A Resurgence In Sussex

A Father’s Day gift brought me back to the stadium that is the closest to my house (35 minutes) as the entire family joined on a great night for baseball. This would be my two-year old’s first ever game and she enjoyed climbing in and out of the seat after getting past the awe of a setting that was all so new to her. It was a wide range of the spectrum during firework time as she somehow fell asleep while my six-year old sat frightened by the loud noises. I know what we’re not doing this 4th of July.

It’s been 13 years since I’ve been to Skylands Stadium, a place that I thought was left for dead after the Skyhawks folded in 2010. However, the Miners debuted in 2015 and the ballpark has been busy once again as they’ve been successful in the Can-Am League (now absorbed into the Frontier League). Owners of the park have also got good use out of it as they run popular holiday events and festivals. The area really is a strange one to have a ballpark as Sussex County is not anchored by any city. This northwest corner of New Jersey is quite rural as woods, hills and occasional farmland dot the landscape. After passing through Newton, a town of less than 10,000, the stadium just pops up amongst an array of fields. The ballpark has a nice exterior design that makes it fit in with the surroundings as it clearly has the look of a barn structure. They also added a huge sculpture of the world that is actually a fire pit and it makes for a remarkable exit to the stadium as it is lit post-game. Inside, seats are blue, so you really have a contrast of colors between the red structure, blue seats and yellow/black team logo. Addressing that would go a long way. Those seats are bucket seats, not the most comfortable, but better than bleachers. It is a nice setting as sightlines to the field are pretty good and the outfield background is lined by trees.

The game-day experience was overall good, but there were some odd, negative aspects from the team and it starts with limited information on the website compared to other franchises. Seats were quite dirty (even with one of them having a bit of mold), but perhaps the strangest was that there were no signs for prices of the kids’ activities in the play area. There’s a mining station (great idea), bounce house and train ride. We thought the train was free and we just hopped on, then the worker at the end said $2 each. Huh? Ok….Lastly, the concessions were not great as options were basic and food generally bland. This also was not comforting. On the positive end, the all-star on this night was Herbie the Miner. This bearded mascot is in an outfit that looks incredibly sweaty and he/she worked the park all night, doing a strut down the aisle and interacting with both young and old. That person earned their wage and then some on this humid night and whoever you are should know what an awesome job you did. Also, I LOVE the nickname “Miners”, in an era where ridiculous nicknames are all the rage, it is so refreshing to see a brand that is simple that still works quite well. The home squad won this game 10-5 over the Rockland Boulders with three of the Miners going yard. They improved to 17-9 on the year.

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