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Official Review by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Sonny Pittaro Baseball Field, also known as “The Pitt,” is the home field for Rider baseball. Opened in 2005 and named after long-time Rider coach Sonny Pittaro, the venue replaced Richard F. Daly Field. Pittaro coached at Rider for 34 years, leading the Broncs to nine conference titles and eight NCAA tournament appearances.
A team locker room facility was added in 2011, thanks to donations from the SPBF seat naming program – for $500, fans could name a stadium chairback seat at the new stadium, either after themselves or a loved one.
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".
No food or beverages are sold at Sonny Pittaro Field, but fans are welcome to bring their own.
Sonny Pittaro Field is a great looking field that is very modern and has lots of color. The stands can best be described as "sprawling," with a bank of chairback seats in front of the press box, and two sets of metal bleachers next to that (one on each side). All three of these sections are decked out in Rider red, and both sets of bleachers sport large Rider banners. There is also a set of metal bleachers on the other side of each dugout, for a total of five banks of seating - the latter two are unpainted, and may have been added later. The field itself is natural grass and does not have stadium lighting. The press box does have a crow's nest on top which provides additional seating and a much better vantage point for photographers and announcers. There are also full-color photo boards in the outfield honoring former coaches Sonny Pittaro and Tom Petroff.
Located on campus, there is not a lot to do in the immediate vicinity. Directly adjacent to campus, there is a nature preserve and park, as well as a country club and golf course, but there are a couple of restaurants and hotels further out. The River Horse Brewery in Ewing has a wide selection of craft beers, but does not sell food, so your dining options are limited to bakeries, pizza joints, and fast food, such as The Great American Cheesecake or Captain Paul's Firehouse Dogs. To find better fare, you will probably need to head down to Trenton or up to Princeton.
If you are looking to stay the weekend, there is a Days Inn, a Howard Johnson, and several lower budget hotel options pretty close to campus.
The fans are decent at Rider - a lot of them wear gear (which isn't sold at Sonny Pittaro Field) and most fans really get into the game, and really seem disappointed when their team is not doing well. They are pretty loud, and get really angry when the umpire makes a bad call; unfortunately, there just aren't enough of them.
The stadium is probably too big with its capacity of 2,000; at a typical game, you may only see a few hundred in attendance, and sometimes even fewer depending on the weather or the opponent. Not selling concessions probably doesn't help, nor does not having real bathrooms. The inability to play night games may also be a factor. The emptiness of the stands is slightly misleading however, as a good number of fans choose to sit or stand along the fence, which is chain link all the way around, so you can watch from anywhere.
Sonny Pittaro Field is in Lawrenceville, NJ (also known as Lawrence Township), which is located near I-95 about halfway between Princeton and Trenton. Rider University is easy to find, and is bordered on the east by 206 and on the north by I-295. The stadium itself, however, is tricky to get to because it lacks a real address. Just stay on the main road once you get on campus (the one that goes around the outside), head west past the chapel and the track, and you will find the field between the two branches of Little Shabakunk Creek (the creek is roughly wishbone-shaped).
There is free parking next to the tennis courts, just a short walk from the field. There are no bathrooms in the stadium per se, but you can use the one in the building across the road, which is much closer than the parking. This bathroom is unisex and would definitely not support a sell-out, so there are also Port-A-Johns further away along the outfield fence.
Admission is free to Sonny Pittaro Field, as is parking. The stadium is modern and eye-catching with lots of color pops and a variety of vantage points for fans to enjoy. The venue is easy to get around and there won't be any crowds to fight. That said, there are no concessions, which could be okay depending on whether you are willing to bring in your own refreshments. But it is also a little difficult to get to, and there aren't any real bathrooms which might be a deal-breaker for some fans. The field is worth seeing, though, if you are willing to put up with those two issues.
There isn't a ton to do in the area, but one unique thing is the Albert Einstein House. Located in Princeton, it is on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976. The Albert Einstein House has been home to other Nobel Prize winners even after the death of Einstein in 1955.
A second point for all the color and Rider décor at the stadium, including the banners and photo boards which really make the stadium pop.
A nice stadium but not very well-attended, Sonny Pittaro Field is worth a look if you are in the area. A good value for the money, since admission and parking are free, so a decent way to spend a day with family or friends. Just be aware that certain amenities will be lacking, so come prepared with your own eats and drinks.
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