The capital region of New York state (Troy, Albany, and Schenectady) has been home to various minor league baseball during the 20th century, but the debut of Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in 2002 has made an impact in the area. The team set attendance records on an annual basis between 2004-2012 and has been one of the better draws in the New York Penn League (NYPL). The home of the Single-A Tri-City ValleyCats seats 4,500 people and is located on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College in Troy.
The stadium design is not spectacular and follows similar patterns of other ballparks built at the time; however its colors of sand brown and tan stray away from the obligatory hunter green and brick red found in many other facilities.There are many wonderful spots inside the stadium that include grass berm seats in right field, picnic area and seats behind the left field wall, underneath the scoreboard, the tiki bar area on the third base line, and the Brown’s Brewing Company bar area on the first base line.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There is a myriad of delicious tasting menu items throughout the ballpark that start with the locally made Helmbold hot dogs for only $2.50. However, there is much more from burritos, wood fired pizza, grilled sausages, corn beef and pastrami sandwiches, and chicken spiedies. There is something for everyone and it is worthwhile to walk around the concourse before making a selection.
Buddy's is situated at the picnic pavilion on the first base line and offers some of the park's' best food including angus burgers, beef and chicken kabobs, sloppy joes, and a Souther Tier delicacy chicken spiedies. The salted potatoes are a bargain at $2.50 and the rest of the options range between $5.50 to $7.50. The food is freshly prepared, grilled, and delicious.
Vamos Tacos and Louie's LF are two other spots that are worth grabbing a bite down the third base line. You can create your own taco, burrito, or burrito bowl with your choice of chicken or steak and numerous toppings. The kids might enjoy eating nachos out of a baseball helmet and it is perfect for sharing. At Louie's the wood fired pizza and pulled pork sandwiches are the main attraction; the crowd and aroma should be enough to know that it is a favorite among ballpark customers.
One of the highlights of stadium is the Brown's Brewing Company stand on the first base line that offers locally crafted beer for only $6 a healthy pint. The stand is made to look like a bar with table top seating, friendly servers, and a few more tables to enjoy some of the great food at the ballpark. The cherry raspberry ale, pale ale, cream ale, and Tomhannock pilsner are a few of the draft selections at the stadium.
Another popular area for adults is the tiki hut on the first base line that features Budweiser beers and the brand's lemon and mango-rita line of alcoholic beverages. The stadium also features Miller Lite, Magic Hat, Labatt and Coors products. It is a 21-year-old and only crowd and offers a few stools to watch the game from inside the straw laced hut.
If you are craving something sweet, enjoy a waffle cone, funnel cake, sno cones, smoothies, cotton candy, fried dough sundaes, and kettle corn. The concession stand choices are also neatly highlighted in the game day programs and team yearbook.
Before the game, fans clamor around local proprietors offering free samples of products, and one of the club's mascots, Sammy Baseball, an Uncle Sam character who walks around on stilts is there to pose for photos. There is not a grand entrance to the stadium, but you are in the middle of a promising night of entertainment. The smell of food and the cacophony of sounds strikes up your senses that you are somewhere special.
The team employs various methods of fan interaction during the game that include name that tune, dance-offs, and finishing song lyrics. There is also a money machine that offer fans a chance to jump and collect a few bucks. In 2015, the team introduced loaded tickets where fans can load dollar amounts onto their ticket to use at concession stands, kiosks, and gift shop.
There are also more than one mascot that can be spotted at the ballgame; most notably is Southpaw, the team's official leader. However, there is also Pappy Southpaw, Zoggy, Spiedie, Ribbie, and Rowdy "the Rally" Rat - formerly of the local American Hockey League team the Albany River Rats. There are also a couple of races that feature a contest between Ketchup, Mustard, and Relish topped hot dogs and a new twist on mayoral races. Mayor Sheehan (Albany), McCarthy (Schenectady), and Rosamilia (Troy) battle it out on the field in between innings.
SouthPaw's Den is the official gift shop near the main entrance and features a great collection of official team merchandise and a nice mural to the history of baseball in the region. There is grass berm seating beyond the outfield walls and oddly placed seats that have found a niche market underneath the scoreboard in right field.
The ballpark is located on the campus of a community college. However, there are a few great restaurants in Troy. Forty-One Sports Bar and Route 66 Pub & Eatery are two great choices. The Waterfront Farmer's Market is worth a visit on Saturdays from May to October. The best hotel options might be in Albany where you can check in to the Hampton Inn, Staybridge Suites, and Hilton Garden Inn. There are various motels and hotels in the capital district that should suit anyone's budget.
The fans at Bruno Stadium are among the friendliest in sports. There are quite a few friendly conversations about the team and baseball in general that can be heard in the stands. Fortunately, many in attendance are keen on the game throughout the nine innings of play . Many in attendance enjoy the game of baseball, but also revel in a night out with great food, spirits, and friends.
The parking is free and there are lots located at both the first and third base sides of the stadium, and additional lots on the campus across the street (Route 4). While inside the stadium, the single concourse almost wraps around the the field; however, there is plenty of room to maneuver-even through the popular Thursday and Firework nights. Bathrooms are located throughout the main concourse and provide easy in and out access for patrons.
The ValleyCats employ the popular advance ticket sale option that saves you a $1.25 for all three seating areas at the ballpark. If you are able to purchase a ticket ahead of time, you can grab a premium box seat for $10.75, a reserved box seat for $8.75, and a grandstand seat for an unbelievable $5.75. Even if you add the extra buck and quarter, it is still an amazing price point for minor league baseball. The great food, drinks, atmosphere is well worth the price of admission to "The Joe."
One extra point for the team yearbook that is sold at the stadium. It is full of information from upcoming promotions, food menu guide, featured articles, and player profiles. A great hand held guide to have while planning a future visit.
A second extra point for the friendly ushers and staff at the game. From food servers, interns, ushers, and anyone else from the team helps to add to the welcome in the ballpark.They all have a story to tell about the area and they made my visit one of the better experiences in recent memories.
Another extra point for the amazing food at the ballpark. Salted potatoes, chicken and beef kabobs, chicken spiedies, wood fired pizza, burrito bowls, and sausage and peppers sandwiches are among the delicacies to enjoy while watching the ValleyCats.
One final extra point for the presence of Brown's Brewing Company. Having a local craft brewing company at your ballpark is not unique; however, charging $6 is rather generous for a sporting event. The small bar stand features eight different varieties and friendly servers.
I did not know what to expect from visiting "The Joe," but it was one of my best experiences at a minor league baseball stadium. The stadium design, food and beverage, and ticket prices make this ballpark a must visit to both a casual and a baseball fan.
Joseph L. Bruno Stadium is home to the Tri-City ValleyCats who are defending Champions in the Class A short season New York/Penn League. Fans in the Albany, Schenectady and Troy areas are fervent supporters of their team which celebrated their 10th Anniversary season in 2011. The team has much to offer fans who attend the game as it is one of the most entertaining experiences in baseball.
Since Joseph L. Bruno Stadium was opened in 2002, they have only had one professional tenant, the Tri-City ValleyCats. The ‘Cats moved in from Pittsfield, Ma and Wahconah Park, where they were the Mets’ affiliate for 12 seasons, before becoming a member of the Astros’ farm system in 2001 and being a member ever since. Prior to 1989 the team played in Little Falls, NY as the Little Falls Mets, where they won their first league title in 1984. The team has been a member of the New York-Penn League throughout its entire existence. The ValleyCats won their first title in 2010, but have lost in the NYPL championship three other times (2004, 2006, and 2012).
“The Joe” sits on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College, and is also the home park of the school’s baseball team. It is named for former New York State Senate Majority Leader, Joseph L. Bruno, as he helped secure funding needed to build the ballpark. The stadium also hosted the MAAC baseball tournament in 2012. Being able to hold 4,500 fans plus additional berm seating and luxury boxes, Bruno Stadium is generally in the upper half of the NYPL attendance ranks. Measuring 325 feet down the lines, and 400 feet to dead center, the Joe provides a good minor league experience.
The Tri-Cities encompasses an area of Upstate New York, which includes Albany, Schenectady and Troy. TheValleyCats play their games on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College, at the Joseph P. Bruno Stadium, otherwise known as “The Joe.” The team competes in the New York-Penn League and has been affiliated with the Houston Astros since 2001.
I enjoyed my time at The Joe. The food was oustanding, the beer was affordable, and the concessions spread out. There was an outstanding vibe throughout the game that included friendly fans and promotions. The highlights were Browns Brewing Company stand that sells beers for only $6 a pint, Leftfield Louie's grill that offers salted potatoes and spiedies, and the friendly staff,
This park follows the now-typical template, with a concourse on top of the seating bowl. The seats here extend almost all the way down to the foul lines. Unfortunately, the seats further down the line aren't angled towards the infield, so you end up looking towards center field if sitting there. My favorite spot to sit is on the Adirondack chairs on the berm in left field under the scoreboard. Nothing much here to make it stand out. It's a nice facility, but could be located just about anywhere and have the same experience.
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