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Official Review by Sean Rowland, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Rockland Boulders may have the nicest ballpark in the Can-Am League, but it is not without controversy. During the beginning stages of a project to bring a team and stadium to Rockland County (specifically, the Town of Ramapo), a public vote resulted in a majority rejecting a publicly financed ballpark. Despite this, town officials found loopholes by utilizing various types of bonds that bypassed the public vote. As protests and disagreement ensued, construction began and a state judge upheld the decision to build. By the time Provident Bank Park (now known as Palisades Credit Union Park) was complete in 2011, the entire cost ballooned to nearly $60 million. This exacerbated Ramapo’s financial problems and to add insult to injury, in 2016, town supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence was arrested as part of a federal indictment tied to the corruption involved with the stadium.
The off-field issues are certainly unfortunate and upsetting, however they should not completely detract from what so far has been a successful franchise that has done well to draw fans. The Boulders won the 2014 League Championship and they have a very nice facility that is a hit with local fans.
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 most popular and widely available items are the value baskets, which include an entree and fries for $7 - $9. It is a good deal that is highlighted by various types of burgers. The Boulder Burger may be on the smaller side relative to the name, but the topping combination of Cheddar Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion Rings and a special sauce is good. Chicken Sandwiches and Hot Dogs are the other offerings and these are all available A la Carte as well. Specialty stands can be found around the concourse and the most visible is one that sells Asian food, highlighted by Teriyaki and Sushi Rolls. Local product "Austin's Restaurant & Bar" features appetizers and bar food, while "Strikly Kosher" is occasionally open to serve. Ice Cream and Sweet Snacks can be found in multiple spots around the ballpark.
As for beverages, Coca-Cola is the provider and a regular soda goes for $4. Perhaps the best concession area in the ballpark is the Craft Beer Room, a very well decorated inset that serves 24oz brews for $8. Three of the products are made just for the Boulders: Krankee Yankee (IPA), Second Base Blonde (Ale) and Bottom 9 Brew (Ale). Captain Lawrence Brewing Company is another local place highlighted.
The introduction to Palisades Credit Union Park is not all that impressive, but one architectural feature foreshadows the wonderful touches inside. Stone columns near the main entrance are meant to reflect the rocky area terrain, and several stone designs can be found further inside. The seating bowl is not ideal as it stretches all the way down the lines with about 15 rows of green seats. However, what is great about this ballpark are all of the unique seating spaces. The Bridge Bar in the left field corner is framed by a stone bridge and underneath is a great bar space with countertop seating right at field level. The opposite corner also features an intriguing field-level option. Various terraced sections and bleachers around the walkable outfield make for great options, while toward the infield, the "Dugout of Dreams" gives fans the chance to watch the game from a dugout, right next to the Boulders. For the most scenic view in the stadium, seats on the first base side include a visual of nearby hills, though the setting sun may impede watching the game.
The scoreboard is of adequate size and the accompanying video is very clear. Breaks in play lead to the typical contests and the staff have a great asset with the extra long dugout. While there is no grassy area for kids to get out their energy, a large and well-maintained playground in the right field corner should do the trick. Other options include a batting cage open during a portion of the game and the B-Train, which takes kids on a ride around the outfield walkway. Both are great features for a ballpark that has a very high concentration of families attending.
The expansive town of Ramapo may be the governmental home for the ballpark, but the village of Pomona is the common location reference and mailing address. This location does not offer much for those coming to the game, aside from pleasant tree-filled scenery. To find a nearby restaurant, fans will have to drive a few miles to the Mount Ivy area and the strip along US-202. Visitors who do decide to spend the day in the area may want to check out West Point or Bear Mountain State Park, both of which are 30-50 minutes from the stadium.
Rockland County's suburban location is prime real estate to where many families within the New York City metro area settle. The high concentration of young families means that the core of attendees to Boulders games is made up of parents with their kids. This certainly makes for a distracted crowd and the game I attended featured a continuous flock of people milling around the park and not watching the field. There was also a constant chatter of general conversational noise throughout the game. The other large grouping of fans are 20-somethings that typically hang out in the Bridge Bar or around the Craft Brew Room. I also don't want to ignore the few diehards that I did see, who were keeping score and watching intently. Overall, Rockland is the best drawing team in the Can-Am and though the crowds aren't that great numbers-wise (anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 actual people per game), they are pretty good relative to the league.
One side note is the remarkable amount of cars tailgating in the parking lot. Having been to over 50 minor league and independent stadiums, this was a first for me and it was good to see everyone gathering together for food, drink and fun, turning the whole thing into an event.
The ballpark is nicely placed near Exit 12 on the Palisades Parkway and the close proximity of other major highways (including the New York State Thruway) makes it relatively easy to reach by car. Parking lots surround most of the stadium and the amount of spots is generally sufficient. Though with 1,300 spaces, a packed house may make parking tight. Lanes in the lots themselves vary with lots of turns and combined with two-lane entrance roads, traffic flow after a game (especially fireworks night) can be problematic. Those in the NYC Metro that rely on public transportation should be aware that there is no public transit option to reach the ballpark.
Inside the stadium, concourse width is adequate and the bathrooms are nice and large. Plenty of room all around makes for a generally comfortable inside.
The Boulders are slightly more expensive than their other Independent League counterparts as tickets cost $15 for most infield seats and $11 for all others. A dollar is added on for games with fireworks. Be careful if you decide to buy a ticket at the box office as taxes are stupidly not included in the price, so those working the counter need to handle change, thus slowing down the process. Parking also comes with a $5 price, which is a downside considering that free parking can be found at the home fields of nearby Sussex County, Somerset and New Jersey. The team not being part of an affiliation may turn off some people, but the majority come for the entertainment and in this regard, the Boulders produce a good experience. The stadium is a nice one to check out for the many ballpark travelers out there.
The highlight of this ballpark is the well-designed, unique seating areas and another section worth mentioning are the Loge Boxes. These are located behind the seating bowl and the stone-framed section is basically a mini-suite.
Many Minor League and Indy teams ignore franchise accomplishments, so it is nice to see the Boulders acknowledge theirs. Logos for the 2014 Can-Am championship can be found in several places, including on the Batter's Eye wall in center field.
Palisades Credit Union Park has a background story involving corruption and financial irresponsibility. While it is quite unfortunate that the public ends up as the loser, it should not be ignored that a fine ballpark is bringing in fans and many in the community are enjoying an evening watching the Boulders. Ballpark aficionados will enjoy the stadium and those throughout the Can-Am League will likely find this to be the nicest ballpark in the league.
Follow all of Sean's journeys at Stadium and Arena Visits.
Member Review by ballparkreviews
Amid controversy, Provident Bank Park finally opened in June of 2011. There had been protests and lawsuits from the Preserve Ramapo group from the day the project started, but ultimately these never slowed the progress of the ballpark construction. Now that it's been built, it seems like the opposition has quieted and the people in the area are beginning to embrace the ballpark. Located about 1 hour north of New York City, Provident Bank Park is located in affluent Rockland County (hence the name of the team).
During its inaugural season, the ballpark still had a somewhat unfinished feel, but this may be because it was rushed to completion. Hopefully by 2012 everything will be finished. Despite this, I was very impressed with what I saw during my visits in the summer of '11. It is easily the most impressive facility among those in the Can-Am League - in fact, it is probably too good for this low level independent league. So far, attendance has only been so-so, but this may be because the Boulders got a late start. It will be interesting to see how the team and ballpark progress in the coming years.
Member Review by ballparkreviews on Oct 06, 2015
Provident Bank Park opened in 2011 amid controversy as there had been protests and lawsuits from the Preserve Ramapo group from the day the project started, but ultimately these never slowed the progress of the ballpark construction. Now that it has been open for several years, it seems like the opposition has quieted and the people in the area have mostly embraced the ballpark. Located about one hour north of New York City, Provident Bank Park is situated in Pomona, part of the very affluent Rockland County (hence the name of the team).
Attendance has been solid (averaging around 3,000 per game each season), though it still has a feeling of being a bit empty on some nights (especially on weekdays). With so much disposable income in the area, it seems that attendance should be better than it is, but perhaps the level of play (Can-Am League) has turned some people off. Still, a night out at PBP is an extremely enjoyable experience especially compared to the closest alternative (Dutchess Stadium). The ballpark is by far the best in the league, even if the prices are a bit on the high side for minor league baseball. It would be great to see a higher (or affiliated) level of pro baseball here, but that does not appear to be in the works in the immediate future.
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