Dunkin’ Park

May 5, 2023
Dunkin’ Park (Capacity: 6,121)
Hartford, CT
Hartford Yard Goats vs Reading Fightin’ Phils
Final Score: 2 – 12


Hartford is home to 120,000 and it is located in the center of state, along the Connecticut River. Perhaps best known as the Insurance Capitol of the World, the city’s economic prowess is countered by a high poverty rate. Hartford is also the State Capitol. For a long time, professional baseball was played in the county, specifically in nearby New Britain. They had a franchise in the Double-A Eastern League and despite playing in a perfectly adequate 20-year old stadium, over $50 million was spent on a new ballpark to bring the team from the suburbs to the city. Construction delays and developer/city fighting led to a delayed opening as the moved team debuted in 2016, but did not play a home game until 2017. They became known as the Hartford Yard Goats, a stretch to tie in some local railroad verbiage. As an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, the team has yet to make a playoff appearance in six seasons of play. Dunkin’ Park is a far more popular place than New Britain was and this ballpark features a ton of variety as to where to watch the game.
Prestige Ranking: 3.5 out of 5


Hartford has a few things worth checking out like the Mark Twain House and the elaborate State Capitol building. Downtown has its spots too, mainly centered around the XL Center. However, where the ballpark is located (Downtown North or DoNo) feels another world away from the heart of the city despite just being 10 minutes by foot. South of I-84 are skyscrapers, restaurants and entertainment. To the North of that dividing road, the area around the ballpark is quite bleh. That is expected to change as the ballpark was planned with other development. It’s been long delayed, but some of that is going up as more mixed-use stuff arrives. Since much of this looks to be housing, I don’t see it turning into an area that ballpark-goers will want to get here early to.
Location Ranking: 6.5 out of 10

Accessibility / Parking

All roads in Connecticut seemingly lead to Hartford and the junction of two major interstates (I-84 and I-91) is right near the ballpark. That means a lot of entrance roads and on/off ramps, but things are well-signed coming into the area. Leaving DoNo is another story as there is short notice to turn lanes and interstate access, which generally will be from Market Street. The parking situation is rather crappy as the main lot near the entrance fills up an hour before the game. I got here early enough to get in and was blown away at the poor quality: potholes, very tight lanes with little room to back out and mish-mash of directions to drive down. Other parking areas are a 5-10 minute walk (uphill for some) and those can fill up too where you’ll have to venture downtown to find a lot or garage. Traffic in the area can be hit or miss at times and the game I attended was a tough gauge to figure out the post-game situation since it was a blowout with staggered departures. I’d still expect minor delays.
Accessibility / Parking Ranking: 4.5 out of 8


So far, I was underwhelmed and the outside of the ballpark didn’t help. It felt like a haphazard compilation of red brick and protective panels as the rather short building lined Main Street. Even though there are not many surroundings to match, it certainly didn’t fit the city as I got the sense that designers just left it as an afterthought (“eh, brick will do”). The main entrance is a tight corner cut-out with a “Dunkin’ Park” sign rising above the gates.
Exterior Ranking: 2.5 out of 10


The opening entrance is an unusual introduction as you arrive in the right-field corner. This space is framed by a decorative wall and the ballpark structure ahead. It’s tight as everyone files in, while the covered concourse ahead is average in space for a Double-A ballpark. The lack of an open area to congregate means that several portions of the concourse will get crowded. Lines can get long for food, so there will be times you need to cut through to make space. The concourse is open to the field as handicap / standing sections start close enough to the bowl for it not to be an intrusion. I really like the color scheme as blue/green signage goes well with gray floors and ceilings. Another cool touch are the windows to the production area, allowing fans to get a peek at how the behind-the-scenes video works. A ramp and walkway go around the outfield to provide access to the many seating sections out here, while the final walkway underneath the right-field upper deck provides a neat perspective that feels old school. Don’t miss “The Goat Pen” near this area as the baby goats are huge hit (especially with the kids).
Concourse Ranking: 3.5 out of 5


Dunkin’ Park has varied items as each concession stand features something a little different. The Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls got my attention, as did Spicy Pickle Fries. How about an Ice Cream Float….sign me up! Deep Fried Not PB&J….hmmm? Nice job making a selection tough no matter where you looked. Portable carts included a focus on a food item including Burgers, Sausages and Tex-Mex. Even cooler is that one cart per game showcases a Hartford-based restaurant. That might be your food choice right there, but a perfectly acceptable alternative is Bear’s BBQ in the outfield. I actually went to their restaurant before the game and the KC-Style BBQ was delicious. They bring a lot of the items here to the ballpark and the meat is in the form of Pulled Pork or Brisket. Four local beers were also available in this area and I appreciate the descriptions they had for each one, helping with making your choice. Near the seating bowl, the Alvarium Beer Hive is another great place to try as they have some really good options.
Food Ranking: 7 out of 8


Despite seemingly open surroundings, Dunkin’ Park was fit into a parcel of land that gives the stadium a bandbox feel. The enclosed, rectangular park is short on open space and long on varied seating areas. The bowl starts in traditional minor league fashion with one level that goes around the infield. It’s not that big as the maximum amount of rows is 14. Seats are wide and comfortable with rows having enough space in between each one. The pitch is ok overall. Sections go about halfway into the outfield on the right side, where they turn one of the end sections in making for a better and enclosed set-up. The other side is much worse as seats face straight-ahead, to a point where the final few sections are staring directly across the outfield. Specialty seating rears its ugly head with cut-outs in two parts of the bowl for “Dugout Suites”. These connect at the bottom for a few rows of swanky home plate club seats, which sit almost eye-level with the field. Sitting over the seating bowl is the suite level, along with party decks and another club. This sticks out enough to provide overhead cover for a good chunk of seats below and in fact, there are some back rows where it blocks the light poles, making for a nicer visual perspective at night. The color scheme remains pretty good with the team-oriented blue seat / green wall padding look.

The outfield features linear seating with the left side featuring a picnic pavilion and about five rows in the corner. My vote for best seats in the house are those down the right side as a double-decker section stacked on top of each other provides some neat perspectives. The stadium is so tight in fact, that the seats underneath have protective netting that is in play! The nearby foul pole is just 305 feet from home. Standing Room is pretty limited as the majority of spots behind the seating bowl are swivel chairs at table tops that are sold as a ticket (and boy are they difficult to squeeze in between). There are no grassy, open sections in the stadium. In terms of outside views, the best perspective is towards the left foul pole as the skyline of Hartford shines brightly across the way. Despite Dunkin’ Park sitting on a tight footprint, it is a spread-out ballpark that doesn’t have one focused area of seating.
Interior Ranking: 10.5 out of 14


Left field features a large horizontal board that during game play is too busy. Don’t get me wrong, I love stats, but between the ads and all the various sections/numbers, it’s overwhelming to look at. Clarity is crystal-clear and the few times that they show a replay, it looks really good. LED ribbon boards both in right field and on the suite-level wall assist many so you don’t have to turn and look at the scoreboard if sitting along the same side.
Scoreboard Ranking: 3.5 out of 4


The corporate influence is annoying. See above, where a big Dunkin’ cup sits on top of the scoreboard. Then on top of The Hartford Terrace, you don’t have a big Goat on there, instead a large Stag because that is the logo for the insurance company. At least it’s a good looking deer. Given that the franchise doesn’t outwardly recognize New Britain history, the team can’t be blamed for a lack of history or championship displays. I was content that they made up for it in other ways. Namely, the back of the press box wall has eight info posters that detail a wide (and I mean wide) variety of Hartford sports. Other highlights include a huge poster of the 1922 Hartford Eastern League team and a whole bunch of logos and team-oriented creations that adorn the walls.
Displays Ranking: 3.5 out of 6


Parking at $5 isn’t bad given the relative new-ness of the stadium and the downtown location. Tickets are on the higher end of the Eastern League scale as advanced purchases will be between $16 and $24 (with most of the seating bowl coming in at $19). There seemed to be some games where tickets went up a buck or two. At the concession stand, Hot Dogs go for $5, Burgers for $7 and a beer ranges from $8 to $14. Booooo for not including the 7.35% CT Tax on the menu prices.
Cost Ranking: 6.5 out of 8

Fan Support

Things were going against Hartford having a decent crowd on the night I attended as it was early in the season and the AHL team down the road was hosting a playoff game. Yet, the turnout was pretty good as about half the ballpark was filled. Conditions were better on the weekend (warmer) and that increased attendance slightly. The Yard Goats are still quite popular after six years of play, though more as an entertainment / hangout option as opposed to a devoted following that cares about team performance (that’s Minor League Baseball). Even though official attendance numbers are ghastly overestimated compared to butts in seats, it’s notable that Hartford is perennially second in the Eastern League standings. Buy summer weekend tickets ahead of time because sellouts are frequent.
Fan Support Ranking: 6 out of 8


With seating sections so spread out, a unified atmosphere or loudness is difficult to achieve. However, the way the suite overhang sticks out a little over the main bowl helps to slightly enhance the infield crowd noise. Expect lots of background chatter and kid talk at the game with a smattering paying enough attention to cheer and clap when warranted. The Yard Goats have their own cheesy intro song that they come out to and there is a home run song that plays as well. Now, this might be the best in all of baseball because Brass Bonanza is what used to come on at Hartford Whalers games. It’s an iconic piece of music and a great incorporation here!
Atmosphere Ranking: 8.5 out of 14

Other Stuff

The Yard Goats nickname came about from a Name-The-Team contest and the green/blue color scheme is a nice nod to the still loved Hartford Whalers. I also really like the team font, which replicates the logo from the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad…..Two and a half hours is generally my max for driving to a game and not staying in a hotel for the night. This one pushed the limit slightly (2:40), however it was a rough ride back. My return to Northwest Jersey featured two delays because accidents, a long slowdown due to night construction and an alternate route because of a closed section of I-80. I pulled into my driveway at 1:03 AM, a time generally foreign to me staying up to because of kids…..Dunkin’ Park occasionally hosts high school baseball and college baseball (including the UConn Huskies)……I got me a ticket stub! My collection is becoming rarer these days, but I was glad to see the box office did have some and was able to give me one at the end of the game (I got in via a print-at-home ticket)…..Check out the inspirational story on PA announcer Jared Doyon, who lives his dream despite having Tourette’s syndrome…..The Little Goats race is one of the cutest things you’ll see at a sporting event.


This was an absolute beatdown. All night, Reading pounded Yard Goats pitchers as it seemed that every ball they connected with was hard hit. They wound up with 11 runs on 17 hits as each starter got on the board. Innings 3 – 5 were when the Phils took control. Ethan Wilson had 5 RBI. Crazy thing is the next night, Reading would score even more (14). Meanwhile, first round draft pick Mick Abel cruised through the Hartford lineup as he gave up 4 hits and 1 run with 8 strikeouts.

Stadium Experience Ranking: 66 out of 100

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