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Official Review by Drew van der Poel, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
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.
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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".
The pricing is extremely fair here. They have a quality version of your standard fare, as individual carts down either foul line provide hot dogs, brats, sausage sandwiches and the like. Hot dogs go for $2.25 and a sausage and peppers sandwich is $5.25, both fair prices. They also have your more typical concession booths, but these had longer lines. One thing to note is that the individual stands don't take credit cards, so make sure you have enough cash on hand.
Drafts are available for less than $5 for some domestic brews, and they have some specialty canned adult beverages available in the $5-$6 range. Overall the prices are considerably lower than at most professional sporting events, and the quality is also better.
Nestled on HVCC's campus, there is no imminent skyline, but there is a nice backdrop beyond the outfield wall. A large inflatable Uncle Sam (an homage to the man who inspired the character, a meat packer from Troy, NY) is the focal point, but there is also a restaurant and bar, Top of the Hill Bar & Grill, up on the hill behind left field. Overall there is a lot of greenery, which is aesthetically pleasing.
The first base side of the stadium gets way more sun, as the sun sets behind third base. A majority of the third base side will be in the shade by the first pitch for a 7pm start in mid-July. All of the seats are green plastic and they provide enough leg room for the average sized male. The seats are fine, as are the sightlines, and there's really no bad seat in the house as this is a small stadium. Down the right field line, the sections get smaller as they meet up with "The Perch", a patio area.
The ValleyCats dugout is on the first base side, with their bullpen beyond the left field wall. The visitors mirror this setup on the opposite side of the field. There are suites up high on the other side of the concourse, which is open to the field.
The scoreboard is adequate, although it fails to provide any replays and is kind of blurry at times, but this is single-A baseball. The mascot is Southpaw, a (valley) cat, and he keeps the kids entertained. The 'Cats also adopted former AHL Albany River Rats mascot, Rowdy the Rat, when the hockey team moved to Charlotte, and Albany's franchise went under a rebranding.
The ValleyCats are heavily involved in the community, as kids eat free at Capital District 99 Restaurant after a Tri-City win. They also have a number of promotions involving the local community.
Given that the stadium is on the campus of a Community College, there isn't much of a neighborhood to speak of. There are some chain restaurants on North Greenbush Road, which the campus is located off of, and a Chinese food place across the street in the Hudson Valley Plaza.
Given that food and drink isn't very expensive inside the stadium, I would recommend eating inside the ballpark.
Safety is not an issue, as school is out for the summer and everyone there is there for the game.
Less than a half hour from Troy, a beautiful state park that features a lake with a beach and swimming area. With plenty of hiking, volleyball and barbequing areas, it is good for people of all ages. It is nestled in the mountains and is only $6 to park for the day.
Fans turned out in good numbers for this 2013 Wednesday night game with fireworks. This region is the size of many areas that host a AAA baseball team, so the 'Cats are usually in the top half of the NYPL in attendance. Given that few fans have a true connection with the team, they aren't overly passionate. Even when the game is relatively boring and fans don't have much to cheer about, they still show their approval when the ValleyCats score or make a nice defensive play. It is warming to see a lot of youngsters at the game, and the rules being explained to them by their parents. It is a family first atmosphere at the Joe, which is a very good thing.
Parking is free and plentiful! That is an awesome component and helps make a game here more affordable. I would park away from the stadium, on the other side of North Drive, so that you can leave faster post-game. It is only a five minute walk from here. The stadium is in the southern outskirts of Troy, and is easily accessed from the city and nearby Albany.
The CDTA does run a couple of buses to the HVCC campus on the 85 and 224 line, but this doesn't appear to be a popular method of getting to a game.
The concourse is wide enough as there are no traffic jams, nor is there ever any wait for the bathrooms, which are very clean.
Getting into the stadium is effortless, and there are more open lines than not.
You can get tickets for less than $6 if you buy in advance. That's an incredibly good deal, and even the most expensive tickets are only $11.50 on game day. Factor in affordable quality food, and free parking, and this may be one of the least expensive professional sporting events in the country.
One extra point for the affordability, which I still can't get over.
One extra point for a large number of fans wearing ValleyCats gear at the ballpark.
And one extra point for the ability to buy a beer for less than five bucks at a professional sporting event in this day in age.
Member Review by puckhound2469
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.
100 Grafton Lakes State Park Way
Grafton, NY 12052