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Official Review by Mike Poirier, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Greatness and the city of Brantford seem to go hand in hand. The city is known as the birthplace of National Hockey League legend Wayne Gretzky, and was once home to the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell. Another thing going for Brantford is the Red Sox, who play in the Intercounty Baseball League. The team has been in existence since 1911, but they didn't join the IBL until 1934 from the Ontario League, which disbanded due to the Great Depression.
Since the beginning the Red Sox have called Cockshutt Park home, and play at the Arnold Anderson Stadium, which was named after local broadcaster Arnold Anderson in 1998. The franchise has won a league best 15 championships, which includes six straight titles from 2008 to 2013.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Arnold Anderson has a decent selection of food items, and they are reasonably priced. There are the classic hot dogs and sausages along with nachos, chips, candy bars and freezies for the hot days, and they also serve Pepsi products.
The only issue with the concession area is that it is located outside the ballpark along with the washrooms. However, it's not a long walk, and you won't have any issues getting back to your seat.
The majority of Brantford games are played under the lights, with first pitch at 8pm. Since the ballpark faces west, they start the games later to allow the sun to set behind the trees in the outfield, so it doesn't affect the batter too much, and it's also helpful for the fans sitting behind home plate.
With the layout of the stadium, you feel like you are close to the action, but without feeling cramped. All the seats provide great views of the diamond, and both staff and fans are very friendly and welcoming to those who may be attending a Red Sox game for the first time.
Arnold Anderson is located in a residential area, just west of downtown Brantford. There is a large playground which is great for kids, along with picnic tables nearby if you're looking to kill some time with the family before a game.
If you are looking to pick up a nearby meal before or after the game, there are several restaurants to choose from along Colborne Street. They are within a five minute drive of the stadium and include Pita Pit, Starbucks, Tim Horton's, Gigi's Pizza and Kingswood Restaurants.
If you are looking to spend the night in Brantford, there is the Bodega Inn which is downtown on Dalhousie Street.
For some sports teams, their fans can become a little arrogant when they experience long runs of success, but that can't be said about the fans in Brantford. Having won six championships between 2008 and 2013, Red Sox supporters are proud of their team, but they are also very humble. They are very knowledgeable about their team and the league, and love to have conversations with out of town spectators.
Despite having the concession area outside of the ballpark, it is very easy to get around the stadium. There is also a section beside the main grandstand for those who are in a wheelchair. Getting to the stadium isn't too bad, but it can be a little tricky if you have never been to the stadium before, as you have to travel through the city to reach the park if you are coming down from the 403 or Highway 24.
Red Sox games are well attended, and if there are other games being played at the park, finding a parking space in the lot off Sherwood Drive can be a bit of a challenge, but you are able to park along the surrounding streets.
When you walk up to the stadium, there is no mistaking who the home team is, as they have the Red Sox name posted above the concession stand along with a list of their championship seasons. The concession area is outside of the ballpark, so you can pick up your food and drinks before purchasing your ticket for the game, which is just to the left of the counter. Once you pass the ticket area, they have booths set up where you can pick up programs, and there are also promotions for the kids in attendance.
One nice thing about Arnold Anderson is the main seating area behind home plate. Instead of bleachers, they have individual seats with back rests. These seats tend to be very popular and they are not assigned. There are also regular metal bleachers set up along the baselines next to the dugouts which offer an unobstructed view.
Taking in an IBL game is very affordable, and with the history of the Brantford Red Sox, it is a treat to take in a game. Tickets are $6 for adults and $5 for seniors, while kids 12 and under are free. Tickets can be purchased at the stadium prior to or during the game.
With the team's history, it's great to see how the Red Sox celebrate it. As soon as you walk up to the ballpark you notice the championships that the team has won over the last century. They also have several banners set up along the fence, just past the ticket counter, honoring former players who took to the field to represent Brantford.
Arnold Anderson has got to be one of the friendliest ballparks in Ontario. One person who often attends Red Sox games is Wayne Gretzky's dad, Walter, who might be the friendliest person you could meet. No matter who it is or how many people walk up to him, he is always willing to give an autograph, stand for a photo or talk about sports, especially when it comes to the Red Sox or hockey.
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