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Official Review by Mike Poirier, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
When looking at the history of baseball in Canada, the city of Guelph has left its mark. The current Guelph Royals of the Intercounty Baseball League can trace their roots as far back as 1861, when they were known as the Guelph Maple Leafs. The team played in various leagues, including the International Association for Professional Baseball Players, which rivaled the National League in 1877. Guelph then switched to the IBL in 1919 when the league formed, and has been a member club ever since.
The Royals play their home games at David E. Hastings Stadium, which opened in 1925. When you arrive at the ballpark, you are greeted with what looks like a large grey and blue warehouse in the middle of an older residential neighborhood. The front of the building also lists the team’s championship seasons since 1919. There is a single entrance to the stadium, which also has team merchandise. On the other side of the tall structure is the main grandstand, behind home plate. Some of the seats have backrests, and there is a small area for wheelchairs and strollers. The grandstand does have an overhang to shield fans from potential rain, and since it’s all aluminum siding, you get some great sounds from the field.
There are also two small bleachers on both foul lines, but there is no fence to separate fans from the play on the field. Prior to the start of the 2016 season, the Royals made changes to the outfield, as they removed the old chain link fence and replaced it with a six foot tall wooden fence, and gives the field a more classic feel.
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".
David E Hastings features a small concession area to the left of the main grandstand. They have your usual items like hot dogs, sausages, french fries, chips, candy and pop. If you do have a sweet tooth, they have a good variety of option when it comes to chocolate bars.
There are also several big trees that surround the concession stand which offers some great shade, but it also blocks your view of the field.
When you attend a game in Guelph, you feel like you are a part of the action. Sitting in the grandstand, you get the sounds of the game echoing around you due to the aluminum surface, and there is netting in front of you instead of a chain link fence. If you go along the baselines, there is nothing separating you from game. There is some open space for lawn chairs or standing, or you can use the small metal bleachers or picnic tables that are provided.
David E. Hastings is located in an older residential neighborhood, right next to Exhibition Park Arena. If you are looking to pick something up before the game, there is a convenience store located at the intersection of Division Street and Exhibition Street, but that's it for around the stadium. If you are willing to drive, there are several restaurants to choose from in downtown Guelph, which is about a five minute drive on Wyndham Street and includes The Works and McCabe's Irish Pub and Grill. Downtown Guelph is also a very scenic city, and well worth exploring if you have the time.
If you are looking for a place to stay, there are plenty of options along Woodlawn Road, including a Super 8, Hampton Inn and Suites, Holiday Inn and Comfort Inn. The hotels are all within a 10 minute drive to the ballpark. If you're willing to travel a little father, there is also a Days Inn and Best Western Plus near the University of Guelph which is about 15 minutes away from the stadium.
The Guelph Royals have a pretty solid fan base despite falling on some tough times in recent years. The team last won back to back championships in 2003 and 2004, and were forced to suspend operations in 2011 when the team was unable to reach an agreement with the city to use the field. If the Royals are able to make a run for another championship, David E. Hastings Stadium has the potential to be one of the loudest ballparks in the IBL.
Despite being located in an older neighborhood in Guelph, the old ballpark is fairly easy to get to, as it is centrally located within the city. Once you're at the field, you will have no issues getting around. There are several large trees which surround the playing area which provide some great shade, and some spectators tend to sit under the trees to take in a game. The grandstand is a little steep, so you will want to take your time going up and down the stairs.
Ticket prices are fairly average at David E. Hastings. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for seniors and students while kids 12 and under are free. With the great atmosphere and affordable prices, attending a game in Guelph is a great experience.
The ballpark used to be more batter friendly before the renovations were made in the outfield in the spring of 2016. They removed the old chain link fence which stood four feet tall and added a six foot tall wooden fence and extended the foul lines from 291 and 297 feet to 320 on both sides. With the history of the team, having the wooden fence makes for a classic feel when you attend a Royals game, and the scoreboard in right field is also clear and very easy to read, making it one of the better boards in the IBL.
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