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Official Review by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Tucked away on the edge of the College of Holy Cross in Worcester, MA (Wussta’ as pronounced by New Englanders) between Interstate I-290, a football field and some basketball courts lies a hidden gem of a baseball field in Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field. The stadium opened in 1905 where the Holy Cross Crusaders baseball team began and continues to play. In 2005, when the Worcester Tornadoes made it their home as well, the name was changed (from Fitton Field to Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field) and the seating, lighting, and other features of the stadium were upgraded.
The Tornadoes play in the independent Can-Am League (Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball). This 2012 season, the Can-Am League has 5 teams and will play an inter-league schedule with the American Association League, providing fans the ability to follow new players in both leagues.
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 selection is your average ballpark fare: Hamburgers, hot dogs, philly cheese steak, chicken tenders, onion rings, Italian sausage, nachos, and pizza ranging from $3.50 - $6.25. Snacks include chips, peanuts, popcorn, ice cream, cracker jacks, etc. There is a Fried Dough ($6) stand.
There are several local beer options including a Blueberry Beer ($5.25 - 12 oz can) as well as a draft Green Monsta IPA, which is fabulous if you like hoppy beer ($5.50 16 oz cup) provided by the Wachusett Brewing Co. One disappointment was they ran out of the Green Monsta by the 3rd inning. How sad. There is also local Narragansett beer provided ($4.75 16 oz can) as well as your traditional domestic beers.
The field is in perfect condition: green, green grass - I just wanted to take my sneakers off and walk the field.
Nets go from the end of the first base dugout to the end of the third base dugout so if you want to watch the game free of net obstruction, choose section L (third base side - home team) or section D (first base side - visiting team).
There are select moments in the game the music is played and the volume level is perfect. Many other teams/baseball organizations need to take notice of how the Tornadoes use music to their advantage. It's mostly music/noise free while the pitcher and batter are facing each other and one can be at peace and hear the comments from fans in the stands (and from coaches/players on the field). Some music is played between player at-bats and between innings which keeps the fans involved.
There are promotional events between each half inning which entertains the fan base but does not dominate the between inning time.
There are no pubs or restaurants within walking distance (1/2 mile) of the stadium. There are, however, several places to visit within a 5 minute drive. Two recommended to me are: Brew City which offers 155 beers with 40 varieties on tap and The Perfect Game which is another sports bar venue.
Also recommended in Worcester is the Higgins Armory Museum, the only museum in the western hemisphere solely dedicated to arms, armor, and art.
Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field is located on the edge of the College of Holy Cross with its grand trees, green grass, and a 174-acre hillside campus with beautiful landscaping. If you get a chance, go ahead and stroll or drive through the campus for a view.
There were not many fans this Monday evening. There was a fantastic banter/dialogue between the fans and the visiting 3rd base coach this game (Ed Ott - catcher for the Pirates and Angels from 1974-1981) at this game.
It's an easy entry and exit to and from the stadium as it is right off the I-290 interstate. One can park in the garage. It was free of charge for the Tornadoes game I attended (website says $5 charge-perhaps for Crusaders football or baseball).
There is one set of restrooms for each gender behind the home plate area. Plenty of stalls available and it is clean and flood free.
I did not notice public transportation but after doing research there are some bus services available from the Worcester Regional Transit Authority. As usual, as a visitor to Worcester (Wussta'), I am unable to read / figure out the public transit options.
$10 for tickets behind 3rd base dugout (we moved one section over to be beyond the nets); $5.25 for a local beer; $4.00 - $6.00 for food; free parking.
The Tornadoes have promotion options including Two For Tuesdays (even on a Thursday), fireworks night, group events, and etc.
The beautiful green field, the banter between fans and Ed Ott and other field coaches, hat pins in the souvenir shop, pocket schedules available, local beer selection (only 1/2 point because they ran out), a peaceful, none music/noise-filled evening of baseball - one that lets you just enjoy the game and the banter of the fans and those on the field (2 points).
Come on Worcester (Wussta')! You've got a great ballpark and an organization that makes watching a game enjoyable at a reasonable price. Go out and support your Tornadoes.
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