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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Baltimore Bohemians play in the United Soccer League’s Premier Development League (USLPDL), which is right below USL on the American Soccer Pyramid. Most USLPDL teams are made up of college-eligible players and play in a similar setup as many of the summer collegiate baseball leagues.
The team is owned by Louis Angelos, son of Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos. One has to wonder if he has aspirations to move the team to a higher level. The Bohemians have been in existence since 2012 and currently play their home games at Senator Bonvegna Field in the Canton neighborhood of Baltimore.
Senator Bonvegna Field is the fourth field the Bohemians have called home. Previously, they played at Harford County’s Cedar Lane Park, Loyola University Maryland’s Ridley Athletic Complex, and Calvert Hall College’s Paul Angelo Russo Stadium.
Coppermine Fieldhouse runs the operation of Senator Bonvegna Field as well as Du Burns Arena. Coppermine took over management of the arena in 2013 from Edwin F. Hale Sr., owner of the Baltimore Blast soccer team. The 650 seat facility was opened in 1991 and honors the first African-American Mayor of Baltimore City, Clarence H. "Du" Burns.
A variety of events have occurred at Du Burns Arena's turf field including arena football, indoor soccer, indoor lacrosse, professional wrestling, boxing, roller derby, and mixed martial arts. The Baltimore Bombers of the now defunct North American Lacrosse League played there in 2012. The arena is also site of the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame.
When management changed, the Blast moved their offices and training facilities out of Du Burns and into the Northeast Regional Recreation Center in Parkville, MD. Coppermine's management has not been without controversy as a 2013 scheduled event called "Touch of Flavor" was cancelled by them due to public uproar in the arena's Canton neighborhood. The event promised classes on bondage, role play and other sexual techniques. Hale’s management company had agreed to the event before Coppermine took possession of the facility.
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".
There is no food offered in the actual stadium. You have to exit the field, walk around the corner to a fenced in basketball court where a small food area is located.
The very limited menu has soda for $1 and $2. Beer and sangria is $4. There are also Chick-fil-A sandwiches for $4.50.
The field itself has recently been remodeled with synthetic sports turf. But outside of the playing field there really is only two rows of stone stands on one side of the field. The stone stands are also not perfectly parallel as they are further away from the field on one side.
There is still a decent atmosphere at Senator Bonvegna Field. With all fans at field level it can be hard to follow the game at times. But credit has to go to the extremely small fan supporter group for trying all they can to elicit excitement.
The existing sound system does a poor job of reaching fans at the far end of the field. A simple, but decent scoreboard is on one side of the field only.
Baltimore is a great metropolitan city, with many fun and exciting places to spend time both before and after a game.
The Canton neighborhood is vastly different than the blue collar area it was many years ago. O'Donnell Square is a couple blocks away and there are quite a few great food places located there including Nacho Mama's (2907 O'Donnell Street) and Dangerously Delicious Pies (2839 O'Donnell Street).
Right on the waterfront is Boathouse Canton (2809 Boston Street), which offers some great water views.
The Shops at Canton Crossing (3501 Boston Street) is a very suburban style shopping center close by. Although that alone is not real exciting, but it is home to the wonderful Mission BBQ (3701 Boston Street), which has some of the best barbecue in Maryland.
Further away from Canton one of my favorites is the Abbey Burger Bar, right near the Cross Street Market. The beer selection is good and they offer a dizzying array of burger choices, all that are likely to satisfy.
For slightly more upscale cuisine, a visit to the 1100-1200 blocks of North Charles Street is essential, where The Brewers Art and Sammy's Trattoria offer good food at decent prices.
Baltimore is home to many touristy attractions such as Harborplace, Fells Point and Fort McHenry. The American Visionary Art Museum on Key Highway is located on the way to Fort McHenry and should not be missed, although its unique collection will not be for everyone.
Even with the loud supporter group, there is just not enough support in the stands. If the Bohemians wish to move to a higher level, they need to find a fan base. One hopes that if they stay at one stadium long enough, they can grow their fan following.
Canton is east of downtown Baltimore. Access is pretty good since the Boston Street exit of I-95 is very close by.
There are plenty of parking on nearby streets as well as at Du Burns Arena and Canton Waterfront Park. Although it won't be an issue, one should get there early to find a space.
Bohemian games are pretty cheap, with a $10 adult ticket as the standard price. Ages 12-21 can get in for $5, with kids under 12 getting in for free. Seven-game flex tickets are a respectable $50.
With the free parking and cheap prices, the Bohemians do hold a good value.
The Bohemians have a pretty good and loud supporter group. This is amazing because of how often the team has moved around.
Brewers Hill's Natty Boh Tower is located nearby and the iconic Mr. Boh logo seems to be watching over the field. The 11-story building is the former site of the National Brewery and is now a condo and apartment complex.
One can really enjoy a Baltimore Bohemians game at Senator Bonvegna Field, but you will get a feeling that this field will be once again only a temporary home for the squad.
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