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Official Review by Sean Rowland, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Since 1994, the Renegades have become a summer staple in the Hudson Valley region of New York State. Short season NY-Penn League teams only have 37 home games and fans make sure they fill "The Dutch" for each one of them. Although the ballpark is not anything special, the Renegades make up for it with a great selection of concessions and an interesting variety of promotions. The Goldklang Group owns the team and one of the owners is Mike Veeck, son of Bill who set the standard for bringing fans out with promotions. Despite the distractions, fans still have interest and passion for their team and the game.
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".
For a small stadium, The Dutch has an impressive variety of food packed into the partially exposed concourse behind the seating bowl. Eben's Eatery features three types of monster 1/2 lb. burgers ($8-$9), while another stand offered sausages and brats. If cholesterol-spiking foods aren't for you, there is a Healthy Hut with a surprising number of choices, like Veggie Burgers ($6), BLTs ($5.50) or Gluten-free Turkey Wraps ($6). Along with the normal ballpark usuals, other items included Sweet Potato Fries ($4.50), Pizza Hut ($3 per slice) and Fritos Chili Pies ($4.00). International flavor is provided by the Corona Cove towards the right foul pole with some Mexican food available. As for the sweet stuff, many varieties of ice cream fill that need, or can you stick to the healthy way and enjoy some really good Fruit Cups created by Edible Arrangements.
The Renegades took a little nook inside the concourse and turned it into a beer garden, complete with a small bar, standing tables and an HD TV if fans want to stop by and see how the Yankees or Mets are doing. This is where most of the beer is at the ballpark and there are about 10-15 varieties, including Captain Lawrence Pale Ale which is locally brewed in nearby Westchester County.
Amazingly, Dutchess Stadium was built in a mere 71 days. Though there are no discernible features to make this ballpark really stand out, it is still a fine place to watch a game, as long as you're sitting in the right sections. Setting the scene is a beautiful backdrop of towering trees just beyond the outfield wall. Along with the rolling hills behind the right corner of the outfield, it is a view that is serene and typical of the Hudson Valley. There is also some lovely landscaping in along the third base line.
The seating design is two levels, cut nearly in half by a rather wide walkway. The 100 seats are
comfortable and close, while the 200s provide a decent view and are somewhat comfortable red bucket seats. The 300s, however, are uncomfortable as they are bleachers set on aluminum. These are located next to the 200s near first and third base. Don't be fooled when looking at the seating chart as one would tend to think the last section of General Admission is bleacher only. If you prefer a more open setting, the Corona Cove along the first base line offers a view of the game, along with tables and umbrellas to eat and watch.
The ballpark is located in southern Dutchess County, smack dab in the middle of the Hudson Valley. It is close to the river in the Fishkill - Wappingers Falls part of the county. This part of the region does not have much to do and though there are several state parks within driving distance, outdoor recreation and attending a baseball game typically aren't done together. Across from the ballpark is a small plaza, and Leo's Pizzeria is a fine choice for a pre- or post-game meal. The pizzeria is attached to a restaurant and bar, as well. Other dining options are available on the other side of the river towards the Newburgh waterfront; however, the rest of that town is not really worth checking out.
Knowing all of the promotions and contests that go on here upon arrival, I was anticipating a distracted crowd that didn't show much interest in the game. But, I was pleasantly surprised to see the fans paying attention and cheering on the Renegades. Crowd noise after a triple and a home run was decent, and about half of the fans swayed their arms to Naughty by Nature's "Hip Hop Hooray" after each Hudson Valley run (old school right there). In addition, the Renegades were known to have a lot of annoying sound effects and constant activity during the action; however, at the game I attended, that stuff was never over the top. It was average for a minor league game, so that would be nice if they did indeed improve on that.
Stadium capacity at The Dutch is 4,494 and all through the entire 17 year existence of the franchise, attendance has been great. Averages through the years usually are at least 4,000 and the game I attended featured an over-capacity paid attendance. As far as actual people in the seats, I would say about 3/4ths of each section was filled. Overall, the Hudson Valley supports the Renegades well.
Dutchess Stadium is a cinch to get to as it is easily accessible from I-84. If you are coming from the north or south, I-87 (the New York State Thruway) intersects with I-84 about 5 miles before the ballpark exit, which is Route 9D. The parking lot is right off of 9D and in front of the ballpark. Unfortunately, they jam a lot of cars into this mostly gravel parking lot and that leads to issues exiting, especially during fireworks night. Outside of the parking lot gets backed up as well with Route 9D being a two-lane road.
Surprisingly, only one restroom was built for men (there are two for women), though it is larger than what you normally would see for this size of ballpark. The single restroom didn't create a problem though because with baseball there is never a rush to use the restrooms as it is typically spread out through the game.
I do believe that Dutchess Stadium and the Renegades are a nice experience and certainly worthy of a visit, though the lower ranking is more a reflection of the prices when compared to the market and level of baseball. Non-bleachered seats cost at least $10 and the lower level seats are at least $14. They also tack on another $2 for fireworks nights; hopefully, that does not become a growing trend. Parking is $5 and a program is $3. Meanwhile, concessions were a bit on the high side. Again, it is certainly an affordable event; however, the cost is more in line with what you would expect for a mid-sized city's Triple A team, not a rural, short-season "A" league team.
On one of the walls just outside the ballpark is the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame. The
owners created this hall of fame and have it on display at the home of each of the four teams they own. Each member has a Cooperstown-like plaque and I thought this was a great honor and idea for a truly underappreciated area of the sport. It's worth the few extra minutes to take a look at some of the people and their accomplishments.
Another point to the PA announcer, Rick Zolzer. Yes, he can be brash and insulting, but he made some quick-witted jokes during the game that had me occasionally chuckling. It was entertaining and he never took over the game to where it was just about him. I'm guessing he learned his lesson when he got kicked out of a game in 1995 for arguing with an umpire.
Member Review by ballparkreviews on Jul 20, 2012
Dutchess Stadium offers a horrible atmosphere for taking in a ballgame. There are incessant sound effects, families who have no interest in the game, and a PA announcer who thinks he is the entertainment. Besides that, Dutchess Stadium is a very basic ballpark with little to make it memorable. Check out my full review if you want to read more.
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