Defying corporate naming that has infiltrated even the lowest minor leagues, the city-owned Canal Park takes its name from the Ohio and Erie Canal that runs beyond the outfield of the ballpark. Opened in 1997, the 9,097 capacity park is home to the Akron RubberDucks, who changed their name in 2013 (from the Aeros) to reflect the history of Akron's rubber industry. The RubberDucks have been the AA Eastern League affiliate of the nearby Cleveland Indians since 1989, when they were located in nearby Canton, Ohio, the decade before the opening of Canal Park.
While Canal Park may not be a league leader in any one category, it is definitely above average in nearly all important ways when evaluating a ballpark, providing a great environment to enjoy a game.
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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".
The food and drink discussion begins with the new The Game Grill & Bar located in the right field corner of the park. The Game is opened every day, regardless of baseball, but a sign on the street side of the restaurant indicates what meal they are serving and if there is a game that day. You can sit out on the patio on the right field walkway to watch batting practice while you eat, but you won't be allowed into the park (with your ticket) before the gates open outside. Beside serving breakfast and brunch, The Game delivers standard bar & grill fare (mostly with baseball or duck inspired names), with most entrees under $15 (except for some items on the "Extreme" menu or seafood and steak selections). A kids menu is available for the young ones.
The ballpark specific concessions are located along the main promenade above the seats. Godfather's Kitchen serves up hot dogs, Italian sausages, and several pizza options. Tater's dishes standard ballpark fare (hot dogs, chicken, and burgers, in various forms). The Dog Pound (predictably) specializes in nine types of hot dogs (including the "Three Dog Night," a kielbasa stuffed with a brat, stuffed with a hot dog, $9.75). The Biergarten serves up six sausages and dogs, and the Eddie's cart in right just grills up cheesesteaks made-to-order.
The Nice 2 Meat U stand in left field delves into "extreme dining," with a gut-busting Nice 2 Meat U Burger ($14 for a 1.75 lb. burger, stuffed with a hot dog, bacon, cheese, and onions) and Pineapple TerriyAKRON (an $11 concoction of teriyaki chicken in a pineapple bowl), as well as more conventional pierogies and turkey legs. The Sock Hop is all ice cream all the time, including floats such as the "Ugly Duckling" for adults only (a float made with stout beer, $9.75).
Personal tastes can differ. If you want a challenge, how can you pass up the Nice 2 Meat U offerings? My personal suggestion runs to the excellent Eddie's cheesesteaks ($9 foot long, $6 half), easily the best cheesesteak I've had west of Philly.
Beer prices are the same at all the concessions at the park: $5.50 for a 16 oz domestic draft, $6.50 for a premium draft, and $9.25 for a 32 oz domestic draft, $10.75 premium. Choices include the Budweiser family, Yuengling, Shocktop, Leinenkugel's, and the Ohio Brewing Company. The Tiki Bar expands this to include an eclectic selection of "ritas," from the traditional margarita, to the increasingly common Lime-a-rita, and the new-fangled Rass-ber-rita and Straw-ber-rita ($6).
I always tend for a local offering, so give one of the Ohio Brewing Company's products a try if you need a suggestion.
Canal Park is arranged around a main promenade that runs from right-center to left field. The walkway ends in the Tiki Terrace in right and the Fowl Territory picnic area in left. All seats are below the promenade, with the exception of the luxury boxes, which are stacked above from about first to third base (along with the press box). Those boxes are the only place out of the sun for afternoon games, though they provide some shade for evening games as the shadows get long.
There are three main entrances that open about an hour before game time (for those not in luxury boxes or season ticket holders): Buchtel Avenue, Canal Entrance, and State Street. Lines can get extensive on promotional days, so try to get there early, and avoid the main (Buchtel Ave) entrance if possible. The Diamond Boardwalk is open before game time to take you beyond third base to the actual Canal Park beyond the outfield, but the gate to the boardwalk gets closed before game time. Autograph seekers will want to be by the home first base dugout before and after the game.
The park has an asymmetrical outfield wall with nooks and corners that look out onto downtown Akron. The recently replaced (2013) hi-definition scoreboard in right field keeps fans up-to-date on the game, and an auxiliary side board in left provides additional info, along with ball-and-strike boards at the ends of the luxury boxes.
The on-field antics before the game and between innings are run by the triumvirate of Webster the duck, Orbit the cat, and the inflatable Homer the pigeon. Between inning entertainment isnclude the regular minor league contests, races, and quizzes, and post game includes toss-a-ball, fireworks, and running the bases (on scheduled days).
Canal Park is located across the street from the University of Akron in the heart of downtown Akron, a city seemingly in the middle of a renaissance. The old canal area is being renovated into parks and performance spaces, but the closed-out remnants of factories and manufacturing still loom in the area. A small park dedicated to canal workers, the Richard Howe House (and canal museum), and Locke 3 Park are all around the ballpark itself (not to mention the Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame -- see below).
Slightly further afield, families will appreciate the Akron Zoo and F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm. The more artistic-minded will enjoy the Stan Hywet Hall & Garden, the Akron Art Museum, and E.J. Thomas Hall. Those looking for more eclectic entertainment might enjoy the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the Akron Airship Historical Center. And, of course, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is a half hour down the road in Canton, Ohio.
Located in downtown by a university campus, it isn't surprising that there's a good deal of restaurants and bars a short distance from the park. Dining options within a few blocks include the Spaghetti Warehouse, Barley House, House of Hunan, Bricco, Cilantro (Thai), and the Roadhouse. 69 Taps, The Lounge, Brubaker's Pub, Paolo's, and the Lux will whet your whistle a short walk after the game.
But there are only a couple of hotel options downtown. The Ramada Plaza and Akron City Center Hotel are about three blocks from the park. The Tudor O'Neil House Bed & Breakfast is a little up 18 to the northwest, and large clusters of chain hotels are available in the northwest in "Akron-West," or south down 77 by the airport and conference center on the way to Canton.
There are some theories that being too close to a parent franchise can hurt minor-league attendance. However, with Cleveland a little more than a half an hour away, Akron manages to draw in the top third of the Eastern League, no doubt fuelled by the team's on-field success. While the RubberDucks name took some flak when announced, locals have clearly embraced the new moniker.
Minor league experiences are catered to locals and families and not necessarily the most hard-core baseball fans, but Akron faithful turn out in droves, and are particularly involved with the games themselves, and not necessarily just the between-inning entertainment.
Akron is located in northeast Ohio, and it is right on I-76 and I-77, and just south of I-80. State routes 8 and 59 both also serve the city. It is a 35-40 minute drive to Cleveland and Canton, two hours to Columbus and Pittsburgh, two hours to Toledo, three to Detroit, and 3 and a half to Buffalo, New York.
Plentiful parking is available in several municipal and private lots around the park, which will run you about $5. Street parking is metered during the week, but not on the weekend, so if you arrive early for a weekend game, see if you can grab a free street spot.
If you don't want to drive, the Akron METRO buses serve the ballpark quite well on routes 1, 4, 9, 10, 14, and 34 ($1.25 per ride, $2.50 for a one-day pass). Regional Greyhound buses are available and the Akron station is just down the street from the park, and the Akron-Canton Airport is down I-77 halfway between the two cities.
Canal Park has one large concourse at the top of the seating bowl that runs from left to right field behind home plate that allows access to all the regular seating areas. It is easy to walk around the crowd, but navigating in the seating bowl can be tricky as it lacks a walkway splitting up the seats.
ROI is a big selling point for most minor league baseball venues, and Akron certainly embraces that. Their seat pricing reflects this commitment, as every single regular Reserve Seat is $9 ($8 for Juniors & Seniors), with General Admission at $5. The new "Duck Row" just beyond third base in left field, delivers swivel seats and in-seat food and drink service for $17.
The Ducks also have a number of ticket plans to cut the cost of individual tickets. Season tickets get the price down to about $7.40 per game, and 10 and 20-game flex packs cut the per game price to $8 and $7.50, respectively. Group and luxury packages are also on offer. Group outings for 24 or more in the Tiki Terrace and Picnic Patio run for $6 or $7 per person (the latter if there are fireworks), with an optional $5 more per person to add a hot dog, chips, and drink. The same-sized groups who want an all-you-can-eat option can sit in the same areas for $20/$24 per person (fireworks again), and groups of 20 or more can reserve a luxury suite starting at $600 per game.
Food and drink prices are reasonable for the minors. Most of the non-extreme food and drink options are under $10, and the ones above that, you know what you're getting into. Average prices are $7 or under, so you can have a cost efficient night out at the park.
In addition to the restaurant in right field, there are a number of points of interest in the park. Accessible from the street is the Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame (free admission) that honors both the players and teams from the Akron area. A number of memorials dot the park, including the dedication plaque by the main entrance; the POW/MIA seat on the first base side; an odd memorial to fans Michael & Marie Batteiger, who apparently met at the park; and the team's championship banners line the wall by the foul line in right field.
Fan Assistance is located behind home plate to sign up for between inning games or pick up a program or scorecard.
Canal Park provides an excellent and cost effective venue to grab some food and watch a ballgame in a packed park.
Ohio has really become a hotbed of neighborhood ballparks. Canal Park is another example. Located in downtown Akron, and home to the AA Eastern League Aeros, Canal Park has hosted baseball since 1997. The club is fortunate to be affiliated with the nearby Cleveland Indians, and have been since 1989.
This is a mid-90s stadium that many cities have replicated: buillt in brick and in a downtown location. Regardless, it is a beautiful ballpark. It's nice to see that Canal Park led to development in the area and the Barley House is a decent place before the game. Also, loved how they built the restaurant (now Wing Warehouse) into the right-field corner and fans are able to eat there and watch the game. It's a shame how much of a drop there has been in the crowds. With something similar happening in Cleveland is it a coincidence or the economy? It would be interesting to find out from someone who lives in NE Ohio. The Aeros and the city do there part by making a game very affordable as parking is free on weekends and after 6 PM on the weekdays, plus the most expensive ticket to a game is $9.
Visited this park as part of our 2011 baseball trip that also had us to Detroit, Cleveland & Pittsburgh. I know that this park usually draws a nice crowd but it wasn't too crowded for a Friday night game with fireworks. Really enjoyed the food and the open stadium. You could see the field from everywhere. That's nice. Positives certainly outweigh the negatives here. The best thing about Canal Park: Sauerkraut Balls & 3 Dog Night!
* Cheap ticket prices. Paid $9 for seats about 15' from the dugout.
* Roomy seats with cup holders.
* All of the seats are close to the field.
* Open concourse.
* The luxury boxes look really nice.
* Decent food selection at reasonable prices.
* 3 Dog Night: Hot dog, brat, polish sausage & sauerkraut all on one bun for only $7.
* Sauerkraut Balls (deep-fried sauerkraut).
* The mascot, BirdZerk (a purple and green bird) was decent.
* The view of downtown is uninspiring.
* Tiny scoreboard.
* No video replays.
* No pitch speed display.
* Only one small pavilion for large groups.
* No wrap around concourse.
* No interesting team history displays.
* Creepy "superhero" and other mascots.
Bottom line: worth a trip.
I have been to Canal Park multiple times and it is one of the best minor league parks I have been too. Tickets are easy to get. Seats are comfortable with plenty of leg room and cup holders. Food is great with the different hot dogs which you can now get. They have really made it a family friendly atmosphere. The park is clean and well kept.
For the cost, it's a very nice ballpark. The food options are seemingly endless and the prices are fair. The new video board for 2013 adds a ton considering this is the biggest in the Eastern League where as their old one was tiny. For less than 10 dollars to sit right behind the dugout and watch 'AA' basebal,l is a value that is pretty tough to beat
I visited 4 minor league parks in 4 days and Akron was the worst of the bunch. I understand they have new management now and are in the midst of making changes to make the ballpark better, but nothing really stands out to make Akron a desirable stadium to visit. Seats were small and uncomfortable. Most of the ushers I talked to, or asked for advice weren't helpful, and really the only thing that made the trip to Akron worthwhile was the three dog nite with the kielbasa, brat and hot dog.
These days, Akron is most famous as the home of LeBron James, but it is also a sports destination during the summer, when the Akron RubberDucks host Eastern League competition at Canal Park. Opened in 1997 right in the middle of downtown, Canal Park was the pride of Akron, with the Aeros leading all of Double-A in attendance and becoming the first team at that level to draw a half-million fans in a single season. Since then it has aged well, helped recently by new ownership that bought the franchise in 2012 and rebranded them to the RubberDucks before the 2014 season.
The new name allows for more interesting promotions, including allowing rubber duckies to swim on the tarp during rain delays, playing the Rubber Ducky song, and relying on puns such as Quackron. The Rubber part of the name is no accident as Akron is known as the birthplace of tire and rubber companies such as Goodyear and Firestone. The team did receive a lot of national ridicule when the name was first announced but it has led to a renewed fan experience, which, along with some other additions, make a visit to Canal Park more than worthwhile. If you haven’t been lately, consider another trip to see the new team.
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