Northeast Delta Dental Stadium – New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Blue Jays in Red Sox Nation
Some ballparks have names that just roll off the tongue. Others have names that easily translate into catchy nicknames. Alas, the ballpark in Manchester, New Hampshire has never enjoyed either of these luxuries. Born in 2005 as Fisher Cats Ballpark, the ballpark was re-christened as MerchantsAuto.com Stadium in 2006. In 2011 Northeast Delta Dental insurance entered into a ten year naming rights deal.
The ballpark was built on the site of the former Singer Park in the Manchester Millyard, a soccer stadium that was also used for circuses, carnivals, and summer concerts. The grounds are notable for being the site where bricks from the Arms Textile Mill are buried. The Arms Textile Mill was the site of the deadliest outbreak of anthrax in United States history.
While the ballpark sits on the banks of the Merrimack River, it is situated so that the field faces away from the river, towards downtown Manchester. As a result, the river is not visible except from certain parts of the concourse. The dominating feature of this ballpark is the Hilton Garden Inn, which towers over the field in deep left-center field. Many rooms feature views of the ballpark, and there is a patio from which hotel guests can sit and take in the action.
The Fisher Cats have won two Eastern League championships since moving to New Hampshire from New Haven, CT. Over 100 former Fisher Cats have made their way to the Major Leagues after spending time in Manchester.
Food & Beverage 5
For a stadium the size of Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, there is an impressive variety of concession options to be found.
The centerpiece of the dining experience here is the Sam Adams Brewhouse, located at the top of the stairs as you enter the ballpark. Open to all ticket holders two hours before and after the game, the Brewhouse features a seating area that overlooks the field, several high-definition televisions, an 85 foot long Mahogany bar, and live music on the new Tiki bar stage every Thursday-Saturday. The Brewhouse can also be reserved for private functions.
Hungry Fisher Cat fans head to Smokey’s Sausage Shack for Monster Dogs, Hot Italian Sausages and Bratwursts. Portland Pie Co. serves up oversized slices of cheese and pepperoni pizza. The Primary Grill serves up local favorites from Clam Chowder to Poutine, and The Wrapery offers healthy wraps and salads.
For dining options above and beyond the standard ballpark fare, head far down the concourse to shallow right field, where Hickory’s BBQ, burgertopia and Franx are located. Among the gourmet burgers found here is the Moonshine burger, a ½ pound burger topped with pulled pork and chicken, topped with both Moonshine BBQ sauce and buffalo sauce and served on a pretzel roll.
Bottled Coca Cola products are featured at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, and a good selection of beer is available, including Sam Adams, Miller Lite and Coors Light, as well as local craft favorites from Moat Mountain, Great North, Woodstock Inn and Pig’s Ear Breweries.
The Fisher Cats offer the typical minor league gameday presentation, starting with a couple dozen first pitches and continuing with distractions aplenty throughout the game. All your typical in-game hijinks can be found here, including sumo wrestling and other between inning contests. Younger fans in attendance will gravitate towards the Planet Fitness play area at the far end of the concourse, while the adults in attendance will likely head to the social area outside of the Sam Adams Brewhouse.
Manchester is New Hampshire’s largest city, located about an hour’s drive northwest of Boston via Interstate 93. Northeast Delta Dental Stadium is located on the banks of the Merrimack River on the opposite side of the river from the highway, a short distance from downtown Manchester and SNHU Arena.
Aside from the Hilton Garden Inn and the Sam Adams Brewhouse, which are basically part of the ballpark, there is not much in the immediate vicinity of Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
Visiting fans looking for places to eat or drink will find no shortage of places in downtown Manchester about a mile from the ballpark. The Red Arrow Diner is perhaps Manchester’s most famous eatery, having been open for close to a century. It’s a favorite stop for politicians campaigning in the area and locals alike. Open 24 hours, it’s known for its enormous portions of comfort food and all-day breakfast.
Less than an hour north of Manchester are the White Mountains, which contain some excellent ski resorts. In the summer many mountain areas convert into summer vacation destinations. Favorite attractions such as Lake Winnipesaukee and the numerous touristy spots along the Kancamangus Highway are just a short drive away.
The Fisher Cats annually finish in the middle of the Eastern League attendance rankings, averaging a shade under 5,000 fans per game. Being affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays while located in the middle of Red Sox country is hardly a recipe for success, but the Fisher Cats have a dedicated, enthusiastic fan base.
As is typical in minor league parks throughout the country, crowds in Manchester are a mixture of die-hard baseball fans and families. With the constant on-field shenanigans and things to do for young and old fans alike, there’s solid energy coming from the stands.
While Northeast Delta Dental’s location right off of Interstate 293 in downtown Manchester would seem most convenient, getting in and out of the area can be difficult. The ballpark is located on a dead end street with only one way in and out, meaning you shouldn’t be in a hurry, especially when leaving after the game. In fact, many Fisher Cats fans choose to park in the lots further from the ballpark because these lots are much easier to get out of.
At the ballpark, fans enter via a staircase that deposits them onto the concourse in deep left field. Here visiting fans will notice the upgrades to the entry plaza, which included new tiered seating, a stage for musical performances, a social area, tiki bar and rock waterfall.
The open concourse, located at the top of the seating bowl, wraps all the way around the field from deep left to deep right field. It allows for views of the field from all spots. All the seats here are green plastic stadium chairs, except for section 117 in right field, which is made up of metal bleachers. Unfortunately, the seating bowl is not angled towards home plate, meaning seats further down the lines face centerfield.
The concourse is somewhat narrow and can be difficult to navigate when there is a large crowd in attendance. Restrooms are clean, and large enough for the typical Fisher Cat crowd.
Return on Investment 3
All tickets for Fisher Cats games cost twelve dollars if purchased in advance or fourteen dollars if buying on game day. While this makes prime seating a bargain, seats further from the action may suffer a bit in comparison. Fans have the option of purchasing Assurance tickets, which are fully transferable to another game should you not use your ticket. This privilege will cost you an additional three dollars.
Parking in the many small lots near Northeast Delta Dental Stadium costs ten dollars. There are cheaper alternatives further from the ballpark, but these lots involve a decent walk. There is some on-street parking near the ballpark and in the downtown area, but these spots are snatched up quickly. Pay attention to the times meters are in effect, as these spots may cost you depending on the time of the game.
Concession prices are generally in line with other venues in the area.
An extra point is awarded for the Hilton Garden Inn that towers over the field and the Sam Adams Bar and Grill, two very unique features in an otherwise plain ballpark.
Three retired numbers hang on the right field fence honoring individuals who never suited up for the Fisher Cats; 42 (Jackie Robinson), 83 (in honor of Manchester police officer Michael Briggs, who was killed in the line of duty) and 29 (local resident and major leaguer Chris Carpenter).
A final extra point for the improvements to the ballpark and efforts of the staff here in Manchester, which continue to attract New Hampshire baseball fans to this Toronto affiliate located smack dab in the middle of Red Sox country.
A Toronto farm team in the middle of Red Sox territory has to work harder to keep the fans coming, and the Fisher Cats staff do a great job filling Northeast Delta Dental Stadium year after year. While this may not be the most memorable ballpark out there, there’s plenty going on in Manchester to make a trip here worthwhile.
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Food and Drink Recommendations
Red Arrow Diner
61 Lowell St.
Manchester, NH 03101
Hilton Garden Inn Manchester
101 S Commercial St
Manchester, NH 03101
Radisson Hotel Manchester Downtown
700 Elm St
Manchester, NH 03101
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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.