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Official Review by Mike Poirier, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Intercounty League Baseball is still fairly new to the city of Burlington, as the league only arrived at Nelson Park in 2011. The team moved down the QEW from Mississauga where they were known as the Twins for two seasons, and adopted the name Bandits in 2013.
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 concession area consists of two tents near a line of trees. The Bandits also have a small merchandise tent beside the concession, which has a wide selection of items.
Nelson Park has what you would expect at a ball game with hot dogs and pop, but they also provide other options including juice boxes, chips and other snacks which are kid friendly. They also cater to the adults by offering $5 beers and wine which is unique to the league.
Nelson Park is the smallest stadium in the IBL as it only fits a thousand spectators, but the third base line seating area may be one of the best sections in the league for viewing a game. There is no fence separating fans from the field of play, and those in the area use either the picnic tables provided, or they bring their own lawn chairs.
With the Bandits still trying to develop their brand, they do a great job with several in game promotions involving the kids, as they are able to run the bases and participate in games in between innings. The team also has a mascot which is rare in the IBL, and is a hit with the younger fans.
Despite the team's efforts, there is no escaping the small ballpark feel with the small grand stands and picnic tables along the third baseline. But it is nice that there is shade nearby to get a break from the sun on a hot and humid day. Being that it is a small stadium, you do feel like you are a part of the action, as Nelson Park has an intimate feel to it.
Nelson Park is located in a beautiful spot, as the ballpark is connected to a trail network which is great for a before or after game walk, and is fairly quiet and relaxing. If you want food before the game, there several restaurant options as you get off the highway at either Appleby Line or Walkers Line. Or you can browse downtown Burlington which is just ten minutes south, and has a wide variety of options.
More work needs to be done to get people to the games, but the fans they already have are very passionate about the Bandits. By having several promotions during the season, along with in game promotions, it really helps with making the fans feel like they are a part of the team, and they are also growing with the franchise as it moves forward.
Nelson Park is pretty easy to get to, and there is plenty of free parking. The only issue with the parking, is that it's behind the first base line, and foul balls are known to go into the parking lot. You may want to avoid parking close to the entrance.
Once you are inside the stadium is very easy to navigate, and there are several staff members around to help you out if you are having any issues trying to make your way around.
There is one entrance to the stadium, and you will immediately see the diamond as you walk towards the stands behind home plate. There is a structure for media and staff, and it does provide some shade while taking in the game.
Attending a Burlington Bandits game is very affordable for families. Tickets cost $7 for adults, $5 for students, with seniors and kids under 12 admitted for free. The Bandits do a very professional job in presenting the game, and they don't let the small setting stop them from going above and beyond for the fans.
Not having a fence to separate fans from the play along the third base line makes for a very unique and personal connection to game. If you want to be in this section, there are two picnic tables and open space for lawn chairs or blankets. The open section is also just feet away from the concession area and washroom which makes it even better.
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