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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The pictures that accompany this review might give you the impression that this stadium is Oriole Park at Camden Yards since there is a large brick warehouse past the right field wall. But it is not that fine major league park. This is not even a minor league stadium, but a 3,400 seat park for little league baseball.
Cal and Billy Ripken have this baseball complex located next to Ripken Stadium (home of the Aberdeen IronBirds), where youth baseball tournaments are held throughout the spring and summer. Playing in a game here must be quite an experience for young kids. And family members of the players are treated to a pro level experience unlike many others.
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 concession stands are comparable to many minor league facilities and are better than most college baseball fields.
Hot dogs are $3, with chili added for another 50 cents. Cheeseburgers are $4.75. The Roma Sausage Sandwich is the most expensive item on the menu at $7, but is large for the money.
Regular sodas are $2.25. A 32 oz souvenir cup is available for $8 with refills for $2.
Breakfast items are sold until 10am for those early starting games.
The centerpiece of the Ripken Experience Complex is Cal Sr.'s Yard, which is home to the Cal Ripken Little League World Series, held in August of each year. It is a near-scale replica of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and even has a replica warehouse building which houses two hotels (Residence Inn Aberdeen and Courtyard Aberdeen).
There is no real neighborhood. The complex is located across I-95 from the rest of Aberdeen. The area around the stadium is ripe for development, but only Ripken Stadium, the youth fields, two hotels and some over-50 housing buildings are in the area.
One should wander around the rest of the youth baseball complex to see the replica baseball fields designed after Fenway, Yankee, Wrigley and Baltimore's own Memorial Stadium.
A short drive away back over I-95 is an abundance of restaurants and hotels. Aberdeen, home to the Army's massive Aberdeen Proving Grounds, is a center of business activity. Olive Tree (1005 Beards Hill Road) is a better version of a well-known Italian chain, while Mamie's Cafe with Love (939 Beards Hill Road) is an old-school Baltimore-style restaurant that offers free desserts with all meals. Super Chicken Rico (690 South Philadelphia Blvd,) is another choice with which you can't go wrong.
The fans are primarily family members. They pay a great deal of money to enter their teams into these events, so they take this very serious. The stadium will seldom be filled by these normal events so the noise level will not be too loud, but can be intense at times.
I-95 runs right next to the complex, which means that access from there and State Route 22 (a major road across the ever-growing Harford County) is strong. Long Drive (which was named before the stadium was there, surprisingly) is a four-lane road and is the only way into the stadium area. It never gets too busy, as it is directed by staff and local police. Parking is free and plentiful, although a bit busier when the IronBirds are in town.
Games are free to attend. Combined with the free plentiful parking, the value is great for the casual fan.
The warehouse replica past the right field walls serves as a great viewpoint for the complex, as well as having two hotels inside them.
Check to see if nearby Ripken Stadium has a game that day and your value gets even better.
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1005 Beards Hill Rd
Aberdeen, MD 21001
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830 Long Dr
Aberdeen, MD 21001