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Official Review by Jonah Berman, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
Situated on the banks of the Merrimack River, Edward A. LeLacheur Park, home of the Red Sox Class A affiliate Lowell Spinners, presents a truly American scene: the national pastime being played out with the backdrop of a historic American town, one that has risen and fallen with the ebbs and flows of industry. The mill towers hovering over the third base line are a constant reminder of the identity of the city, connecting the team, the park and the locale in a rare and harmonious fashion.
The Spinners, who have been in Lowell since 1996, and playing at Lelacheur Park since 1998, are named in homage to the city's history of cotton production. Lowell, which in the mid 1800's was the largest industrial complex in the country, was once home to 10,000 looms and produced more than 50,000 miles of cloth a year. While much of the industry has moved away and the character of the city has changed over time, Spinners baseball in Lowell offers a great, affordable experience, particularly for families with young kids.
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".
The food options at LeLacheur Park are mostly standard ballpark fare, with a few local and creative options mixed in. The Ballpark Grille stands, located on both the first and third base sides, offer Jumbo Dogs for $3, as well as steak and cheese sandwiches for $6.
At the Canaligator Cafe, which also has one location on each base line, you'll find $1.50 hot dogs, $4 chowder, and $10 lobster rolls (which is a pretty good price for this item). Fries, peanuts and pretzels all are available in the $3 range. One of the many affordable offerings is the Kid's Meal, which includes a hot dog, fountain drink, bag of chips and a kid's prize, all for $5.
Below section 113 is the Gator Pit, which opens 30 minutes after the first pitch and closes in the middle of the 5th inning. There you can find steak tips, chicken wings, ribs, macaroni salad, beans and corn. I went with combo #1, which for $13 will get you a main, two sides, and a 20 oz. soda. The helping of steak tips was very generous, enough to feed the biggest of appetites. The Gator Pit also features a Spinners year-by-year photo history.
Beer selection at the park is fair, a 20 oz. Heineken, Killian's or Sam Adams goes for $6.25, while the regular-sized Coors and Miller Lite are priced at $5.25. Corona and Mike's Hard Lemonade are available for $4.75.
As mentioned above, the Spinners offer a classic baseball environment. Like many minor league teams, there are promotions and contests on the field every half-inning, including a mini-car race around the warning track, the team mascot, Canaligator, racing a young challenger around the bases, and of course, since they're a Red-Sox affiliate, the singing of "Sweet Caroline" in the middle of the 8th inning.
The kids area, called "Swamp Land," opens 20 minutes before the first pitch and offers a variety of activities. The team has created a real community atmosphere, as many of the fans in my section seemed to know each other, either from their attendance at games or just as fellow residents of the town. All in all, it creates a friendly, collegial atmosphere, where one can choose to hone in on the game, enjoy the kid-friendly offerings, or have a little of both.
The area immediately surrounding LeLacheur field doesn't offer a huge range of pre- and post-game options, but you've got two great ones just a block away that more than suffice - and they're right next door to each other. Lowell Beer Works is part of the local Beer Works chain that has locations by Fenway Park and the Boston Garden. It shares a menu with the other locations, offering a range of burgers, sandwiches, salads, pizza and entrees. Clever naming abounds, with items such as the Fenway pizza (with pesto) and the Nor'Easter chicken sandwich (with Canadian bacon and cheddar). The fried pickles are an appetizer not to be missed. The beers are all brewed on site, and are named again with local flavor: Lowell Pale Ale, Spindle City Red, and Merrimack Golden are a few of the choices.
Right next door on Cabot Street is the Brewery Exchange, a huge bar and restaurant in an old mill building. The beers and food are fairly standard, but the brewery exchange features 11 pool tables (pool is free Sunday-Thursday), air hockey, darts, foosball, and TVs everywhere. So if you're looking for some pre- or post-game competition of your own, this is the spot.
Fans at the park are friendly and accommodating. With such a family focus, there is inevitably some attention pulled away from the on-field product. But that being said, there was still plenty of baseball talk surrounding me, including conversations about the fate of the big league club as well as discussions of which prospects were on their way up. You'll find a smattering of purists in the crowd, but more families and casual fans, as well as some students from neighboring UMass-Lowell.
The park is easily accessible by car from routes 95 and 3-N, and one can also take a commuter train from Boston that takes about 45-50 minutes. Parking is not an issue either as there's a lot directly across from the stadium that costs $5. Street parking can be found with some searching, but your best bet is the $5 lot - it's convenient and easy to get in and out of. Bathrooms are accessible on both sides of the park and are rarely crowded.
With the affordable price of tickets ($10 or less) plus the various meal deals at the park, you get more than your money's worth here. Throw in the fact that parking is cheap and the baseball experience is great, and a trip to LeLacheur Park is a win no matter how you look at it.
One nice feature of the park is that the food and beverage concourse is located above the stands rather than below, allowing you to watch the game while waiting in line. The photo gallery of past Spinners in the Gator Pit area reminds you of the number of successful players that have come through Lowell in the team's young history, including names like Buchholz and Ellsbury. And finally, the location of the park on the river with the mills looming in the background simply adds to the overall classic feeling of this park. The giant Hood milk jug from Fenway and the Red Sox retired numbers in right field add a nice reminder of the team's major league-affiliation.
LeLacheur Park is a particularly good option for Boston or New Hampshire families who understandably balk at the cost of taking their kids to Fenway. But it's also simply an overall high-quality baseball experience for any true fan.
Member Review by FuriousShepherd on Jan 23, 2012
Visited on July 14, 2011. We had been to Fenway earlier in the week and were heading back home from Acadia National Park. We had a perfect summer evening for baseball and the fans too advantage of it. The crowd was very large for a weeknight and the fans were very polite and happy to talk baseball. They knew their players which can be a challenge for an A level team since those players can advance so quickly. The food was good but not great and the prices were very reasonable. I'd love to visit again in the future. A very good value.
201 Cabot Street
Lowell, MA 01854
201 Cabot Street
Lowell, MA 01854
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30 Industrial Avenue
Lowell, MA 01852