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Official Review by Brian O'Sullivan, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Located just a short drive from downtown Albany, the Albany Dutchmen are one of the 13 New York-based teams in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL). Bellizzi Field is part of the Christian Plumeri Sports Complex, which is owned by the College of Saint Rose. The Dutchmen are one of two baseball teams located in the Albany area, with the Tri-City ValleyCats, part of the New York-Penn League, based up the road in Troy, New York at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The Dutchmen have one main concession stand, located a few steps away from the stadium seating. The lines are reasonable throughout the game and the staff is friendly and efficient.
The food offered is typical ballpark fare, including hot dogs ($2), peanuts ($2.25), and a chicken sandwich ($4), just to name a few of the options. While the food is not exceptional, it is relatively popular among fans and the prices are reasonable.
The stand also offers an array of Coca-Cola products to go along with the food. Beer is sold at the merchandise stand, which is located right behind the seats. Before the game, the beer is two-for-one with a handful of options from which to select. Beer sales are relatively limited, especially with the number of families at the game.
Near the end of the game, the Dutchmen offer half priced concession items like pizza and hot dogs. This special is fairly typical as some of the regulars wait to get their food until this point.
Although Bellizzi Field is small, the Dutchmen make an attempt to keep the crowd entertained throughout the game.
All of the seats at Bellizzi Field are general admission steel bleachers with no backing and no cupholders. Some of the more frequent fans sit in the back row to lean up against the press box. Protective netting covers the entire seating area, which spans between the two dugouts.There is a digital scoreboard in left field, but the scorer has a tough time keeping it updated with every pitch. The only annoyance is the music, which is both too frequent and too loud, with the selection being limited to the current top 40 hits.
In between innings, there are some on-field promotions and other activities to keep fans entertained. Fan involvement, however, tends to be lacking as most fans do not pay much attention to what is occurring on the field. The most popular promotion among fans is the 50/50 raffle.
Poles that can partially obstruct some sightlines support the protective netting in front of the seats, but the poles are fairly easy to avoid. Since the seating area is contained, there really is not a bad seat in the park. All the seats are close to the field and even if you decide to sit in the last row, you will feel right in the action.
Bellizzi Field is relatively isolated because of its location in the Plumeri Sports Complex. Aside from the other fields located within the complex, there are only residential homes surrounding the field. It is nearly impossible to walk to a restaurant or hotel near the field.
If you are looking for a place to eat, downtown Albany is only a few miles away and offers an incredible amount of choice for nearly any palate. The New World Bistro Bar is a popular spot that is located only a half mile from the stadium. As for downtown, one of the best options is Druthers Brewing Company.
The best attractions near the ballpark are found in downtown Albany. Since Albany is the capital of New York, the State Capitol Building is a great place to see, especially with the free tours that are offered during the week. Albany also has the Albany Institute of History and Art, which provides a completely different, but just as interesting, attraction.
There are plenty of lodging options both inside and outside of Albany. While staying downtown is slightly more expensive, it provides a centralized location that makes it easy to get around town. The Holiday Inn Express Albany - Downtown is an economical downtown option that is located only a few miles from the ballpark.
While there are fans in the stands at Bellizzi Field, their engagement in the game is not great.
With its limited capacity, Bellizzi Field can begin to appear full with only a few hundred fans. It was Family Sunday on the evening I attended, so a lot of families with younger children were in attendance. Other than these families, most of the fans are either family members of players or host families. There are only a handful of fans there just to take in an evening of baseball.
The most vocal fans are family members, with little noise coming from the other fans. Most of the kids are eager to chase down foul balls because the team offers a reward for any returned balls to the merchandise tent.
One of the best aspects of Bellizzi Field is accessibility.
Public transportation is available to the field, with the number 6 bus going right from downtown Albany to Bellizzi Field in under 20 minutes.
If you are driving, the field is located right off of I-787 and is clearly labeled with plenty of signs. There is an ample amount of free parking located just steps from the stadium.
Once you find your way to Bellizzi Field, there is only one gate to enter the stadium where a small ticket booth is located.
There is ample room to wander inside the field with a wide concourse and other playing fields surrounding the ballpark. There is a plethora of different signs around the concourse describing both the Albany Dutchmen and the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. The main concourse area is located behind all the seating, so you cannot see the playing field while buying food or merchandise. Restrooms are available right next to the concession stand, which prevents any sort of congestion on the main concourse area. There are no problems getting around the field for anyone that needs assistance with mobility.
With ticket prices at $5 for adults and $3 for kids, it is hard to beat the price of admission for a Dutchmen game.
Since all seating is general admission, it is easy to find the perfect seats in the stands. The reasonable price of entry, in combination with the fairly low cost of concessions and free parking, makes for an inexpensive night out, whether it is alone or with family.
While the Dutchmen do make some attempts to provide more than just the game on the field, the promotions and stadium atmosphere are lacking the energy and charm that can be found at other summer collegiate stadiums.
A night out at Bellizzi Field is an affordable way to spend some time at a baseball game in an intimate environment. As with all the members of the PGCBL, attending a Dutchmen game is a great way to see the future baseball prospects while they are still in college. While there is nothing wrong with the atmosphere at Bellizzi Field, there is nothing special about the game day experience either. Though it is not worth a trip to Albany just to see the Dutchmen, it is a great way to pass an evening if you are ever in town.
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