UPMC Park – Erie Seawolves
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See the SeaWolves
UPMC Park is a classic minor league ballpark in both location and design. Placed in the confines of an Erie, PA city block, the park has hosted the SeaWolves franchise since day one in 1995. Currently, the AA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers calls home a stadium that has one of top ten seats in all of minor league baseball. The stadium has undergone one major transformation in 2006 that added two picnic gardens, club boxes and concession stands. This 2013 season, the SeaWolves underwent a facelift with a new logo leading to new banners and designs.
The field itself features an intriguing design that challenges the fielders and pitchers more than anything. With a 400 dead center field fence, the lines read just 312 in left and 328 in right, making pull hitters on both sides of the plate very comfortable. The Erie Insurance Arena makes up the left field wall with the homerun line about halfway up the side of the arena. Power hitting prospects such as Miguel Sano and Anthony Rendon have shown off by blasting moonshots over the arena.
Food & Beverage 4
With eight different concession areas, ranging from the Sausage Shack at the end of the left field concourse to the Bud Light Beer Garden on the opposite field, there are food options for everyone. Jerry Uht covers the basics at very reasonable ballpark prices: hot dogs, sausages, burgers, nachos, pizza, slushies, Dippin’ Dots, boxed candy, chicken sandwiches, tenders, and fries.
Look a little more and you find pulled pork sandwiches, Philly cheese steaks, walking tacos, wings, garlic fries, pepperoni balls, salads, veggie burgers, helmet sundaes, domestic draft beers and bottled chillers.
The top two concession finds have to be the Howlin’ Jalapeno Burger, a burger with pepper jack cheese, hot peppers and a secret spicy sauce ($6.25) or the Super Helmet Nacho ($15) which features enough nachos to feed Mo Vaughn with whatever toppings you desire all inside of a souvenir Rally Batting Helmet. Professional Sports Catering has stepped up the concessions at The Uht over the past few seasons.
Minor league baseball has a reputation for putting on a show within the show of a baseball game. The SeaWolves staff does its best to borrow games that have been successful with other teams and create some of their own. Inflatable horse races, blindfolded musical chairs, mystery boxes, and rubber chicken tosses are all standard at a game. One of the better games is a modified t-shirt toss to whichever side of the field sings a classic rock song the loudest.
The best entertainment is the “Retirement Village People,” which is a group of retirement-age ushers who dress up and lead the crowd in the YMCA. Combine this with new video features such as Twitter Time (where players read embarrassing tweets from other teammates) or Water Cooler Talk (two bullpen guys chat about amusing topics) and the atmosphere is great. Add in the packed Buck Night Crowd, and it’s a picture-perfect night of minor league baseball.
Located in downtown Erie, Jerry Uht is just a two-minute walk from Perry Square, the heart of the city. Facing north from the State Street intersection (Erie’s main North-South Road) you’ll see the scenic Lake Erie view that highlights Erie’s postcards.
Locally owned bars and restaurants line the State Street walk south from Perry Square to the stadium with several more if you keep walking south. Calamari’s is a great place to hit for dinner with many options for both the seafood and non-seafood lovers. If you’re looking for just a drink or two, try either Brewerie or Tap House as both feature locally brewed beverages on tap. After the game, Slugger’s Bar and Grille is just a stone’s throw up the block from the stadium.
It doesn’t matter the crowd size, the SeaWolves fans are a pretty great group to watch a game with. It’s a very family friendly environment with C. Wolf and Perry the Fish leading cheers from the tops of dugouts. One of the best moments is when the SeaWolves hit a home run and music plays while the entire stadium fist pumps, including the ushers. The crowd I saw was a Buck Night crowd milling around kegs set up to serve beer paying attention a pitcher’s duel. The crowd got riled up for big pitches and many fans wore both the new and old SeaWolves merchandise. Erie’s Drew VerHagen (a dark horse pitching prospect for the Tigers) went eight shutout innings with the crowd on their feet for the ninth for the flamboyant fireball closer Melvin Mercedes.
Jerry Uht Park is in the perfect location within the downtown Erie landscape. The field is very easy to get to from any direction, just off State Street and just a few minutes from the Bayfront Connector (Highway connector of I-90 and I-79 through downtown Erie).
There are two mass parking facilities on the first base line block of the stadium: an open lot and garage that both charge $4 for event parking. There is free side street and State Street parking every day after 6 PM and it is not a far walk from several other lots that empty after work hours. Within the stadium, ramps have been added to access the garden without having to use an elevator while there are two elevators to allow handicapped patrons access to the upper and suite levels of the stadium.
Return on Investment 5
The SeaWolves have marketed themselves as Erie’s best entertainment value for the whole family, and a night out at Jerry Uht Park should confirm this. Hit the stadium on a Monday Buck Night and all hot dogs, sodas, popcorn and beer (yes beer) are just $1 each, drawing huge crowds. Tickets for the games range from $5 cheap seats to just $12 for an infield box seat. Furthermore, group rates are easily obtained with a phone call (814-456-1300) and all you can eat seats are extremely popular. With so many future stars being held at AA, you’re just as likely to see a baseball star in Erie as you will at an MLB game for a fraction of the price.
There is a kid area near the Sausage Shack that features a bounce house and a speed pitch where kids can see just how hard they throw for $1. The cherry on top is that the team seems very accessible for postgame and pregame autographs, often using rain delays and pregame stretches to sign autographs for anyone who stands along the third base railing.
The Erie SeaWolves have done a great job improving Jerry Uht Park year to year. I’ve been going to SeaWolves games since I was in grade school and things have never been this well done in terms of entertainment and facilities considering, that major renovations are now seven years in the past. Overall, Jerry Uht is a must visit if you’re in the Pittsburgh-Buffalo-Cleveland area.
The Avalon Hotel
16 W 10th St
Erie, PA 16501
Days Inn Erie
7415 Schultz Rd
Erie, PA 16509
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