us 30 minutes to get out after a Fourth of July contest.
………12. New Hampshire – An unnecessary nightmare for a sport that usually features easy access. Parking is limited in the city and ridiculously overpriced.
………1. Trenton – Very solid opening brick facade that has a bit of a train station resemblance.
………2. Altoona – Another decent brick exterior, however many fans miss it by entering through the outfield gate. Needs the stadium name out front to enhance it.
………11. Richmond – Classic drab 80s architecture with the concrete. Looks like a spin top or a huge spaceship.
………12. New Hampshire – A familiar name at the bottom of the list. Not only is there only an outfield entrance, but it is ugly as well.
………1. Altoona – Rare double-decker that is wonderfully decorated with team logos and railroad motifs.
………2. Harrisburg – This was part of the renovation that essentially made a new stadium. A 360 degree wrap-around includes cool bar-style seating in the outfield.
………11. Richmond – Though there are two levels, both are enclosed and feature some long lines for food. It took me 15 minutes before the game just to get a burger.
………12. Binghamton – This may be the darkest concession area as it is drab and hidden underneath the seating bowl.
………1. Bowie – This was the only good thing about the stadium. Surprisingly decent variety and an excellent Chicken Sandwich Platter with coleslaw and beans.
………2. Akron – Wing Warehouse in right-field is the place for a pre-game dinner, while the rest of Canal Park’s concession options are good too. Try the Ice Cream Floats.
………11. Erie – It’s not that the food is bad or lacking, just that there is nothing that really stands out. The sausage stand is a little better than average.
………12. Binghamton – Yes, NYSEG Stadium has Spiedie‘s (Binghamton’s food specialty), but I have had it twice and both times, it sucked.
………1. Erie – My favorite in all of the minor-league parks I have seen. Remarkably unique seating arrangement due to the tight city block. First-base upper seats are the best
………2. Altoona – While the Roller Coaster beyond right-field rightfully gets all of the attention, the rest of the stadium is excellent. Love the rock formation spelling “Curve”
………11. Bowie – Two other teams tied for this spot, but when pressed hard I would have to say Bowie. Did not enjoy the gently sloped sections and many bleacher seats.
………12. New Hampshire – Not a fan of single-level seating that features a small amount of rows all the way to the foul pole. Also stupid placement of hotel ruins view of city.
………1. Harrisburg – One of the newest is expectedly the best. Very clear wide screen and the whole thing is not all that cluttered with ads.
………2. Altoona – Similar set-up to Harrisburg with the large screen and box score. Just has a few more ads and is slightly off-center.
………11. Portland – The “Maine Monster” board is nice and all, but you would think that maybe it is time to remove the old, unused scoreboard instead of masking it with ads.
………12. Bowie – Simple with an old-school design in left-center and a dated video screen in right-center.
………1. Portland – I like the little Sea Dog message board outside the park and then thru the concourse are several displays. Great job too by honoring players/teams inside.
………2. Reading – Lots of history with Reading and the tight concourse displays it well with a memorabilia case and other various touches. Just put up pennants on the inside!
………11. Richmond – This may not be the fault of The Diamond as the team rightfully seems to be distancing themselves from the Braves years in the IL.
………12. Bowie – A pathetic display of how not to decorate your ballpark. Only a statue on the outside saved them from a zero ranking.
………1. Akron – Great all around with tickets under $10. Free parking in all the downtown lots after 6 PM and on weekends is a bonus.
………2. Altoona – Very reasonable and our 2008 visit included a ticket for just $7 in the upper-level. Cheap parking and free programs.
………12. New Britain – Eastern League costs are generally similar, but by a slight margin this was the worst of the bunch due to high parking rates and tickets being a tad pricey.
………1. Reading – Perennial attendance leaders that do a good job of filling the stadium. Both times I’ve been there, the place was packed.
………2. Richmond – I think the loss of baseball for a season made Richmond realize what they had. Crowds have been pretty good for the Squirrels.
………11. Bowie – The game I attended on a pleasant summer Tuesday night featured about 500 people. Pathetic.
………12. Binghamton – There just doesn’t seem to be all that much interest and it shows in the stands. Most rumored team for a move…I think they may be better suited for NYPL
………1. Reading – Having a nearby parent team (Philadelphia) helps and these fans are very supportive of both. Good baseball crowd that made for a festive atmosphere.
………2. Portland – Similar passion thanks to the Red Sox, the fans in Portland brought great energy and paid close attention to every play on the field.
………11. Binghamton – See above. Small crowds and a general blah atmosphere. At least the setting is nice and peaceful, especially with the rolling hills in the background.
………12. Bowie – Hard to get any type of atmosphere going with so few people in the stand…I’d like to give them another shot
………1. Erie – My personal favorite re-affirmed with a visit ten years later. Unique ballpark really made me want to come back.
………2. Reading – History, old-school stadium with modern touches, great fans. This is a place baseball fans need to visit.
………11. New Hampshire – One of the very few times I just did not enjoy myself at the ballpark, which was a combination of many factors. This place should be so much better
………12. Bowie – Do you see how many times (five) they made the list as the “worst” in a category?