Ranking the Minor League Ballparks of New England
New England is home to several minor league ballparks. There are a variety of teams, from AAA baseball down to Low A teams with players who are straight out of college. There are some parks that have been around for quite a long time, and some that have just recently been opened. One downside of New England baseball though is that you may have to brave some cold early season weather to see a game. However, once we get into the summer there isn’t a better area of the country to catch a game in than New England. With a mixture of old and new age parks, New England has a great variety of ballparks to catch a game in. Click on any of the links below to read the full review of each ballpark experience.
While many baseball fans in the Hartford area were initially critical of the Rock Cats’ move from the suburbs, and became increasingly vocal as the ballpark’s construction was delayed and cost overruns mounted, they have come out in solid numbers for the Yard Goats. Dunkin’ Donuts Park has the feeling of a venue that has tried too hard to incorporate as many features as possible into one place. Baseball almost feels like an afterthought here. Time will tell if this ballpark will age gracefully, but for now, it appears to be a venue well worth the wait for Hartford baseball fans.
Hadlock Field is definitely not the place for baseball purists. The park is quirky and kitschy. It’s loaded with unique features designed to attract the sometime fan. Some would say that Hadlock Field just tries too hard. Still, it works. The partnership between the baseball-crazy fans of Maine and the nearby Boston Red Sox is a natural fit, and the Mainers fill the aluminum bleachers of Hadlock Field on a regular basis. Spending a leisurely summer day in the beautiful city of Portland only adds to the experience.
LeLacheur Park, located on the banks of the Merrimack River and the edge of the UMass Lowell campus, serves as the home of both the Lowell Spinners, class A short season affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks baseball team. Named for civic leader Edward A LeLacheur, who spearheaded the redevelopment of the city of Lowell, LeLacheur Park has enjoyed several seasons of the facility at full capacity since the arrival of the Spinners in 1998. The ballpark was designed by Populous, the firm responsible for numerous prominent sporting venues worldwide.
The first incarnation of the Centennial Field ballpark was part of an athletic complex constructed in 1906 to celebrate the first graduating class of the University of Vermont. The third and current grandstand at the site was built in 1922, making it the oldest ballpark in use in the minor leagues. The old park hasn’t been left as-is, however, and has undergone a number of major face lifts and almost annual upgrades in recent years, including a new scoreboard and increased and improved seating. The 4,415-seat stadium is the current home of the Vermont Lake Monsters, the short-season, single-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics in the NY-Penn League.
Being an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays smack dab in the middle of Red Sox country wouldn’t seem to be a recipe for success, but the Fisher Cats have managed to carve out a successful niche for themselves in New Hampshire with endless promotions and a family friendly atmosphere. While Northeast Delta Dental Stadium isn’t especially noteworthy, it does have enough going for it to be worth a visit.
While the team is contractually bound to remain at McCoy Stadium until 2021, the chances of the Pawsox remaining there beyond then are admittedly slim. The team has stated that they wish to remain in Rhode Island, and all indications are that the team would prefer to move to the larger city of Providence. As negotiations progress, expect many New England cities to take their shot at luring the top farm club of the local Boston Red Sox. Fans wishing to visit this most unique ballpark should take a trip to the Ocean State soon, before it’s too late.
7. Dodd Stadium- Home of the Connecticut Tigers (Low A) 3.00
Senator Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium was built in 1995 to house the Norwich Navigators, the AA Eastern League affiliate of the New York Yankees. The Yankees placed their prospects in eastern Connecticut through 2003, when they moved their affiliation to Trenton, New Jersey. The San Francisco Giants then set up shop in Norwich, rebranding the team as the Connecticut Defenders in 2006. Facing steadily declining attendance, the team moved to Richmond, Virginia for the 2010 season. Filling the vacuum immediately was the New York-Penn League, which was looking to move out of their traditional footprint into more modern ballparks. The Connecticut Tigers were born, and have called Dodd Stadium home since 2010.
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