Peoples Natural Gas Field – Altoona, Pennsylvania

General Impression: One of the nicest minor league parks we’ve ever been to, and probably the best in AA (again, from those we’ve seen in person). Our third attempt at seeing at game here is the one that finally took, as the Curve weren’t home on two previous passes through Altoona. The stadium is a double decker, something you don’t usually see in AA ball. A main concourse, that looks onto the field, runs behind the lower level of seating. Upstairs, another enclosed concourse leads to the upper deck of seating. It’s not a ‘walkaround’ concourse – a feature I’m very much in favor of – but I’ll give them a break here in Altoona. The one thing that prevents it from being a circumferential concourse is the roller coaster in right field – a unique touch that adds to the character of the place.

Food and Libations: The usual here, save for a couple of differences. One was the large beer – domestic, imported, and craft – down the third base line. Lots of taps, so if you can’t find a beer you like here you’re probably just a beer snob. The other was the ‘curverogi’ – a concoction that put ham, pierogie, onions, and cheese between two pieces of white bread. I had one, and I have to say – it was pretty good!

Parking: An adjoining parking ramp is available for the general public, and at $2.00 it’s reasonably priced.

Programs/Scorecards: Another team that gets it and gets it right – free when you walk in. (I still don’t understand, nor approve of, teams that sell advertising to put in a book, and then charge more for said book. More and more teams are going to the ‘free’ option, just wish they all would).

Complaints/Gripes: None really. If you don’t like ballparks with lots of mascots and stuff to distract the kids, then this probably isn’t the place for you. A large play area and arcade are present down the right field line, and it’s clear the Curve cater to the younger (kid) crowd. Ya know what though? Get the kids hooked, and they’ll bring their parents. And what parent wouldn’t want or need a libation or two when trying to survive at the ballpark with their little one? The Curve are doing it right, and doing it well, and surviving in the smallest market in the Eastern League. Good on ya!

Yes/No/Maybe: We would go back for sure. Off the beaten path for us, so we may not go out of the way to get there, but if we happened to be ‘that way’ and the Curve were home, we’d hit up another game.

Pictures: Pictures on Tim and Jills Arenas and Stadiums

Page created May 9, 2012

 

PNC Field – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

General Impression: Upon writing this blog entry, this will have been our third game, and fourth trip overall (I toured PNC Park as well), and after out latest trip it will read much different than previously. This is one of our favorite MLB parks. Smaller than most, but the perfect size for the Pirates current fan base. It has one of the best views in all of baseball with the skyline of downtown Pittsburgh in the not to far distance, and the Roberto Clemente bridge in the foreground. It is (now) well kept, with employees walking the concourse and cleaning even during the game. The downtown locale is a perfect spot if you want to find a hotel room, walk to the game, and enjoy a couple of days in P-Burgh. Due to the size, the upper deck isn’t really all that ‘upper’, but most of the time there are seats to be had in the lower bowl so why trek up there?

Food and Libations: As with many of the other modern parks, there is a wide variety of food options at PNC.  In the left field corner, on the main concourse, is an area known as ‘Pops Plaza’, named in honor of Pirate great Willie Stargell.  There you can find Nakama, Chicken-on the-Hill, Pub 475, Familee BBQ and Chickie’s & Pete’s.  On the opposite end of the main concourse is ‘Smorgasburgh’, and there you can find P-Burgh famous Primanti Brothers as well as Quaker Steak and Lube!  In between the two areas are stands with the usual ballpark fare, so if a hot dog or nachos are what you’re looking for you’re sure to find it.  Beer was of the Budweiser variety at most stands, but IC Light was on tap at Primanti’s and one other stand along the main concourse had Miller Lite as well.  There is a ‘Beers of the Burgh’ stand, featuring craft beers from the Pittsburgh area, in the Smorgasburgh section as well.

Parking: As PNC is situated in the stadiums section of Pittsburgh, its sister stadium Heinz Field right up the road, there are many surface lots around the stadium.  That being said, the one that I did see was $20 to park your car for the afternoon, a bit pricey but you’re a captive audience if you drive to the game.  For our three games at PNC, we’ve always stayed at an area hotel and walked.

Programs/Scorecards: Free as you come through the gate.

Complaints/Gripes: Before our last trip to PNC I would have filled this section up with lots of negative, but they turned my opinion around.  This is a very nice ballpark, one of the nicest, and there was a point a couple of seasons back where it wasn’t being taken care of like it should.  It was dirty, unkempt, and unfriendly, and if not for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in 2012 we may not have gone back after our experience there in 2010.  We did go back though, and are happy to report that the upkeep is there now.  With that, I have no complaints about PNC.

Yes/No/Maybe: Geographically, Pittsburgh is a little difficult for us to get to.  A six hour drive from home, and a long drive at that, may make this answer be an automatic ‘no’.  The ballpark being what it is though (one of the nicest) will change this to a very strong maybe; a place that we would, in fact, go out of our way to get back to.

Pictures: Pictures on Tim and Jill’s Travelogue

This page was created on May 9, 2012

 

Blue Cross Arena – Rochester, New York

General Impression: Okay, so, let me get one thing out of the way before I go any further. Growing up, I was a huge Binghamton hockey fan. Our number one rival? The team that we loved to hate? The team that ALWAYS seemed to have our number? Yeah, the Rochester Americans. There it is, I’ve laid it out – so if my opinion seems a bit jaded, that’s the basis for it. A few years back, the Blue Cross Arena got a face lift. Problem is, that’s all it seemed to get, a face lift. The entryway is spacious and nice, but the concourses (hallways?) that run the length of either side of the arena are small and cramped, especially when the Roch-cha-cha fans come out in droves to see their teams play. There is one spot down each concourse where it ‘juts out’ and an open area with concessions on both sides is present, but it does little to unclog the congestion leading up to it. Even the seats seem close together, with little leg room even for the shortest of us. Overall, the place just seems cramped. I would have thought after spending however much they spent to gussy the place up, this claustrophobia would have been addressed just a little.

Food and Libations: The usual, hot dogs, pretzels, soda and beer. Nothing here (at least not on the night we were there) to make it stand out food or drink wise. Hit up the Dino over the bridge before or after if you’re looking for a culinary treat – you won’t find it at the Blue Cross.

Parking: A large lot sits adjacent to the arena, and has been there for, well, a long time. When I went to college in Rochester in ’88 this is where I used to park. Our latest trip we stayed close by, so we didn’t need to park for the game. Beyond the surface lot behind the arena, the lots and parking ramps around the Blue Cross are plentiful in the middle of downtown Rochester.

Programs/Scorecards: The Knighthawks had them in wire racks at multiple points as you came in the large entry way – no charge. (bonus!)

Complaints/Gripes: I think I pretty much aired these out in my first section, save one. Please, if you are going to sell cotton candy in the stands, don’t do it by walking up and down the stairs carrying a LARGE cardboard holder. Innevitably, as we found on this night, one kid will stop you, then another, then another, and on and on. In the meantime, everyone above you can’t see the action on the ice/field. Thumbs down on this Knighthawks, thumbs down.

Yes/No/Maybe: This is my first ‘maybe’ in a long time. We would really like to go to the RIT game at the Blue Cross, held once every season, but beyond that there isn’t much here that we would go out of our way to go back to.

Pictures: Pictures on Tim and Jill’s Travelogue

This page was created on May 1, 2012

 

Citi Field – Flushing, New York

General Impression: Shea Stadium had run its course, especially in the new age of Major League Baseball where everyone expects a flashy stadium with lots of clubs and suites and such. So, in that, Citi Field is a great replacement for Shea. The Mets have gradually tried to make Citi feel ‘Mets’ like and not just a generic ballpark (which is what it looked like in its first season). There are three separate levels, the main concourse being the busiest by far with the most varied food options. Most enter through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, a great entry point and part of the architecture at Citi. Most would say, with the Rotunda being part of the overall stadium structure, that Citi looks a lot like Ebbets Field – and they would be right. But, what’s wrong with copying a bit of that old classic?

Food and Libations:Lots to choose from here! Usual ballpark fare of course at the main stands, but make your way to the area in center field behind the big scoreboard. Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, and others add a great variety to the usual stuff you would find at the ballpark, and this is an area we always head to pre-game to grab some eats. El Verano Taqueria is top notch with their chicken pipian tacos in my book! A craft beer stand is in this area as well with leaps and bounds more selection than the three drafts available at most stands.

Parking:There’s a large lot adjacent to the stadium – and it will cost you $20.00 to park there. A bit steep, maybe, but somedays its nice to have the car a short walk away. An alternative to driving to the stadium and parking there (and dealing with the traffic jam afterwards) is to, sing it with me now, “take the train to the game”. The 7 train comes from the 42nd Street station in Manhattan – and you can get there from pretty much anywhere in the world – and provides a good alternative as far as transporting yourself to the game.

Programs/Scorecards: For sale by vendors as you walk through the gate in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. (didn’t buy one last game so I’m not sure how much they are now).

Complaints/Gripes: None with the stadium itself really. Seating is all pretty good, food is top notch (for a ballgame). My biggest problem with the ‘stadium’ is the parking lot and the traffic after the game. Hit up McFadden’s for a post game brew and bite and you won’t have to worry about this though. Other biggest complaint – the team on the field of course! But, I’m a Mets fan since birth – I’ve earned the right to complain about the team.

Yes/No/Maybe:Without a doubt.

Pictures: Pictures on Tim and Jill’s Travelogue

This page was created on April 24, 2012

 

First Arena – Elmira, New York

General Impression: Elmira and the First Arena have always impressed me with their support of hockey.  Upstate New York is one of the hotbeds in the U.S. for hockey, with many differing levels existing within a few hours drive of each other.  Elmira was a suprise and welcome edition to that landscape.  Originally housing a team in the United Hockey League, with geographic rivals in Binghamton to the east, the ECHL Jackals still draw very well in an area that at first glance wouldn’t seem as though they could.  The arena itself is of appropriate size for the area, with a practice rink attached off the back end (which is utilized by the local youth hockey organization regularly).  The only concourse only goes around 3/4 of the way, creating an interesting access point for the sections on the end near the locker rooms.  To get to this area of seating, make sure you time it right – they actually close off access just before and just after the periods begin/end, since the referees and visiting team has to walk across this part of the concourse to get to their locker room.

Food and Libations: Four concession stands dot the concourse – two at the ‘red line’ on either side, and two in the corners.  Usual rink fare here (hot dogs, pizza, popcorn, pretzels), as well as draft beer and soda.  Two portable beer stands are also present at similar spots down each side concourse as well, and these both offer a ‘larger’ selection of libations than the concession stands do.

Parking: There is a parking ramp about a block north of the rink, as well as at least one surface lot a block west of the rink, both charging $5.00 for a spot.  Last game we went to there (4/12) we were actually able to find a spot on the street at a meter.

Programs/Scorecards: Programs were for sale in the gift shop for $2.00.  If you don’t want all of those ads, and just want the lineups, there were roster sheets on wire racks just inside of all of the entrances.

Complaints/Gripes: To tell you the truth, I gots nuttin’ for this catagory.  Nice, small rink.  Passionate fans.  Cold beer.  What more could you want?

Yes/No/Maybe: This one stays a ‘yes’ for us.  Its close enough to home, and a nice change of scenery, that if the timing was right we’d make the drive.

Pictures: Pictures on Tim and Jill’s Travelogue

This page was created on April 16, 2012

 

 

Baseball 2011 Wrap Up

So, as the temps start to drop, and the leaves on the trees here in the northeast begin to vary in shades of green, it’s time to look back over the 2011 baseball season and see where we’ve been.

This year, it started out pretty early for us – February 28th to be exact!  In what seems like a lifetime ago, (reality being it was only seven short months ago) we added a ‘new’ stadium to the list by attending the New York Mets spring training game at Digital Domain Park in St. Lucie, Florida.  A perfect day for baseball if I remember correctly, good bit of sun, perfect game time temp.  Digital Domain reminded us of our ‘home’ ballpark in Binghamton, and with the Mets on the field it had a very familiar feel to it for sure.

Digital Domain Park would prove to be one of only four new stadiums for us this year.  Situations and schedules be what they may, our ballpark travel schedule wasn’t as kind to us in 2011 as it had been the previous two years.

The next park checked off the list is one I went to somewhat on my own, as the other half of the ‘arenas and stadiums’ crew was home in Binghamton.  Coolray Field, home of the Gwinnett Braves, was stadium number two of 2011.  An adequate facility for baseball (always love the wrap around concourses!), I’m just not a Braves fan.

Number three on the ‘new’ list was a pleasant surprise for us – U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois.  After all of the ‘negative’ we had read about the replacement for venerable Comisky Park, what we found on the ‘South Side’ was not what we expected.  Lots of concessions, wide concourse (and wrap around!), fans that were into the game – someplace we will love to get back to.

Our fourth, and final, new stadium of 2011 was Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg, PA, which over the last couple of years went through a multi-million dollar face lift.  What they have now is a real gem, and was worth the drive for us to watch a game.  Wrap around concourse (see a theme here?), lots of concessions (and a great beer selection!), great scoreboard, and a packed house all contributed to an enjoyable night for us.  Unfortunately, the one thing that ruined it was our Binghamton  Mets losing the game, but a good trip none the less.

We were able to visit MLB’s two remaining ‘classic’ parks this year as well, both a revisit for us, with a trip to the Friendly Confines in July, and Fenway Pahk a few weeks later.  We made our (now) traditional trip to CitiField in May for the Mets Mothers Day game, but this would be our only trip to Flushing this season.  The Mets haven’t been productive enough on the field for us to want to make a day of it to watch them lose.  In all, only three MLB games found their way onto our itinerary this year, hopefully a number that will increase a bit in 2012.

In AAA ball, a return trip to Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse, coupled with the game at Coolray Field, would encompass the two senior circuit games in 2011.  With nine games attended at NYSEG Stadium, it seems as though our baseball ‘time’ was spent at home this year, which isn’t such a bad thing as old Binghamton Municipal is still one of our favorite ballparks.  The trip to Harrisburg was the only other AA game we saw.  Two games in Brooklyn, and one in Auburn, round out the NY-Penn League games we attended this year.  No Indy ball for us in 2011, but hopefully we’ll get to Rockland County early in 2012 to see the stadium they opened there this season.

 

 

Carrier Dome – Syracuse, New York

General Impression: With as harsh as the winters can be in Upstate New York, the ‘Dome’ is a welcome venue for us.  Great atmosphere for the basketball games we’ve been to over the years, as well as the football game we went to this past weekend.  Two concourses service both the upper and lower decks, with fans being able to walk all the way around on either concourse.  For football, really not a bad seat in the house as far as sightlines go.  The upper deck for basketball is ‘upper’, but you’re still able to see the game below (and again, the atmosphere just helps get you swept up in all of it no matter where you’re sitting).

Food and Libations: The usual sporting venue fare here, dogs, popcorn, nachos, sodas.  Beer is the usual suspects as well, and being this close to the Canadian border Labatt’s products are available as well – always a plus in our book!

Parking: So, yikes!  A bit on the pricey side here.  We’ve paid $10.00 for a lacrosse game, and $20.00 for both football and basketball at the ramps surrounding the campus and dome.  Not sure how much to park at Manley and shuttle to the Dome, mostly because that isn’t our thing and I’d rather pay the extra to not have to ‘shuttle’.

Programs/Scorecards: Paid $5.00 for the one at the football game, not sure how much for the other sports at this point.  The program at the football game included a coupon book for local eateries that would save you more than the $5.00 you paid for the program.

Complaints/Gripes: Minor, if any.  The upper deck are metal benches, no backs, so if you’re used to leaning on something sit downstairs, or rent/purchase a stadium seat.  In spite of its age, the Dome is well cared for, clean, and a no frills venue – which is just fine by us.

Yes/No/Maybe: This one is a yes, for sure.  Closest Division 1 venue to us (unless you count BU, but last I checked their basketball team wasn’t playing the Big East teams Syracuse does), this will always be on the radar for us.

Pictures: Pictures on Tim and Jill’s Travelogue

This page was created on September 14, 2011

 

Fenway Park – Boston, Massachusettes

General Impression: I’ll start this entry by saying I don’t really like the Red Sox, never have.  Being from New York, it’s kind of ingrained into our psyche I guess; and it’s not that I’m a Yankees fan either, because goodness knows I’m not.  That being said, Jill said it best – Fenway Park is a great place to watch a ballgame, it’s just too bad the Red Sox play there!  The oldest stadium still in use in the major leagues, this place certainly does not show it’s age.  Sure, the sight lines aren’t what those new fangled ballparks offer, and the ‘amenities’ that corporate fans are used to having aren’t there, but this is Boston, and much like it’s compatriot in Chicago (Wrigley Field that is), this is a place where a blue collar baseball fan can come on a Sunday afternoon, get himself/herself a bleacher seat, have a Fenway Frank and Sam Adams, and enjoy America’s game.  Of course, with the recent success by the Red Sox, the blue collar fan has been priced out of Fenway.  That’s why the only games we’ve ever been to here were of the ‘Futures at Fenway’ variety.  Twenty bucks a seat, and both times we were within ten rows of the field.  The concourses are clean and well maintained, with nooks and crannies abounding.  On a ‘quick’ jaunt to snap some pictures during out latest visit, I took one ramp, then the next, and next thing I knew I was at the top of the stadium – literally!  Fenway is quintessential baseball, no different than Wrigley, and an afternoon or evening here is as American as it has been for the past 100 years.

Food and Libations: Numerous stands throughout the lower concourse serve up the usual ballpark fares, including Fenway franks, seafood (this is New England of course), and pizza, as well as chicken fingers, sushi, and the old baseball staple peanuts and popcorn.  In the right field ‘corner’ is a larger food stand(s) area as well.  Beer can be found throughout, and I’m pretty sure it was a cup of Sam Adams suds I had on our most recent trip.  Prices are MLB reasonable.

Parking: Not sure, because as with other MLB stadiums we’ve been to – we took the ‘T’.  A $2.00 fare and quick jaunt around the corner from the Kenmore station and there she sat right in front of us.  There appeared to be various lots around the ballpark in the neighborhood, but one of the signs I saw said “Parking $40.00”.  Yeah, I don’t think so.  Take the train folks.

Programs/Scorecards: Paid $2.00 for one at the main gate, only gave us the lineup for the ‘home’ teams, and we ended up throwing it away on our way out.

Complaints/Gripes: I don’t really have any, save but one which I’ll get to.  The only games we’ve seen here are ‘minor’ league games, so I’d be interested to see what this place is like when the Sawx are playing.  The aisles are tight, as are the seats, but if you go realizing this then there really isn’t anything to complain about.  One complaint I do have though is in regards to ‘information’ that is on the ‘net as well as displayed at Fenway.  On the ‘net, it says gates open two hours prior to gametime; at Fenway, on the fences at the gates, it says 90 minutes; during our latest visit, they opened the gates one hour prior to gametime.  Not acceptable to put one form of information out there, and not stick to it – we would have wasted more time doing something else had we known we wouldn’t be able to get into the park until an hour before gametime (not two hours like the Red Sox website states).

Yes/No/Maybe: Sure, it’s Fenway, it’s classic, and it’s baseball.  Would we go when they were playing say the Yankees or Rays?  Probably not (Yanks tix are too much, and we’re Rays fans so I would hate to go there and cheer against them).  Any other team(s) though, yeah we’d go back.

Pictures: Pictures on Tim and Jill’s Travelogue

This page was created on August 22, 2011.

 

Metro Bank Park – Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

General Impression: So, the ballpark on City Island went through a massive overhaul over the past couple of years.  Previous, only going by pictures and other descriptions I’ve seen, it wasn’t a place we would have gone out of our way to go to a game at.  Now, though, it’s quickly become somewhere we would go back to.  Number one on my favorite things about this stadium list – a wrap around concourse.  Any ballpark that creates or has a 360 degree concourse is tops in my book.  Luckily, it seems to be the trend nowadays.  This always lends an area with a different and unique view, and also (in minor league parks) feels more ‘open aired’, so if sitting in the seating bowl is cramped or stuffy, just take a walk around.  As for the rest of MetroBank Park, the seats were comfortable, good sight lines, concessions throughout with good selections (kind of – see below).  A ‘keeper’ in our book.

Food and Libations: There are numerous stands throughout the ballpark, with the usual ballpark fare of hot dogs and popcorn being offered, as well as one of the best hamburgers I’ve ever had at a ballpark, purchased from ‘The Spot’ in the left field corner.  Troegs has a beer stand in left center field, and is sold at stands throughout the park.  There was even a guy pushing a cart around and making ice cream sundaes!  Between permanent stands and portable ones, you won’t go hungry here!

Parking: It’s $3.00 to park on City Island, with three lots and a parking ramp adjacent to the ballpark.

Programs/Scorecards: $2.00, get ’em as you walk through the gate.

Complaints/Gripes: Couple things the Senators can improve on, one big thing they can’t.  Start with what they can.  Day before the game, I received an e-mail about our upcoming visit to Metro Bank Park, similar to ones MLB teams have been sending out.  Here’s the problem – it’s our first time to the park, there is a link that says ‘Parking Information’, but when you click on it all that comes up is a map to the stadium.  Nothing about cost, or number of spaces, or alternatives if the ballpark lots are full.  Good idea in theory, poor result in execution.  Another pretty simple fix, have enough food.  Most ballparks assume that everyone that comes to their games will eat the ‘usual’ fare (hot dogs, deep fried crap, unhealthy stuff), so when we find a park where that isn’t the case – bonus!  Almost bonus in Harrisburg that is.  In about the third inning, we went to a stand that touted a pulled chicken sandwich (healthier than many of the other ballpark offerings – bonus!). When we got there, we found that they were in fact out of the chicken.  In the third inning.  Big thumbs down Senators – no excuse whatsoever for being out of anything at a game, let alone in the third inning.  The last item, and there isn’t anything they can do about this I would imagine – the ‘river bugs’.  You know, those white bugs that like to fly around near the stadium lights and then start dropping down on the fans below?  Yeah, they show up, we’re outta there.  It happens at home in Binghamton, we leave, same holds true anywhere else.  Considering the ballpark is in the middle of the river on an island, there probably isn’t anything they can do about this one.

Yes/No/Maybe: In all, we had a good time at Metro Bank Park and liked the facility very much.  Complaints aside, we’d go back again for a game for sure.

Pictures: Pictures of Metro Bank Park on Tim and Jill’s Arenas and Stadiums

This page was created on August 4, 2011

 

Social Media

So, let it be known, on August 4th, 2011 our little corner of the WWW has entered the social media realm.  With the creation of a Facebook page for ‘tim and jill’s arenas and stadiums’ we have officially entered (as a website) the social media craze that has permeated society.  Mind you, we’ve been pretty active on a personal level on both Facebook and Twitter pretty much since their inception, but this is the first foray into those mediums with one of our travel websites.  Hopefully it proves to be a wise decision, as I’ve learned in the past when you throw your ‘opinions’ out there for all to scrutinize, sometimes it doesn’t work out as you would have hoped.

 
 
 

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