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Official Review by Josh Oakes, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, North Carolina opened in 2005 and is home to the Greensboro Grasshoppers, the Class A affiliate of the Miami Marlins. This beautiful park has since played host to three ACC Baseball Tournaments (2010, 2012, 2014). The central location, coupled with the great atmosphere, beautiful sightlines, and plentiful food, makes NewBridge Bank Park a fan favorite. Proof of this came back on May 26, 2012, when 10,229 fans packed the park for the Group B matchup between UNC and NC State, setting the all-time attendance record for an ACC baseball game at the time.
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As per NCAA regulations, alcohol is not allowed in the stadium, but don't let that scare you away. NewBridge Bank Park provides a food selection that is above average and will do more than satisfy even the hungriest baseball fan. The three major concession stands along the main concourse are O. Henry's Corner, General Greene's Grille, and Cornwallis' Last Stand. Here you will find everything from the Pimento Cheese Bacon Burger ($7.50) at Cornwallis' Last Stand to a full pizza ($17) at General Greene's Grille to a gyro or steak and cheese pita (both $8) at O. Henry's Corner. In the end, what ballpark is complete without the quintessential stadium fare and once again, NewBridge Bank Park has you covered. The aforementioned stands also offer the footlong corn dog and Carolina Dog for $4.50 a piece, peanuts for $3.50, Cracker Jacks for $3, soft pretzels and popcorn for $4 a piece, and if you really like popcorn, go for the bottomless popcorn helmet, which is quite literally a large, green baseball helmet overflowing with popcorn. There are smaller, temporary stands dotted throughout the stadium selling kettle corn, lemonade, ice cream, cotton candy, snow cones, and even more popcorn. All of these stands are situated between third base and extend out past first; there are no concession stands at Natty's Hill, but hawkers will occasionally wander out there with various snacks.
Much like Calfee Park and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, NewBridge Bank Park has that good old baseball feel to it. The baseball enthusiasts out there know what I am talking about. There is nothing quite like watching college baseball in the warm, summer afternoon that only North Carolina can give. Pre-game involves the tail end of batting practice and the teams taking infield and outfield practice. Music plays over the PA system and the video board out in right field plays highlights from the season. Between innings, the staff at NewBridge Bank Park goes to work to keep the fans entertained with all sorts of games and giveaways. Most of them are fun, but they get old after a while. College baseball is different from the minors, in that the fans do not need all that extra noise to distract them from the game. NewBridge Bank Park is a minor league park, not a college park. Other than this small detail, the atmosphere here is wonderful. There are two general admission areas with grass hills where the kids can play while the parents sit at the tables above these areas. There is also a small playground above the first base line.
Greensboro is not big enough to be a big city, yet too large to be a small town. The result is plenty of parking and food without the big city traffic and prices. While Greensboro might not be as aesthetically-pleasing as Durham or Charlotte, the dining options are just as plentiful. Right across the road from center field is a fantastic Greek restaurant called Acropolis. The Acropolis was founded in 1967 and offers a wide variety of delicious Greek dishes and drinks. If they happen to be serving leg of lamb that day, do not pass it up. According to the owner and founder, "You will not find lamb like this unless you go to the Acropolis itself!" I have never been to the Acropolis in Greece, but I am inclined to believe her. Out behind the left field parking lot is a small bar called The Local House Bar, which is nothing more than a one-room shack with a fountain made from old washtubs out front. A little bit further down the road is the local favorite, Natty Greene's. With two locations, one in Greensboro and one in Durham, Natty Greene's is a brewery, bar, and restaurant. Also within walking distance of the stadium are Smith Street Diner and Undercurrent.
Crowd size can vary anywhere from somewhat small to a near sellout, but regardless of how large or small the crowd is, they are always loud and passionate when it comes to their team. After all, it takes a serious fan to drive 540 miles from Tallahassee, Florida to Greensboro, North Carolina. The distance does deter a good amount of fans from showing up, but this actually works out in the tournament's favor, as nearly all of the fans are 100 percent committed to their team. Expect to see plenty of Carolina blue throughout the tournament, as Chapel Hill is a mere 50 miles away. For UNC, NC State, and Duke fans, traveling is no big deal. However, it is no small task to traverse the 743 miles from Boston College. Crowd noise was not much of a factor due to the overall lack of fans, but the fans that did show up were there for the long haul.
NewBridge Bank Park is nowhere near any major highway. This forces fans to drive through the city and its suburbs, and can cause traffic to back up both before and after the games. There are a few official parking lots at the ballpark, which charge $4, and multiple churches and business offering parking for $5. The city of Greensboro has also been moving to create more free parking along the streets. In short, there is plenty of parking.
The main concourse is wide and open, with great sightlines of the action and large metal fans keeping the fans cool.
Overall, NewBridge Bank Park is a wonderful place to catch a game and a terrific host of the ACC Tournament. The staff and fans are friendly, the food selection in the stadium is plentiful and the quality is good, and the neighborhood offers plenty of affordable places to eat. All of this, combined with the comfortable ambiance, makes this place a great host for the ACC Tournament.
I did mention the food selection, right? The programs at the ACC Tournament are among the best I have ever seen at any level, and include pictures and info about the various schools and their stadiums, along with histories of the ACC. Instead of hanging a couple banners over the backstop, NewBridge Bank Park painted the entire brick backstop blue and painted the logo of each school on it, which was a nice touch. Behind the outfield wall in left center field, there is a hospitality tent for fans waiting for the next game. The tent itself is air-conditioned, with TV's showing the current game. One can enjoy hot dogs and burgers here, and, as the area is technically not in the stadium itself, alcohol is also available here.
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416 N Eugene St
Greensboro, NC 27401
327 Battleground Ave
Greensboro, NC 27401
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