PNC Field, which was originally a huge hulking structure that opened as Lackawanna County Stadium, was almost completely rebuilt for the 2013 season. This came after a few years of legal wrangling between the team and the counties (Luzerne and Lackawanna), which were the ones who actually owned the team. In order to finance the cost of essentially rebuilding the park, the counties sold the team to Mandalay Baseball (who had been operating the team since 2007) and used the proceeds.
Besides the field and lower bowl, very little remains from the old park. While the old park was state of the art when it opened in 1989, nobody could have foreseen the building boom that was to come in the minor leagues during the 1990's which would make the place obsolete by the 2000's. Along with the new park came a new nickname for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise - a name the team contest resulted in the RailRiders being picked, but because the Porcupines names finished second it is featured prominently in the team's logo. Attendance had been dwindling ever since 2007 (when the Yankees first affiliated with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre franchise), so the rebuilt park will surely have a huge impact.
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There are two main concession stands (one on each side of the park) as well as various other food carts scattered throughout the wraparound concourse. The main concession stands serve up hot dogs (both jumbo and junior size), burgers, chicken sandwiches, sausage bites and fries. Combos are available for $7-$10, which allow you to get a hot dog or burger plus fries and a drink for one discounted price. If pizza is more your thing, Revello's has a stand which offers Sicilian style pizza - it is $4.75 for two cuts (slices). While I'm not usually a fan of pizza at ballparks, Revello's is quite good and I enjoy that it is Sicilian-style, which is not something usually found at a ballpark.
Other carts around the ballpark offer Mexican options (tacos, nachos supreme, walking tacos), Greek (lamb and chicken gyros), and BBQ (brisket, pulled pork, and pierogies). There is also a cart that supposedly offers potato pancakes, though it was closed on the night I attended a game.
Overall, the prices on concessions are quite reasonable - maybe a tick higher than at the old ballpark, but that's to be expected. Quality seemed quite good. I tried the Pierogie Pork sandwich ($7.50) from the Bent Buckle BBQ stand and was quite impressed. Also, I sampled a walking taco with brisket. While I enjoyed it, I would have preferred the chips to be plain tortilla rather than Doritos.
While the array of concessions is good at PNC Field, it is not quite as impressive as other AAA ballparks. One item missing is the cinnamon roasted nuts - I used to love how the smell of them would permeate the whole concourse at the old ballpark. Hopefully the team will bring them back at some point.
The atmosphere at the old park was always pretty laid back and it seems they have continued that trend in the renovated ballpark. While the team does employ a "Pinstripe Patrol", they are only seen a few times between innings and don't ruin the overall atmosphere. During the action, there is very little in the way of sound effects, so it feels pretty pure. The RailRiders have not one or two mascots, but three! Along with the return of Champ, there is also Quills (a porcupine) and a superhero inflatable mascot.
PNC Field features a 360-degree concourse, which is a must now at minor league parks as it allows the fans more places to roam and relieves a lot of the congestion. The outfield area is quite spacious as it features two grassy berms and a kid's play area. I especially like the area of the outfield concourse in right field that features some trees - it gives you the feeling of walking through a park. Also, it is great how the ballpark almost feels like it was carved out of the mountain as there are large rocks along much of the outfield concourse.
One great aspect at the old park and which was kept intact at the new park is the steepness of the lower seating bowl. It allows for unobstructed views and seats which are closer to the action. New seating areas include a bleacher section in the right field corner (beware, the sun can be wicked there at night), the RailHouse seating behind the right field fence (this is bar-style seating with counters), and a large picnic area in the left field corner. Along the concourse, the team has included many counters which fans can stand while enjoying their food or beverage - this is something that more ballparks need to include.
One of the design flaws of the ballpark is the placement of the press box on the concourse level. This creates a "dark spot" behind the home plate as fans are unable to view the field from there. It is not clear to this reviewer why the press box was not built on the suite level, like it is at the majority of other parks.
PNC Field is set at the base of Montage Mountain, but there really is nothing within walking distance. Glenmaura National Blvd runs above the ballpark and features some shopping, restaurants, and a movie theatre. It is actually worth a drive up this road as it provides a great view of the ballpark. For restaurants, there is Johnny Rockets, Panera Bread, and Ruby Tuesday's in the area. Downtown Scranton, which offers more dining and shopping options, is located just a few miles to the west of the ballpark.
As with any new (or in this cases extensively renovated) ballpark, you are going to have the fans that are just there to be seen or because it is the cool place to be. But I didn't get the impression that this was most fans at PNC Field. It seemed that the majority of fans were attentive to the game and there were even some very vocal fans, which is not always the norm at a minor league game. One of the theories for why attendance was so poor in recent years was because the team was a Yankees affiliate, which is why the team decided to change their name to the RailRiders. It is not clear the impact that this had, but during the 2013 season, attendance was up significantly.
PNC Field is very easy to find as it is located two minutes off of I-81. A large parking lot is located in front of the park, though apparently on nights with big crowds, they can run out space. There is no charge for parking, but they do a pretty poor job at parking the cars as they don't leave enough space in the rows between cars. This can make it tricky getting out after the game. Egress can also be very slow on nights when there are big crowds.
As part of the renovation, brand new bathrooms were constructed. There is one large men's and women's room on each side of the ballpark.
In a surprising move, the team actually lowered their ticket prices in their first season in the renovated park. The best seats (those behind home plate and the dugouts) are $12, while the rest of the reserved seats (past the bases down each line) are just $10. Bleachers tickets are $8 and berm seats are $7. Concession prices are about average, if not a bit below, most other AAA ballparks. Kudos to the team for providing free parking and free programs to the fans.
Free parking and free programs are always nice to see at a minor league ballpark. For the kids, there is a play area in center field - this is an ideal place for it as the kids don't need to worry about being hit by screaming liners. One other cool aspect is the concourse behind the left field fence that overlooks the bullpens. This seems to be a popular hangout for fans during the game as it allows them to get quite close to the players.
Overall the new PNC Field is a great improvement over the previous incarnation. It may not stack up to other recently constructed AAA ballparks (like Columbus and Allentown), but it is still a fine place to take in a ballgame.
**See more of Brian's reviews at BallparkReviews.com.
The new Yankee stadium is known to have all of the modern amenities; however, what is a game like at PNC Field, home of the Yankees AAA affiliate?
The Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees are the AAA affiliate for the New York Yankees and are located just 128 miles from their parent team. The SWB Yankees play in PNC Field, which was built in 1989. The Park holds 10,800 fans, although they rarely sell out.
The park setup itself is pretty basic, with 2 levels of seating with a suite/press box level in between. The lower box seats are green, while the seats well down the lines and in the upper deck are orange. They look to be recycled from an old major league field but I couldn't find any information on this. They are mislabeled in many places, leading to confusion over which seat is really yours.
For instance, my seat was in section 312, row D, seat 7, except the rows were labeled C, E then D and row "E" had the seats numbered 1, 2, 6, 4, 6, 4, 7. Thankfully they were only at around 30% capacity so I just went and sat by myself.
Been to three game here. Once I went in July. The weather was OK but a little cool. I went in April and froze. I went in May and froze. I like cold weather but Moosic is always about 20 degrees colder than any place around. The food is lousy, the fans disengaged, the ticket prices are awfully high for a AAA club and the crowds are predictably small. There are three things I like about this park. Parking is never a problem since the park is empty. The view of the stadium is interesting. The city of Scranton (home of Dunder Mifflin) may be a played out coal town but they have a surprising number of excellent ethnic restaurants.
Went yesterday (7/24/13) and saw the Toledo Mudhens play. Unfortunately, I never got up here prior to the renovation and the name change so I can't really judge it before and after, but prior to the renovation, it sounds like it left a lot to be desired.
Moosic, PA is a suburban/rural area in between the cities of Scranton and Wilkes Barre. There is not much to do in the immediate surrounding area--a couple hotels and a shopping center.
To me, it is a intimate stadium and I like that. The best minor league stadium I've been to is Hagerstown because all the seats are right against the field and it's an older ballpark. PNC Field looks very simple too albeit modern. There's not a bad seat in the house. I was looking on Yelp and TripAdvisor and a lot of people's main gripes came with the ticket prices. It cost $12 dollars for an infield box seat or seat in the outfield bar. That's great prices considering you're seeing the highest level of the minor leagues and future MLB players. I don't know how low people are expecting to pay, but I find $12 fair. The stadium is listed at over 10,000 seats, but it feels substantially smaller than that. Like I mentioned, it feels modern, but it doesn't feel like it has the uptightness and corproateness that Yankee Stadium has which is a plus.
The scenery leaves a lot to be desired. There's not much in the outfield, but you can see mountains. I think the concourse may be the best feature of the stadium, which is an easy walk, and it actually encourages you to, as noted by the Subway healthy walk mile markage posts throughout the stadium. In the outfield too, there are a number of things for kids to do, such as a bouncing gym, slide, pitch speed games, etc. so that's a nice bonus for families going to the games.
The food seems like a mediocre selection compared to other ballparks. They don't have all too much, just the typical fare, although them having local pizza (which was very good I might add) is nice. I also liked how they had a beer stand selling beers from within the Scranton/WB region. They had a Susquehanna Ale, a couple others and I had the Lions Head. Whenever I go to a ballpark and they have local brews, its always a plus in my book, because it gives a glimpse into what the locals drink yet gives out of towners a chance to try it too.
I would go back to PNC Field again and I'm sure I will. I live a little over two hours from there in Central New Jersey. It's not the best minor league park I've been too, but it's definitely not the worst either. It's a good place to go with your family and is a fun time. As a Mets fan, I can't stand the Yankees, but they definitely have a ballpark worth checking out in Moosic, PA.
4200 Birney Ave
Moosic, PA 18507
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