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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There are six concession stands along the main concourse, each serving typical ballpark staples but also with a unique theme. For example, the Dog Pound has a number of different hot dogs, with the smaller variety at $2 and the jumbo version for $3.50. But what Canal Park is known for is its "Extreme Menu" which includes food items that are beyond the imagination of most fans. At the Dog Pound, there is 3 Dog Night ($7), which consists of a standard hot dog stuffed inside a bratwurst and then placed inside a kielbasa. Naturally a huge bun is required to hold this monstrosity, which is finished off with sauerkraut and mustard. It is probably too big for one normal person to complete, and you will endure stares as you wander the concourse with this in front of you.
If that is not enough, then try the 8th Wonder of the World Dog ($8), a full one-pound hot dog served with as many as 24 different toppings. A new item on the Extreme Menu in 2014 is Pineapple TeriyAKRON bowl, where a fresh pineapple is halved and hollowed out, then filled with a delicious mix of grilled chicken breast, diced pineapple and white rice before being drizzled with teriyaki sauce. It was voted #48 on MiLB.com's Food Fight.
Other concessions include the Sock Hop Ice Cream and Candy Shoppe for those with a sweet tooth, while Godfather's Kitchen is your stop when you have a hankering for a slice of pizza, calzone, or meatball sub.
Taters is for those who love different varieties of French fries and fried pickles, while the Bier Garten has a good selection of draft beers, highlighted by two great ballpark brews from Leinenkugel's - Summer Shandy and Sunset Wheat ($6.50). For folks who like to try local beers, the Ohio Brewing Company down the first baseline is worth a look, with four beers on tap. Non-alcoholic beverage options include Pepsi products ($3 and $4.50) and there is a designated driver program if you want a free one.
Down in the left field corner is another concession where you can find corn on the cob ($2), smoked turkey legs ($8), and a gigantic soft pretzel ($12). A tiki bar can be found in the right field corner. If you want to sit down and have a full meal before the game, a new restaurant called The Game is perfect for you, and it remains open during the game as well should there be a rain delay.
All in all, you'd be hard pressed not to find something to eat at Canal Park, which has some of the best food selections at any AA stadium. Come hungry!
I attended on two consecutive nights during a visit in 2014. The first saw a 2½-hour rain delay, while the second was rained out without a pitch being thrown. This naturally hurts the atmosphere, as I never saw a game in front of a full crowd. Before the game though, there is a nice buzz and I enjoyed wandering back and forth along the concourse. The team does very well in keeping fans entertained during rain delays, showing other games on the giant scoreboard, and playing songs and having other promotions.
All of the seats are blue plastic chairs with drink holders and good legroom. It is a very comfortable place to sit back and enjoy America's pastime. The one exception is right field where they have metal bleachers, and signs warning fans that they may be hot.
If you're able, bring along a radio to listen to the outstanding play-by-play of Jim Clark.
The Akron Civic Theatre provides opportunities for concerts, plays, movies, and other types of live performances, and is located just down the street.
There are a couple of bars very close to Canal Park. My recommendation goes to Barley House, located at the corner of State & Main. The food is pretty good and they are open both early and late (generally 11am-2am). Across the street from the main entrance is the Varsity Bar & Grill, which offers an assortment of pizza, ribs, burgers, sandwiches, and salads, and has good happy hour deals as well as giant beers for $3.
The club used to be the top draw in AA ball, but had started to decline lately. New ownership is doing all they can to change the experience and fans have responded. Despite waiting until 9:30 for the game that I attended in 2014, many stayed until the final pitch at midnight, spending over five hours at the ballpark. They average just over 5,000 fans per game, and those I saw there were enjoying the team's new nickname with plenty of hats and jerseys on display.
The park is downtown, just a few minutes north of I-76. You can find free street parking for all games except those on weekday afternoons, as meters are free on weekends and after 6pm on weekdays. Use common sense and be sure to look over the posted signs however. If you are more comfortable doing so, there are also several parking garages in the vicinity of Canal Park.
Once inside the park you'll find wide concourses and spacious bathrooms. The only problem with the access overall is that the concourse does not wrap around the entire stadium. The only place you could catch a home run ball (one of the great thrills in baseball) is in straightaway right field.
The top price for tickets is a very affordable $9. Kids and seniors get in for $8, and if you want one of those hot bleacher seats, then you only pay $5. The stadium rarely fills up and ushers are not checking, so buy the cheapie and sit where you want. Free parking certainly helps, so you can spend your money on affordable food and beer. Overall, you'll absolutely get what you pay for. Everything is just about the right price.
Before entering, have a look at the Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame, which has a separate entrance next to the main gates. It is still being put together and will take only a few minutes, but it is nice to see another baseball attraction being added.
Right field houses the children's area, where for $1 your kids can be endlessly entertained by the giant slide, pitching challenge, and dunk tank. I also liked that there was a coloring station when you entered the park, a good idea for a simple activity to keep the kids entertained.
The promotions and creativity associated with the new RubberDucks name are worth a point as well. One promotion worth noting was Doppelganger Night, where each RubberDuck was paired with a celebrity lookalike. Future Indian Francisco Lindor resembles none other than President Barack Obama!
It is great to see Canal Park thriving again. The team knows how to keep fans entertained but doesn't distract from the game, which happens too often at other minor league parks. Akron is less than an hour south of Cleveland, so if you happen to be visiting the Indians and Progressive Field, check the RubberDucks schedule too and make your way down to a great baseball experience.
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.
2939 S Arlington Rd
Akron, OH 44312