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Official Review by Brian O'Sullivan, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Established in 1978, the New York Collegiate Baseball League, formerly known as the Northeastern Collegiate Baseball League, has seen dozens of members over the course of the last three decades. With the formation of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League in 2011, the NYCBL has seen a rather dramatic shift in its membership in the last few years. The NYCBL has shifted its attention to smaller markets within the state of New York because of the recent changes.
The departure of a number of teams from the NYCBL caused the creation of two new teams in Syracuse, the Salt Cats and the Junior Chiefs, in 2011. The two teams share a stadium on the campus of Onondaga Community College. Though the facility is small, it is one of the nicer fields in the NYCBL and provides a comfortable experience to take in a game.
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 Onondaga Baseball Complex offers the basic options needed to enjoy watching the game at a reasonable price.
The complex has one main concession stand that is located directly behind the seating area. The only hot item available is hot dogs ($2), but the stand also sells chips ($1) and candy ($1). During the game, there is a staff member that roams around the seating area selling chips and candy as well.
The concession stand offers a few different Coke products ($1) as well as bottled water ($1). Since the complex is located on the campus of a community college, there is no sale of alcohol during games.
Getting a hot dog, chips, and a drink for under five dollars is a great combination that is sure to please any fan.
The Onondaga Baseball Complex is relatively new and offers comfortable seating options in a fairly small setting.
The main seating area at the complex is located directly behind home plate. On the main concourse, six rows of box-style seats are located in front of the press box and are fully covered. A few rows of steel bleachers are located below the box seats and run between the dugouts. A pair of bleachers is located behind each dugout as well. All of the seats are located close to the field and are elevated approximately ten feet off the playing surface. A digital scoreboard is located in right field, along with a view of a softball complex that looks nearly identical to the baseball complex. The playing field is all synthetic turf, except for the pitcher's mound, which is dirt.
The Junior Chiefs offer no in-game promotions or any activities on the field. The PA announcer is audible and does a good job of introducing the players. The play-by-play radio announcer can be heard throughout the entire seating area behind home plate, which helps give further insight into the players.
All of the seating at the complex is general admission. While all the seats offer great views of the field, the box seats located behind home plate are the most comfortable, especially since the other seats are steel bleachers.
The Onondaga Baseball Complex is located in a fairly residential neighborhood on the north end of the Onondaga Community College campus.
While the dining options are relatively limited directly around Onondaga Community College, downtown Syracuse, which is about five miles from the complex, offers some great grub. For an upscale twist on diner fare, Modern Malt offers classics, such as burgers, and more creative items, such as Tot-chos, which are nachos made with tater tots. Another option is Kelley's Bar & Restaurant, which is located a little bit closer to the complex.
Syracuse offers a variety of attractions as well. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is a great way to spend an afternoon seeing some unique animals. For a more mathematical attraction, the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology, or MOST, is a downtown favorite among both tourists and locals.
Downtown Syracuse has an ample amount of lodging choices. One of the best options is the Parkview Hotel. Even though the Parkview is slightly more expensive than some other choices, it offers a prime location and unparalleled accommodations.
With so many baseball teams located in upstate New York, it is understandable that the Syracuse Junior Chiefs have a tough time drawing fans.
The typical attendance at the complex is relatively small, with only a few dozen fans usually turning out for most games. Attendance in the entire NYCBL is struggling, especially since the introduction of the PGCBL. A majority of the fans that do come to the games seem to be host families or family members of the players.
A small number of fans can only produce so much noise. The fans in attendance are engaged in the game and know the proper times to cheer, but they do not come close to creating any sort of substantial noise.
The Onondaga Baseball Complex is easily accessible by car and is located only a few miles from the major interstates, including the New York State Thruway and I-81.
The only available public transportation to the complex is the SY-26 bus that runs from downtown Syracuse to Onondaga Community College. It is about a 40-minute ride to Syracuse on the bus because of the number of stops.
A large amount of free parking is located just steps away from the complex. There are no problems with traffic flow both before and after games because of the large parking lot.
The complex has one main gate of entry that also sells tickets. There is a ticket window set up at the gate, but the Junior Chiefs use a table just inside the gate instead. The ticket table also serves as a merchandise stand.
The Onondaga Baseball Complex has a wide concourse that provides great views of the field. Restrooms are located on the third base side and are kept clean. Handicapped accessibility throughout the park is not a problem because of the flat concourse and seating options available.
For anyone looking to spend a few hours watching baseball, a trip to a Junior Chiefs game is worth the cost.
All tickets for Junior Chiefs games cost $3, except for children 10 and under who are $1. For a family of four, $20 can get every family member in the door as well as a hot dog and a drink. The Onondaga Baseball Complex is a comfortable place to take in some baseball, especially for the cost of admission. While the atmosphere may not be great, it is hard to beat the prices offered by the Junior Chiefs.
The Onondaga Baseball Complex is a great venue for the NYCBL. Most of the venues in the league are older and more rundown, so the complex is a good change of pace from these other parks.
Taking in a Junior Chiefs or Salt Cats game at the Onondaga Baseball Complex is a pleasant way to spend an evening in Syracuse if the opportunity ever arises.
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325 S. Clinton St.
Syracuse, NY 13202
One Conservation Place
Syracuse, NY 13204