Northeast Delta Dental Stadium

May 25, 2009 Stadium (Capacity: 6,500)
Manchester, NH
New Hampshire Fisher Cats vs Trenton Thunder
Final Score: 0 – 7


* The ballpark was renamed Northeast Delta Dentist Stadium


On our way back from a multi-day trip in Maine, we spent the day in New Hampshire, stopping in Manchester to see the Double-A Fisher Cats. This turned out to be by far my least liked ballpark of the new era. Manchester is the largest city in the Granite State with a population of around 107,000 and it is located in the southern part of the state, along the Merrimack River. The former mill town has evidence of its past history as long, brick red buildings complete a section along the river. Some of these buildings have been renovated for condominiums or businesses and downtown has become more friendly and inviting to visitors. In 2004, New Haven’s Eastern League franchise moved to Manchester and the newly born Fisher Cats won the league title in their inaugural season. That first season was spent at historic Gill Stadium before moving to a new downtown ballpark the following year. A naming rights deal then produced one of the most atrocious ballpark names in the country in 2006. The Fisher Cats are an affiliate of Toronto and the team is popular, but allegiances in this region lie deeply with the Red Sox. To put it bluntly, I did not like this ballpark for a number of reasons.
Prestige Ranking: 2 out of 5


With a name that aimed to make this city the industry giant that the other one across the pond became, this version of Manchester did indeed become a giant, though in Textiles. The former millyards where that took place now include a museum, though it was closed on the day of our visit. A couple blocks up the hill is downtown and the area along Elm Street features a nice array of restaurants. Outside of that, normal city stuff is found and there is a general lack of attractions to draw visitors to the area. The ballpark sits along the banks of the Merrimack River, just a bit south of downtown. Though the river location sounds appealing, you wouldn’t even know a body of water exists nearby as tree overgrowth blocks it as you walk to the ballpark entrance. The more “attractive” part of downtown is too far away and the nearby surroundings are bleh (auto shops, grocery shore, generic office buildings). A hotel is attached to the ballpark, but that disappoints as well (see “Interior”)
Location Ranking: 4.5 out of 10

Accessibility / Parking

I-93 is the direct route from Boston while other highways like Route 3 and Route 101 serve those coming from other areas in New England. Regardless of the chosen route, getting to Granite St / Lake Ave is pretty easy. The hard part is parking as there is no lot, unless you are a season-ticket holder. This would be fine if the Fisher Cats website gave other parking options, instead of just saying that parking is “available” thru the city. I do my homework before a game and even worse was that parking maps were not even on the website for the city of Manchester. Private lots are offered by local businesses, but they go for a ridiculous $10. We started by trying the downtown garage near the arena, but found it closed. Eventually, after driving around for quite a while, we found street parking about three-quarters of a mile away. What a disaster, compounded by traffic after the game. Definitely not a good start to the visit. (Editor’s Note, a lot of these issues have since been resolved and there is now a parking garage by the outfield entrance)
Accessibility / Parking Ranking: 4.5 out of 8


The disappointment continues as the initial walk-up to see an introductory face to the stadium, is missing. There is no front entrance near the seating bowl as this section has limited road access with no parking nearby, so fans arrive from the outfield. I can understand not having an entrance in the front, but the general drab exterior appearance makes it look pretty crappy for those across the river driving northbound on I-293. For fans arriving at the main outfield gate, they are greeted with a small stadium sign on a brick wall housing the ticket office. On each side of the ticket office are stairs leading up to the stadium. Really, not all that much to look at.
Exterior Ranking: 1.5 out of 10


At least the concourse is a decent part of the ballpark. The wide walkway is situated between the foul poles and all of it is open to a view of the field. A really nice spot is near the left corner which has the only good view of the Merrimack River running along the side of the ballpark. The Samuel Adams Bar & Grill into the outfield features an enclosed space with a bar and buffet. With a significant amount of suites over the concourse, much of the space is covered.
Concourse Ranking: 4 out of 5


Concession stands are abundant and the food is decent too. Similar to what I saw a few days earlier in Portland, beer options are endless as there were a ton of choices, including regional microbrews. Seafood from the “Chowdah House” gave the park a New England touch with choices like lobster rolls and clam chowder.
Food Ranking: 6.5 out of 8


The seating chart is not the greatest as one level of seats wrap around from foul pole to foul pole, set on an aluminum base. There is no split walkway and the sections only hold between 12 and 18 rows. As a result, the 6,500-seat stadium is not all that intimate, especially the seats way out in the corners, not angled towards home as they point straight ahead. Suites and the press box are raised above the concourse and seating bowl. In the outfield, there is a newly constructed eye-sore in my opinion. The Hilton Garden Inn hotel looms over the ballfield in left-center and completely obstructs the view of Manchester’s skyline. Generally, I wouldn’t mind the building and may even like it, but when it blocks an otherwise fine view I strongly oppose. Hotel guests get free access to outdoor tables in the outfield as they are able to watch the game. As for the individual seats, they are green and have cupholders. Comfort-level is a bit tight, but not terrible.
Interior Ranking: 5.5 out of 14


The scoreboard in right-center has a green base and three panels, each with a pointy top. Ads take up the side panels, while in the center panel is a video board, along with a clock. The video is decent quality, but surprising was the frequently missing score information. For that, fans had to squint to find a manual box score at the bottom of the left-field corner wall. It’s nice, but not the place to be for those looking to check what the count is.
Scoreboard Ranking: 2 out of 4


An interesting feature at the ballpark is the “Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame”, located in the concourse near home plate. This small room displayed various memorabilia, including many pieces related to Ted Williams. I could not figure out why this was here. Williams had no relationship with New Hampshire or the team and the other assortment of memorabilia didn’t have a continuing theme. As for the Fisher Cats, their displays are included at the stadium as league and division titles were located on the wall of the press box, pennant-style. In addition, logos of each Eastern League team sat above the suites.
Displays Ranking: 3 out of 6


I went over the parking disaster earlier with the costs varying considerably throughout the city. Tickets on the other hand are a modest $8 – $12. Concessions overall were not too bad either.
Cost Ranking: 7 out of 8

Fan Support

This holiday matinee we attended featured a decent amount of families and the place was a little more than half full (I’d say 4,000). Though several dates this year have had over-capacity attendances, I call garbage on that given the announced number for this game nearly doubled those actually in the park. One thing missing from the fans was Fisher Cats apparel as the majority of the crowd was decked out in Red Sox shirts, jerseys and hats. When Portland makes a visit, it’s hard to tell who is the home team with more noise made for the guys in gray.
Fan Support Ranking: 5 out of 8


Fans provided a standard minor-league baseball atmosphere as the game was typical of many other ballparks. Average cheers could be heard from the crowd during plays and there was an overall buzz from general conversation throughout. I was curious what the noise would be when the home team scored, but alas, that never happened in this one. In-game music did diminish the atmosphere as they tried to squeeze in as many sound effects and noise as possible from the PA. Even the eight-second intervals between pitches had to be filled with music.
Atmosphere Ranking: 6.5 out of 14

Other Stuff

Interesting story with the team’s nickname: After management announced “New Hampshire Primaries” as the team’s name, it was met with local dissatisfaction. A name the team contest followed and “Fisher Cats” edged out “Manchester Millers” by a mere 22 votes. The unique mammal can be found in parts of the state……In the back of the concourse behind home plate, is a huge kids play area with a ton of space to let the kids run. A souvenir stand in the concourse sells merchandise, but a larger team store can be found near the outfield main entrance…..As you can infer from the stadium name, the advertising is ridiculously overboard. What pushed me over the edge was seeing a “Delta Dental” ad plastered at the bottom of the team’s logo!…..For the first year of the franchise in New Hampshire, the team played at Gill Stadium, a park built in 1913. The historic stadium has an odd seating configuration thanks to its duel use for football and baseball. This leads to ample foul territory.


Trenton led a systematic throttling of the Fisher Cats. Christian Garcia tossed five shutout innings for the Thunder and only gave up two hits as New Hampshire was shut out at the plate. Trenton scored six times in innings 3, 4 and 5 to take a 6-0 lead and ease home with a 7-0 win.

Stadium Experience Ranking: 52 out of 100

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