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Official Review by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Legacy Park opened at the site of the Lehigh Baseball Field in April, 2015. The new ballpark is located on the Goodman Campus in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and is another one of those parks that is so small it lacks a real address, so your GPS can only get you very close. Like many smaller schools, the athletics facilities tend to be clustered together here, so you will find the diamond behind the Rauch Field House, next to the tennis courts not far from the track. If you can get to Goodman Drive you should be able to find the venue, eventually.
The baseball field underwent several renovations following the 2014 season. New is a synthetic infield combined with a natural grass outfield, along with larger dugouts, bullpens, and batting cages. New bleacher seating and a press box were added, along with netting behind home plate.
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Currently there is no concession stand, so you have to bring your own food and drinks if you want them, and many do. A number of fans sit or stand on the hill overlooking the park (behind the press box), and there is a real tailgating atmosphere there, including numerous food tables and coolers for beer.
Legacy Park is a decent place to see a game. Since it is so small, you can get really close to the action and clearly hear the crack of the bat and the shouts from the umpire. The attendance is enough to experience some good crowd noise. However, the facilities are admittedly still lacking. There are no concessions and all seats are metal bleachers (only some have chair back rails, which are at least painted in the team colors).
The Mountain Hawks compete in the Patriot League, which has been dominated by Bucknell for the last 25 years, and only has five baseball teams besides Lehigh (Army, Bucknell, Holy Cross, Lafayette, and Navy).
There aren't any restaurants close to the baseball field, which is a bummer since they don't sell food inside, so to find anything to eat you pretty much have to go downtown where there are several fast food and local places.
But the real jewel in Bethlehem, worth hanging out before or after the game, is the Apollo Grill, located on West Broad Street. For 15 years it has been voted the best restaurant in Lehigh Valley (pretty much every year since it opened). Reservations are suggested because it is so popular. A little on the pricey side, Apollo's offers a variety of sandwiches as well as seafood options, but also fancier entrees like pork, veal, and lamb. The atmosphere is pretty lively; the only downside is that wine and martinis are the only adult beverage options.
If you plan to stay the weekend, the main attraction in Bethlehem is the Sands Casino Resort, which opened in 2009 and added the hotel and an outlet mall in 2011. The resort complex includes nearly a dozen restaurants as well as 4 night clubs. Sands is the main hotel option in Bethlehem proper, so if that isn't your scene you may want to try nearby Allentown, which has several Hiltons, a Ramada, a Wingate by Wyndham, and a few off-brand lodging choices.
Lehigh draws a pretty good crowd for baseball games. The capacity is only 500, and the stands tend to get pretty full, so a lot of fans choose instead to watch from the hill behind the press box. You will see a long row of tables loaded with food up there, as well as several beer coolers hidden underneath. The crowd gets pretty raucous, more so even than the folks in the stands. A lot of fans in both areas wear Lehigh gear, and they loudly and proudly support their team and boo the bad guys.
The baseball field is hard to find because it doesn't have a real address. Though once you get to it, parking is easy to find. There are small lots all around the park, with plenty of space to accommodate the typical crowd size. The bathrooms are a little odd, however - there are plenty of them, but they are the inside-a-trailer type, not your usual free-standing option. Admittedly they are a step up from port-a-johns, so I guess they do the job, and at least they are clean and close to the stands!
Admission to Lehigh baseball games is free, as is parking. However, they don't have concessions here, which may be problematic for some. Nevertheless, the crowd is pretty solid, so that makes a visit to Legacy Park a lot of fun. If you can suck up the weird bathrooms and the lack of food and drink for a few hours (or haul in your own) it is probably a worthwhile trip. Bring your own food, and sit back and enjoy the spring baseball.
One point for the Sands Casino Resort - this provides a great additional reason (besides the baseball) to make the drive out to Bethlehem.
Another point for the tailgating on the hill - you rarely see this at baseball games, so it adds a nice bit of fun and uniqueness.
Legacy Park is a decent place to see a game, with a really good crowd, and a great opportunity to do some tailgating, which you can't do at a lot of other college baseball stadiums. The new ballpark also has even more upgrades on the way, including new dugouts and expanded seating, which may take some time to build but should still improve the experience; the venue should be worth another look in a few years.
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