The Lancaster Barnstormers play in the Atlantic League. They play in Clipper Magazine Stadium, which is located in Lancaster, PA. Details of attending a game are sparse on the team's website that hasn't been updated since before the 2010 season, so read along and see how my visit went.
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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 Barnstormers have a nice selection of food. The best food is located at The Carvery and featured food from Hess's Barbeque Catering. All of their platters are $8.50 and they offer BBQ chicken, pulled pork, beef brisket sandwich, turkey sandwich and ham sandwich platters. They also have a Caesar salad ($6) and a chicken Caesar salad ($7.50).
If you want more traditional ballpark food, go to the Ballpark Classics stand. The menu is simply huge so I'm not going to list it here, but it has over 30 items including combo meals. Another nice thing is season ticket holders get a 32oz cup that they could get filled with soda for just $1.50; a real nice gift considering it was $4.50 for the average fan for the same size soda.
For dessert, you will want to check out Auntie Anne's pretzels, especially the cinnamon sugar pretzel. They also have regular soft pretzels with both selling for $3.50.
The Barnstormers also offered beer, although the selection wasn't too big. It is $5.75 for a domestic draft beer and $6 for a premium draft beer. Bottled water is $3.25 and soda selections are Pepsi products.
If you look closely at the photos I took, you will notice that a good portion of the fans were more engaged to the person beside them than were into the game. I think this was mostly a product of the lack of atmosphere created by the team than an indictment on the fans themselves but either way, the atmosphere was one of the worst I experienced in my summer minor league ballpark tour.
There were some between innings contests as is standard for minor league baseball, but not a good variety or anything unique. Most of the between inning fun was taken up by calling bingo numbers for a group of about 15 people who were playing in the right field pavilion area. It would have been a lot more fun if it was baseball bingo being played by the entire stadium.
Lancaster is a rundown, dying town. There is a high percentage of crime and quite frankly it is easily one of the worst towns I have traveled to. Nearly every building around the ballpark was boarded up and shuttered with the exception of a few row houses. The neighborhood alone makes me recommend that you make sure you know where you are going to get in and out of town from the ballpark.
The fans that were really into the game were quite loud. It was just the fact that on a perfect night for baseball the park wasn't half full and only some of the fans were really into the game.
To be honest, if it wasn't for former Mayor Dick Scott, the ballpark and the team would not exist in Lancaster. In fact, despite the beautiful stadium, I don't see how the team will continue to be in Lancaster in 10-15 years unless the fans start to show up and the town makes a turnaround.
Easy to find off of the highway and free parking that was well lighted. I don't think you could ask for much more so nothing much to add here. Concourses were really wide for park size and things were easy to find except the ticket office which had the smallest, hardest to find sign I have ever seen.
Bathrooms were great.
The return on investment was a disappointment due to the cost to enter a park that was more than half empty with a poor atmosphere. It cost $8 for a general admission ticket and the general admission area was a few benches and a grassy hill in left field.
Probably would get a 1-star rating except the staff let me sit by myself in an empty section despite knowing I only had a general admission ticket.
One point for the soda refill option for season ticket holders. Another for the cool setup around right field that had a pedestrian walkway that carried you over the bumper car ride. It was a neat perspective to watch the families have fun. Two points for housing the Silverball Museum Arcade, a pinball hall of fame where you can actually play the best pinball machines of all-time. The museum is open during games but is probably best enjoyed by coming early and playing before the game. A ticket for the museum and the game is just $20 per person and group rates are available if you want to have a birthday party or gathering that includes access to the machines.
A beautiful park with great extra entertainment options that does not live up to its full potential due to a poor atmosphere, a ho-hum fan base and a poor, crime-riddled neighborhood. If you go for the park itself, then make a stop at Clipper Magazine Stadium, but if you go for the full experience, I suggest you skip out of this one.
This is a beautiful park in a crappy neighborhood of even crappier town. I think the biggest problem here that they there are better options for baseball fans in every direction. If you live south of town, Aberdeen is better. If you live west of Lancaster, go to Harrisburg. If you live east of town, you've got a great ballpark and cheesesteaks in Philly. North of the city? Head to Reading. The other big problem is ticket prices. They seemed way out of line for an independent league. The food was OK and parking was close.
There are some positives in the area. If you haven't been to Amish country, it will be an interesting trip. Visit Intercourse and enjoy seeing the horse-and-buggies. The Iron Hill Brewpub near Franklin & Marshall University are worth a visit if you like great beers. So is a trip north to Adamstown if you like antiques. These things boost the Extras rating up to 3 stars.
Went to a game here over the summer of 2011 while vacationing in the Amish Country. It was a last minute idea to fill a void on a half day trip. Got to park, early, before gates opened,went to see if any tickets were available. They only had sitting room only in the outfield grass area.
Not having a blanket or chairs with me I decided to go to a store near by to purchase a blanket or something. Not likely! There were no stores in walking distance and even if there was I would not feel comfortable walking through that neighborhood alone. I went back to the box office to buy those tickets after asking my wife and daughter if they minded sitting on the ground without a chair or blanket. I was in luck when I went back. The guy in rot of me was selling back his tickets. I bought them without hesitation. Great seats, third base side. Boy there is absolutely no shade in this ballpark at all. This was a late game also. Should have taken the outfielld grass area that was shaded by billboards. The have a playground area for the kids, small rides. Food was the average for ballparks. They did have a before game concert which you were able to actually go out onto the outfield and sit and dance.
If you like cows you'l like their mascot, Cylo. They had fireworks after the game which was awesome. Overall, it is a well maintained ballpark, staff was friendly and fans were behaved. Good time had by all.
I went to my first Barnstormers game on 9/15/12 vs. MD Blue Crabs. I've more or less ignored baseball for the last 15 years, but am on a hot streak of renewed interest this season. That being said, I've been to a bunch of games all over the place at various levels this season, but before that, not for a long time.
Food & Beverage: Seemed great. I'm a vegetarian, so I usually can't engage in much ballpark fair (the good stuff, anyways)...but I'm always on the look-out for things I can make my brother eat. He would be have been satisfied with the selections. The lines got a little long at times...but weren't the worst I've seen (MD Blue Crabs last season, yikes). A Diet Cola and Auntie Annie's pretzel did the trick for me, but carnivores would have plenty to eat.
Pros: The stadium is nice, clean, modern. It's a nice ballpark at which to see a game. The staff were great, and helpful. The ushers were made a good effort to control the riff-raff (see my 'fans' comments below).
Cons: I'm not an old man, but I'm going to sound like one...the interior sound system is WAY too loud, and incredibly obnoxious. Lots of super annoying sound bites that took me right out of the game (ex - Frosty, etc). Also, you don't have to blast something after every...single...pitch. It's okay to let it breathe a little... This definitely took me out of the game. I came to watch a baseball game, not listen to a morning zoo radio program.
Neighborhood/Access: It's in a city. It's not the best place, not the worst. Parking was free, but also a little confusing. As long as you plan ahead and get there a little early the first time you go, you'll be fine. I was a little late, so I had to park pretty far away, but it wasn't the end of the world, there were spaces available, and I did not feel unsafe walking between my car and the stadium.
Fans: Quantity, check. Quality, just awful. I'm generalizing...but I've never seen so much riff-raff at a game before. Teenage girls STANDING around in the seats chatting (ushers were pretty quick to break this kind of thing up), people turned around in their seats shouting at each other (probably due to the sound system) and not even watching the game, people shouting into cell phones from their seats, entirely too many kids too young to enjoy a baseball game, etc. I'm not sure why these folks came out, but it certainly wasn't to watch a baseball game. Bummer.
Return on Investment: Tickets were pretty cheap. Parking was free. I would say good return on investment.
Extras: Where was the mascot hiding for the first 4 innings of the game? I had to imagine my own...Barny the Amish Barn. Then Cylo almost ran me over on a scooter :). I did not receive any sort of program to get to know the team.
Conclusion: Other than the sound choices, it seems like the people running the stadium are doing a decent job of facilitating an enjoyable atmosphere. That being said, the 'fans' really crushed that enjoyment and made watching baseball incredibly difficult.
Even though I didn't have a great time, I would definitely give the Barnstormers another shot next season. Perhaps not going on a Saturday would weed out some of the non-core fans.
I first visited Clipper Magazine Stadium in its inaugural year (2005) and came away quite impressed. Upon a recent visit in 2012, however, I was not quite so impressed. It is still a nice enough ballpark, but it has some design flaws that can't really be corrected - like the concourses that are too tight the location of the press box on the concourse level. The concessions are quite good, but there seems to be an overall lack of stands. With large crowds, I would expect the lines to be very long. Clipper Magazine Stadium is still one of the better ballparks in the Atlantic League, but compared to some of the newer ballparks which have been built, it just doesn't stack up. For my full review, check out my website, www.ballparkreviews.com.
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