Like many cities in the industrial northeast, the City of Rochester boasts a long and proud baseball tradition. Professional baseball has been played here going well back into the late 1800s, and the city has hosted various incarnations of teams and nicknames in various leagues over the decades.
The Rochester Red Wings have been a mainstay of the International League. They are actually a community owned baseball team, with shareholders and a local board of directors. The fortunes of the franchise have been shepherded by the Silver family. The namesake stadium, Silver Stadium, was a neighborhood ballpark in use for a generation, until the franchise relocated to their new downtown ballpark, Frontier Field, in 1996. This venue is truly one of the jewels in all of AAA baseball.
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Concessions and the incredible variety and quality of food service is one of the main reasons to visit Frontier Field. They've got it all here. One of the local staples here is the White Hot, made by a local meat packing company, Zweigle's Sausage. It is a spicier version of the traditional hot dog. There is a specialty hot dog stand that prepares various combos of the favorite, with such toppings as home fries, pasta salad and barbecue sauce right on the dog.
There is a deli stand. There is a pasta stand. There is a crepes stand. The white angus beef and steak hoagie is to die for. The Red Osier roast beef is another regional staple.
Rohrbach Beers, a local brewing company, offers a selection of microbrews. The coffee stand has a big selection of flavored java. There's dessert crepes, and grilled to order pretzels. There's the flowering onion. Oh yeah, and these are just the interesting items...they also have the traditional ballpark fare of nachos, pizza and regular hot dogs. It's all good stuff.
Red Wings baseball is a community event. Everyone here seems to know each other. Fresh scrubbed and well dressed interns seem to be all over the place assisting fans. The General Manager, Dan Mason, is the consummate marketing guy, working the crowd and greeting customers in the stands.
The fan friendly, single concourse ballpark has a real sense of intimacy, with a splendid view of the downtown Rochester skyline, the Amtrak rail line running just beyond the right field wall, and trains shooting by at various times during the game.
If there is one deduction, it is the electronics and scoreboard presentation. In left field there is a line score board, in left center a video board which is so-so by today's standards, and in right center a one color dot matrix board listing player stats. It is visually scattered and somewhat unappealing.
Frontier Field is right downtown, and loft space, office and other residential development has provided some infill in recent years. Just beyond the left field corner is the corporate headquarters for Kodak, a very stately older skyscraper.
Restaurant options immediately adjacent to the ballpark are few, but a half mile across town, next to Blue Cross Arena, is Dinosaur BBQ, one of the most popular eateries downtown and definitely worth the trip. Nick Tahou's Hots nearby offers their signature "garbage plate", ham or hots on top of mac salad, always a good bet.
In the old days this was one passionate and rabid baseball city, but over the past decade and a half, the die hards have been subject to some awful baseball. The team divorced their long time parent, the Baltimore Orioles, after the O's pretty much decimated the AAA roster and the team became cellar dwellers in the International League. It hasn't been that much better since the Minnesota Twins have come in as the new parent club. They still draw pretty good support here, but the energy and passion is nowhere near what it used to be, and the old timers wax poetic about the rivalries that used to be when they battled nearby cities like Buffalo and Syracuse.
The stadium is right on the western edge of downtown, and easily accessible from the nearby expressways, including the I-490 and the Inner Loops which traverses the center core. There is ample surface parking on three sides of the stadium, a nearby ramp, and free street parking on evenings and weekends.
Ticket prices run from $6.50 to as high as $11.50, which in this day and age can be called a screaming bargain. Paid parking can be had for $5, although as earlier mentioned, there is also free street parking available in ample supply for those wishing to walk a couple blocks. Concession prices are reasonable, the standard hot dog $3, specialty dogs and sandwiches $5.50-$7.
The nicest touch here is the presence of a real live organ and organist. Fred Costello is the long time organist for the Rochester Red Wings, and he is perched up in the press box directly above home plate. His musical interludes add a really unique flavor to the ballpark experience, and with canned music bumps the norm in today's modern ballpark, the organ is a largely forgotten but greatly appreciated throwback to baseball the way it used to be.
Cheap tickets, good friendly fans, decent baseball, excellent promotions, cheap parking, decent vendor pricing... worth every cent!
One of my favorite minor league parks! This place is all about the food. The variety is unmatched anywhere. Food is such a focus, there was a map of the different vendors waiting for us at our seat!. Love the live organist, who really was a focus at the game. A bit of other music thrown in made it fun. I would say having organ music right after a home run sure made the crowd seem subdued. Baseball City also put on a decent fireworks display after the game. The theme was boy bands this day. It was great ... until the little girl behind us asked why they were playing old people music!
I know I'm in the minority in not liking Frontier Field, but to me it just feels too big. The problem is that it was built as a dual use stadium (for baseball and soccer), so that is why the seating configuration is not the best. Too many seats are far from the action and there are not enough covered spots where fans can watch the game from. Also, it is missing a wraparound concourse, something which is found at almost all AAA ballparks nowadays. The best aspect of Frontier Field is the concessions. The variety and quality is probably the best I've ever encountered at a minor league ballpark.
For my full review of Frontier Field, check out my website : http://ballparkreviews.com/template2.php?in_name=Frontier%20Field&in_city=Rochester&in_state=New%20York
Great time. Awesome stadium.
99 Court St
Rochester, NY 14604
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