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Skylands Stadium

Augusta, NJ

Home of the Sussex County Miners

2.9

3.0

Skylands Stadium (map it)
94 Championship Place
Augusta, NJ 07822


Sussex County Miners website

Skylands Stadium website

Year Opened: 1994

Capacity: 4,200

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Digging for baseball fans

Northwest Jersey has been on the minor league baseball landscape since 1994 with the opening of Skylands Park in Augusta, New Jersey, as the home of the NY-Penn League short-season A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The New Jersey Cardinals of the New York-Penn League played at the stadium for eleven years before relocating to State College, Pennsylvania in 2005.

The Sussex Skyhawks moved in the next year as part of the independent Can-Am League, but lasted only five seasons before folding in 2010. After five years lying professionally dormant (while hosting other events and Sussex County Community College Skylanders baseball) the newly renamed Skylands Stadium became home to its second Can-Am League team the Sussex County Miners.

Skylands Stadium is a solid park with good food and drink options, nice extras, and a great value; however, it is struggling to find a consistent fan base. The stadium may not particularly stand out in any area, but it does everything that it is supposed to do.

2.9

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

Skylands Stadium provides a decent array of food and drinks. Ballpark grub is mostly served up at standard concession stands built into the back of the seating bowl and located at regular intervals around the promenade. All the offerings are inexpensive and small sized to serve both kids and adults. The ballpark standards are covered with hot dogs ($3), corn dogs ($3.50), burgers ($4), cheeseburgers ($4.25), chicken fingers ($5), pulled pork ($6), and sausage and peppers ($6).

If that's not to your liking, there are some food trucks in the plaza behind third base that rotate. The Texas Smoke stand is a regular at the park serving pulled pork, beef brisket, and ribs ($8-$9 for sandwiches and $8-$24 for 3 to a full rack of ribs), or as part of platters with two sides ($11-$12 for sandwiches and $11-$27 for the ribs). A sampler of all three with sides is $15.

The main concessions pour domestic drafts for $5 (Bud, Miller, and Leinenkugel products) or rotating craft bottles ($6). A much better selection is at the Bud Rita Stand behind first base. They have Bud ($4), Michelob ($4), PBR ($4), Amstel Light ($5), Murphy's ($5), Stella Artois ($6), and Boddingtons ($6) on tap. Mixed drinks are $6-$7, wine is $6, and sangria is $5.

On the seating bowl walkway are a number of specialty carts that are the only places serving Heineken, Newcastle, Woodchuck, Gumption, and Green Blunt IPA ($6 each). Coca-Cola products cost between $3-$4, other non-alcohol products are water for $2, and Powerade for $3.

As for a suggestion, it depends what you're up for. Have your own Nathan's contest to see how many hot dogs you can down, while washing it back with $4 PBRs from the Rita Stand. Enjoy a Texas Smoke Sampler while sipping a bottle or two of craft beer.

Atmosphere    3

The park is a fairly common design of the first new wave of minor league ballparks that started appearing in the 90s. The main entrance opens into an outer promenade that runs from left to right field around home plate. The outer promenade holds most of the concessions: team store, event tables, and other stops. A plaza off the third base side hosts a number of games and play areas for the kids.

In right field, the park ends with the Party Pavilion and the Grinnell Cigar Deck, while the left field end just tapers off into the visiting bullpens. The top of the seating area behind home plate is ringed with the press box and luxury boxes. The outer promenade features two sections of seats separated by an inner concourse that features a few portable concession stands.

Fans look out onto a wooded hill behind the outfield wall providing a suitable bucolic backdrop for the game, while an old school video board in left center keeps them up-to-date on the stats. The lower deck seats are all molded plastic with arm rests offering a little more space and comfort, but making coming in and out of these rows slightly more cumbersome.

Heavily bearded mascot Herbie the Miner leads the fun off the field and in between innings. He's there to greet fans when the gates open, schmooze in the stands during the game, and participate in the standard minor league races, games, and contests on the field. A fully human Fun Team also helps out starring in certain dance events and distributing giveaways and prizes to the crowd.

As with many small parks, all the seats have a great view of the stadium, so take your pick. If you want the maximum chance of interaction and autographs before and after the game, Sections A, B, and C are the places to go or U & T for visiting team access.

Neighborhood    2

Augusta is a rural and unincorporated community with a whopping population of 887 inhabitants; outside of the stadium's wheelHouse Kitchen and Bar, there's only a handful of restaurants nearby. The Chatterbox Drive-In is adorned in 50's decor and Yetter's is your typical Jersey diner serving almost anything imaginable; both are just down the street from the park.

Slightly further down the same road is the Double S Smokehouse (Carolina style BBQ) featuring barbecue nachos, smoked wings, and smoked meatloaf. Local favorite Roseline's Farm & Bakery is sporadically open at this time, as the owner deals with expansion issues, but when open, is worth checking out for farm fresh meals.

If you're seeing a game in early August, both the NJ State Fair and Horse Show are in the fairgrounds around the park. The fantastic underground Sterling Hill Mining Museum, 15 minutes to the east, is where you can learn about the team's namesake. Outdoorsy folks can travel a half hour west to the Bear Swamp preserve, duffers will find country clubs the same distance to the north and south, and there are a clutch of antiques shops on the roads leading to the park.

Hotels are even hard to come by, the closest is the Holiday Inn Express ten minutes to the south on 206. Further south are the more modest Econo Lodge and Holiday Motel. Starting about 20 minutes north on 94 are more posh accommodations (mostly serving the winter crowd), including the Grand Cascades Lodge, Minerals Hotel, and the Alpine Haus Bed & Breakfast,

Fans    2

It can be unfair to judge a new franchise with only a season or two under its belt; given a previously failed team in the same league at the same park, it is probably telling that the Miners weren't even able to sell out their first game ever in 2015.

The story doesn't get much better from there: the team has been at the bottom of total attendance averaging under 30% capacity for each home game and managing an anemic 8% of the six-team league's total gate during its inaugural season.

Perhaps the news isn't quite that bleak, there is a dedicated core of season ticket holders and fans regularly decked out in team colors (some hold-outs can still be found in New Jersey Cardinals regalia) clanking their cowbells when things are going their team's way. For the sake of those dedicated fans, one hopes the Miners can be profitable in the future.

Access    2

Skylands Stadium is located on the grounds of the Sussex County Fairgrounds. It is a bit out of the way, a little over a half hour north off I-80, via either state roads 206 or 15, or the same distance south from I-84 on either state roads 23 or 206.

There is no mass transit to speak of in this rural section of the state; the closest commuter trains are at Port Jervis over a half hour to the north and Newark Liberty Airport is an hour southwest of the stadium. Driving is your one and only option, but there is a large free parking lot that accommodates more than enough cars for games. There is only one main entrance inside the stadium.

Inside the park is slightly a different matter; although the main concourses make getting around the stadium quite easily, it can get congested with snaky lines of customers waiting for food at the concession stands.

Return on Investment    5

Ticket pricing for Miners game is straightforward. Upper Level reserved seats are $10, Field Level are $12, Premium Field Level (behind the plate) are $15. Game day purchases are $2 more.

A table for four on the Grinnell Cigar Deck is $96 ($24 per person) includes table service from the wheelHouse Kitchen + Bar restaurant. Being particularly family friendly, all kids under 36" (3 feet) get free admission (though you need to get a seat voucher for them to not sit on someone's lap).

Family Fun Sundays is free admission for all kids 12 and under, with autographs and base running after the game. Two For Tuesdays offers 2-for-1 food specials, Win-Win Wednesdays feature free give-aways for the first 500 fans, and Cheap Cheap Thursdays provide $2 beers, sodas, and hot dogs. Craft Beer Fridays lower the price on all craft beers and the popular Fireworks Saturday's shoot off postgame fireworks.

Extras    3

Skylands Stadium has several extra items worth mentioning.

One point for the free photo booths, mine train rides, and mineral activities for the kids.

An additional point for the giant globe statue out in front of the park that reveals its true nature as a giant fire pit sculpture.

One final point for the extensive play area for the little ones is worth an extra mention.

Final Thoughts

Skylands Stadium has its eyes on the prize of making an affordable night out for local families and fans. It is hampered by its somewhat out-of-the-way location, while is still trying to find the fans that followed previous franchises at the park.

Red Seats?

I went to a game here in 1994. I remember the park having red seats, which would make sense being that it was the New Jersey Cardinals. Not sure though.

by daddy912 | May 05, 2016 11:05 AM

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Crowd Reviews

Skyland Stadium is Back in Business

Total Score: 2.57

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 2
  • Extras: 3

Skylands Stadium is the second oldest minor league baseball venue in New Jersey. The stadium debuted for the New Jersey Cardinals of the Single A NYPL in 1994 and was fully completed the next season with the addition of skyboxes. However, after 12 seasons in Sussex County, the Cards relocated their team to State College, Pennsylvania. The ballpark would not be vacant for too long with the addition of the Sussex Skyhawks of the Can Am League the next season, but after only five years of playing baseball, the team ceased operations in 2010.

The Sussex County Miners are the third baseball team to call the stadium home in 2015. The Can Am League entry made several improvements that included the installation of a new scoreboard, a refurbished patio featuring a cigar section and bar. There is also a full service restaurant nearing completion and many other ideas that should assist with Skylands Stadium returning to its glory from two decades ago.

Hopefully will get better ...

Total Score: 3.71

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 3
  • Fans: 4
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

After a five year absence, pro baseball returned to Skylands Stadium in 2015. Unfortunately, crowds have not been great except on fireworks nights. The Miners did get a late start in promoting the team, however, as they weren't announced until late fall the year before they started play. So hopefully crowds will improve in future seasons. The NJ Cardinals were always a great draw here, but as with other markets that have had affiliated ball, sometimes indy ball is a tough sell.

The owners (led by Al Dorso) have done a great job improving the ballpark. A new videoboard, patio seating area, and team store were all added before the 2015 season. In addition, a giant fire pit was added outside the ballpark - this is lit up after every home game. Concession offerings are mostly the standard ballpark fare with pulled pork sandwiches being the only thing unique. Hopefully this will be improved in future seasons.

Overall the atmosphere is pretty laid back as there is no onfield DJ and just a few between inning contents. A mascot, Herbie, does a good job of entertaining fans.

Digging for baseball fans

Total Score: 2.86

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 2
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 2
  • RoI: 5
  • Extras: 3

Northwest Jersey has been on the minor league baseball landscape since 1994 with the opening of Skylands Park in Augusta, New Jersey, as the home of the NY-Penn League short-season A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. The New Jersey Cardinals of the New York-Penn League played at the stadium for eleven years before relocating to State College, Pennsylvania in 2005.

The Sussex Skyhawks moved in the next year as part of the independent Can-Am League, but lasted only five seasons before folding in 2010. After five years lying professionally dormant (while hosting other events and Sussex County Community College Skylanders baseball) the newly renamed Skylands Stadium became home to its second Can-Am League team the Sussex County Miners.

Skylands Stadium is a solid park with good food and drink options, nice extras, and a great value; however, it is struggling to find a consistent fan base. The stadium may not particularly stand out in any area, but it does everything that it is supposed to do.

Share your thoughts about Skylands Stadium

Local Food & Drink

The Chatterbox Drive-In  (map it!)

1 NJ-15

Augusta, NJ 07822

(973) 300-2300

http://www.chatterboxdrivein.com/

Gordion Mediterranean Restaurant  (map it!)

124 Route 206

Augusta, NJ 07822

(973) 948-0634

https://www.facebook.com/GordionMediterranean

Double S Smokehouse  (map it!)

154 NJ 23

Wantage, NJ 07461

(651) 756-8909

http://www.doublessmokehouse.com/

Yetter's Diner  (map it!)

89 US-206

Augusta, NJ 07461

(973) 383-5641

http://www.yettersdinernj.com/

Riviera Maya  (map it!)

340 US-206

Branchville, NJ 07826

(973) 948-6292

http://rivieramayanj.com/

Roseline's Farm & Bakery   (map it!)

553 County Rd 565

Augusta, NJ 07461

(973) 940-0011

http://www.roselinesbakery.com/

Local Entertainment

Sterling Hill Mining Museum  (map it!)

255 6th St E

Ogdensburg, NJ 07439

(973) 209-7212

http://sterlinghillminingmuseum.org/

Lodging

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Newton Sparta  (map it!)

8 N Park Dr

Newton, NJ 07860

(973) 940-8888

https://www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress/hotels/us/en/newton/nwtnj/hoteldetail

Grand Cascades Lodge  (map it!)

3 Wild Turkey Way

Hamburg, NJ 07419

(844) 281-0548

http://www.crystalgolfresort.com/stay/grand-cascades-lodge/

Minerals Hotel  (map it!)

2 Chamonix Dr

Vernon, NJ 07462

(844) 237-1115

http://www.crystalgolfresort.com/stay/minerals-hotel/

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