July 12, 2019
Sal Maglie Stadium (Capacity: 4,000)
Niagara Falls, NY
Niagara Power vs Genesee Rapids
Final Score: 9 – 1
I’ve been to the Falls several times, but never to see a baseball game and a weekend bachelor party led me to spend an extra day in Western New York. Lying on the American side of the river by the same name that divides it with Canada, the city of Niagara Falls has a population of 50,000 and it of course is most known for being the location of the famous waterfalls. Even though the Canadian side is more vibrant & desirable, there are still huge flocks of people that come to the New York part as there are some great Falls-related activities in the historic State Park. However, this is a city that really struggles as 23% of the population was below the poverty line in 2010 and a ride through NF has many sights for sore eyes. One success story is the Niagara Power, a summer-collegiate baseball team in the NYCBL. The team began in 2007, then went on hiatus in ’16 and ’17. In 2018, Niagara University purchased the team and created a fantastic situation as they use that ownership to involve students in operating a sports franchise. This includes marketing, ticket sales and management. Games are played in Sal Maglie Stadium, a WPA project that opened in 1939 for football and baseball. It was rebuilt in 1999, supposedly for a more baseball-centric structure, however, it’s hard to tell given the seating structure here.
Prestige Ranking: 1.5 out of 5
Sal Maglie Stadium is in the northeast section of the city’s central core. As a part of Hyde Park, the stadium is just a portion of this expansive recreational area which includes golf, tennis and other ballfields. Nearby is a small lake that is visible from within the ballpark. To the east of Hyde Park Boulevard is an undesirable city neighborhood that includes a pizza joint and the Stadium Grill, a local dive bar. Of course, you’re not here for Hyde Park, you’re here to see the actual the waterfalls and an entire day should be planned to spend in Niagara Falls State Park. This section of downtown is 10 minutes away from the ballpark and while you won’t get the stunning views that the Canadian side offers, you will get remarkably close to the force of nature. Along with taking in the many amazing viewpoints, be sure to try the Maid of the Mist or the Cave of the Winds.
Location Ranking: 7 out of 10
Accessibility / Parking
I-190 connects Niagara Falls with Buffalo, which has other good interstate access. From there, Exit 23 makes for an easy arrival as that leads to Route 182 and then Route 61 for Hyde Park. Traffic is generally not an issue. Parking mostly isn’t a problem either because of low attendance, however, that doesn’t mean the situation is great. The ballpark is only served by a ~150 car parking lot behind the stadium. It’s paved, but there were just a mere 20 spaces left when the game started. I suppose you could park on the side of Hyde Park if it fills up. They certainly didn’t consider a standard crowd when setting up parking.
Accessibility / Parking Ranking: 6 out of 8
Getting into the grounds, there is a standalone wall/building that features a ticket window and a door opening, while the rest of the area is sectioned off by a chain-link fence. Beyond, is the stadium structure and it stands out vividly thanks to the bright blue and yellow team-colored walls. Above that is the top of the seating bowl.
Exterior Ranking: 4.5 out of 10
Concourse and Food
The blue and yellow walls are the frame for the outdoor concourse, which runs behind the stadium. A few tunnel-like entrances lead to the seating inside. Each side features a protruding circular structure that is the opening to each team’s clubhouse. There is only one bathroom and one food stand, the latter located directly behind home plate. Items served there are quite basic: hot dogs, burgers and snacks. Ice cream is available too, though it is just a Klondike Bar.
Concourse Ranking: 1.5 out of 5
Food Ranking: 2 out of 8
The dual seating structure makes for an odd configuration, especially around home plate. Seating is shaped like an “L”, where the third base side is very long, extending all the way down to the foul line. You can see the football origins as there is a press box in the back of the seating, a bit beyond third base (or where the 50-yard line would be). The other side is much shorter as that ends near first base. Behind home plate is the “Doug Smith Press Box” and this eats into several would-be seats in the area. It is nice that there are individual blue seats, however the configuration is horrible. Because there is no curvature to the L shape, only one section right behind home plate is angled correctly. Adjacent sections feature a head-on look with the dirt near the dugout, which is also a good distance to the field. Adding to the poor viewing are two thick support beams that hold up the protective net, in turn obstructing a critical view of the infield because of the crooked angle. It’s best to probably sit near first or third. The rest of the seating is metal bleacher and rows are spaced apart at a good distance to allow for healthy leg room. A walkway exists both at the bottom and top of the seating structure. Because of the straight-edge shape, there is one little section featuring two sets of 12 seats below the walkway directly behind home plate (could be used as a separate “box seat”). The outfield view of distant fields and trees is rather drab, especially when combined with the half dead grass in the outfield. The poor field conditions led to a couple of horrible hops that had an impact on the game.
Interior Ranking: 2.5 out of 14
Continuing the dual-purpose theme is a two-piece scoreboard. On top is the football information with things like “Down” and “Yards to go”. At the bottom is the traditional line score for baseball. The background is blue and it is quite basic with the numbers being a little hard to read in the sunshine.
Scoreboard Ranking: 1 out of 4
Originally called Hyde Park Stadium, the facility was renamed in 1983 after local product, Sal Maglie. During his time in the Big Leagues as a pitcher, he earned the nickname “Sal the Barber” because of his frequent high and inside pitches (giving batters a “close shave”). Rather unique is the barber chair located along a wall on the concourse. That’s the extent of the Displays, at least it’s a neat one.
Displays Ranking: 1.5 out of 6
It is very affordable to attend with no charge for parking and tickets just $4. Plus, kids 13 and under are free. For the concessions, nothing cost more than $3. They did have programs and they went for $2.
Cost Ranking: 8 out of 8
Fan Support and Attendance
The students who run everything do a nice job making a Power game more like a minor-league event as opposed to a no-frills summer collegiate game. There is a mascot, kids take the field with players for the anthem and there are in-between innings contests. One annoying aspect though is the advertisements. While I understand why, having to hear from the public address: “That’s a Delaware North foul ball” time after time got tiresome. As for attendance, there were just 150 – 200 people on hand. Several other teams that report attendance in the league draw better and Niagara hasn’t quite lived up to their potential given that 520 people attended the opener for the team’s return. On the positive side, there were a few in the crowd that were wearing Power shirts and they nicely clapped for a lot during the game (strikes, hits, outs, etc.) The group seemed to know one another and they gave a decent round of applause after the team scored.
Fan Support Ranking: 1 out of 8
Atmosphere Ranking: 4.5 out of 14
The NYCBL was founded in 1978 and it features a 42-game season in June and July. College students with remaining eligibility make up the players….Excluding the two seasons that the team was on hiatus, the Power have made the playoffs in five of their last six seasons, though they have yet to win the Championship Series…..A minor-league team at the Single-A level did play here for nearly a quarter century until they moved to Jamestown for the 1993 season……During this game, Niagara and Genesee were both wearing blue uniforms. Maybe someone forgot to bring the white ones?…..When kids run around on the seating structure, the reverberation makes quite a racket.
Niagara cruised thanks to an impressive performance from starting pitcher Nathan Hinckley. The Keystone College product struck out 12 in 6 innings of work and he only gave up 1 run on 2 hits. Power bats did the rest as they put up some big numbers in the middle innings to go on to win 9-1. One thing notable during the game was the amount of bunt attempts for hits. I could count on two hands the times that I saw that.