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Official Review by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
When ARM & HAMMER Park (originally Waterfront Park) debuted in 1994, it ushered in an epoch of minor league ballparks in the state of New Jersey. The home of the Double-A Eastern League Trenton Thunder is a jewel of a facility that revived excitement back to the capital city and proved that the state was capable of hosting minor league baseball - its last venture were the Jersey City A’s playing in decrepit Roosevelt Stadium in 1978. Within seven years there would be seven more minor league stadiums constructed within the 8,729 square miles of the country’s most densely populated state.
The over abundance of baseball has not diminished the crowds at the 6,150-seat stadium located adjacent to the Delaware River. The Thunder continuously draw in the top half of the league. The $16.2 million structure set the standard for aesthetics and construction. Two other ballparks in the state, TD Bank Ballpark in Somerset and Campbell’s Field down the road in Camden, share similar designs to ARM & HAMMER Park. However, how does the grandaddy of New Jersey ballparks hold up to a 21st century crowd?
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There is quite an array of delicious delicacies at ARM & HAMMER Park. The main concession stand, Thunder Road Food Court, showcases traditional ballpark fare of hot dogs, burgers, nachos, and peanuts; however, there are also diverse selections of roast beef sandwiches, garden burgers, chicken caesar salad, and grilled chicken sandwiches.
Down the first base side is Fitch's Place, a portable stand offering hoagies and barbecue favorites including pulled pork, pulled chicken, and rib patty sandwiches. You can enjoy Morabito's tomato pies and Jersey Shore style slices. On the opposite side is the Waterfront Grille stand offering grilled sausage and brats, cheesesteaks, Thunderdogs, and Trenton's gift to the culinary world: pork roll. The processed meat with spices is a staple for breakfast, school lunches, and late night options at area diners. At the stadium you can enjoy it on a bun with melted cheese.
Another local favorite is Chickie's & Pete's crab fries - French fries sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning.
There is also a craft beer section in front of the press area that offers local beer varieties from Riverhorse, Flying Fish, and Kane Breweries. If you are looking to beat to heat, try either a frozen margarita or daiquiri.
On the healthier side is the Horizon Healthy Plate section offering gluten free items, salads, turkey burgers, and portobello mushroom sandwiches. This is definitely not your normal ballpark food, but there will be plenty of patrons who appreciate being able to enjoy a baseball game and eat healthy at the same time.
If you have a sweet tooth, customers should enjoy deep fried ice cream, Oreo churro bites, ice cream, water ice, and gelato.
Attending a game is still quite fun and there have been vast improvements to the park to enhance a visit that includes a modern 21 x 68 inch high definition video board in right field, cup holders on every seat, and an expanded picnic area. However, the main entrance to the stadium remains the same - a simply elegant design featuring a brick exterior and green canopy.
The team recently added giant photos above the suites on the interior showcasing former New York Yankees Derek Jeter and Andy Petitte when they played during rehab assignments at the ballpark among the pictures. Also included is the sign "Welcome to Thunder Country," a definite nice splash to make the ballpark stand out among other similar facilities across the state.
Boomer and Strike are the club's two mascots who can be seen throughout the game. Boomer is based off the team's original logo, while Strike is a thunder bolt. Both are very active and enjoyed by many kids in attendance. If you want to grab some merchandise, the team has a store located near the entrance, plus a few extra tables selling discounted items. There are many fantastic bargains with some great t-shirts selling for as low as $10.
The stadium seating area is split into two levels, but all of the concession stands are featured on the main concourse above the two seating levels.
There is a children's play area down the right field line. Also in this area is the Delaware River that may go unnoticed to many in attendance. It is sort of hidden behind the first base side of the facility. This is a shame due to the historical significance in United States history, but you can get the best look of the river from the right field corner.
The capital city of New Jersey has both its good and bad parts, and the area of the stadium is one of the nicer parts. Directly next to the stadium is Rho Restaurant, which also acts as a nightclub as the evening moves along.
Rozmaryn Restaurant, Amici Milano, and the Shrimp Boat Restaurant are three local favorites in the city. The New Jersey State Museum is located in downtown and offers rotating exhibits throughout the year. However, across the river and a few miles away is the town of Yardley, Pennsylvania. The small downtown offers a couple of great places: Vault Brewing Company and the Yardley Inn. Vault is located in an old bank that showcases many of the building's original banking features like vaults, receipts, teller windows, and thick doors.
The Wyndham Garden Inn, Hampton Inn and Suites, and Comfort Inn are just few of your choices for lodging in the area. There are quite a bit of options due to Trenton being located near major interstates of 195, 95, and US-1. Depending on your preference for hotel or motel, there are various options outside or inside the city of Trenton to spend the night.
They love their baseball in Trenton, as the team has been one of the better draws in the Eastern League. The average attendance has exceeded over 5,000 fans over the last decade, and has been the lone successful professional sports entity in a city where hockey, basketball and indoor football have been tried and failed on several occasions. This is the highest level of baseball in the state and the Thunder faithful not only value watching the game, but enjoy the excitement and atmosphere at the ballpark.
ARM & HAMMER Park sits along the Delaware River in downtown Trenton. It is not complicated to get to, and there are various signs directing motorists off of US-1 and Route 129, I-195 and from the NJ Turnpike, Route 295 and 29. The parking is a bargain at $3 in multiple lots around the stadium and are very well lighted and marked. Inside the stadium, the stands are split by a middle concourse, while the main concourse offers a multitude of both fixed and movable concession stands. The bathrooms are clean, easily accessible, and comfortable.
Tickets to a game will cost either $11 or $12 a seat in either the 100 or 200 levels. This is not a bad price when you consider the parent club is the New York Yankees. The single game prices are comparable with game day tickets at other venues in the state. You also never know who will be rehabbing or on their way to the Bronx, when you purchase a ticket to ARM & HAMMER Park.
One extra point for the updated and diverse selection of food inside the ballpark. The team does not rest on its laurels and looks for ways to improve the game day experience.
A final extra point for the amount of affordable team gear that is located on various tables inside the main concourse. It is hard not to pick up an inexpensive souvenir during your visit.
It is hard to believe that the Trenton Thunder have been playing baseball for over 20 seasons in New Jersey. It seems like only yesterday that the team arrived and spearheaded a movement towards ballpark construction in the state. However, the ballpark still stands out as a beauty and provides a highly enjoyable baseball experience. The stadium is kept up well, offers diverse menu items, and provides enough color to make the place pop.
Member Review by JVerlin
When you think "minor league baseball," you think family-friendly, intimate stadiums that bring the old-time feel to an increasingly modern game. From that standpoint, Mercer County Waterfront Park in Trenton succeeds immensely. A cozy yet modern faĂ§ade greets you both driving up and walking from the parking lot. Food vendors fill the concourse with a multitude of options, showcasing both cities just an hour from Trenton to Philadelphia and New York. While not the easiest place to get to, the Thunder are worth seeing more for the stadium than the on-field product.
Member Review by FuriousShepherd on Jan 24, 2012
Visited once for an AA All-Star game. The best thing about this place was the food. The fans, parking, between inning entertainment were all average. The stadium wasn't so great and the neighborhood was pretty lousy. They best part of the All-Star game was the Home Run Derby. Two local high school kids got to participate and both ended up in the top three with one of them winning it. Pretty impressive. Too bad I forgot the kid's name. He's a monster already!
Member Review by ballparkreviews on Aug 23, 2012
When Waterfront Park opened, it was considered one of the best minor league parks in the country. Some 18 years later, little has changed at the park, meaning it has not kept up with many newer parks in terms of amenities. While still a nice enough place to take in a game, the concourses tend to be crowded and the scoreboard/videoboard are desperately in need of an upgrade. The outside of the park still looks immaculate, but inside it is definitely looking a bit worn. With the team still a great draw, it is surprising that almost no improvements have been in recent years. Concessions are decent, but the variety isn't that great. I had a roast beef sandwich for $6 on a recent visit, which I though was reasonable. I've never had a problem with access, but I always get to the games an hour beforehand. Overall, Waterfront Park is just average and probably not a place you need to go out of your way to see.
Member Review by shamus170 on Sep 15, 2013
Over the last decade, the Trenton Thunder have become the class of the Eastern League, which is fitting for a team that is affiliated with the New York Yankees. The Thunder have made the playoffs seven of the last nine years and have taken home the league championship three times, including their most recent title in 2013. During that time, many Yankees (like Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez) have made rehab appearances in Trenton. The only home Thunder players have ever known was built in 1994 as Mercer County Waterfront Park (now known as Arm & Hammer Park), and it finally opened after several construction delays. It was an odd start for the franchise, as they spent many of their first years oddly affiliated with the Boston Red Sox, a team not particularly liked in the State Capital. Now, the team is in a good spot paired with the Yankees and racking up the wins. Their 6,000-plus seat ballpark is typical of many across the region built in the same era and it offers a decent experience.
17 East Front St
Trenton, NJ 08608
50 Riverview Plaza
Trenton, NJ 08611
925 N Olden Ave
Trenton, NJ 08638
600 Chestnut Ave
Trenton, NJ 08611
10 S Main St
Yardley, PA 19067
1 W Lafayette St
Trenton, NJ 08608
153 W Manor Way
Robbinsville, NJ 08691
7 S Pennsylvania Ave
Morrisville, PA 19067