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Official Review by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Yogi Berra Stadium is located in Little Falls, New Jersey, on the campus of Montclair State University. Built in 1998, the 3,784-seat stadium was a donation from Montclair native and chief executive officer of Kmart, Floyd Hall, who privately funded the ballpark and nearby hockey arena. The New Jersey Jackals of the then independent Northeast League debuted in 1998 and returned minor league baseball to the suburbs of New York and New Jersey for the first time since the Jersey City Indians played at Roosevelt Stadium in 1979, in which Hall-of-Famer Rickey Henderson called “a dump” and thought it “should be blown up” during his tenure at the stadium with the Jersey City A’s in 1978.
However, Yogi Berra Stadium is not a dump and the Jackals now play in the Can-Am League. The ballpark features the colors of red, cream, and black and the stadium features one suite above the 3rd base side for Mr. Hall himself. There are banners representing the four championships won by the Jackals since 1998, and there are four retired numbers on the outfield wall (including #8 for Yogi Berra). The press box is located in the center of the concourse and displays the game’s lineup and the current Can-Am League standings.
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 plenty of variety of ballpark food at the stadium at the two main concession stands. However, only one was in operation during our most recent visit, but it housed everything a patron would need while watching a baseball game and more.
The prices are affordable and the selection is varied. Some of the offerings include chicken strips ($4), brats ($4), chicken wings ($9.75), pizza ($5), nachos ($5-$7) hot dogs ($3), and mozzarella sticks ($5). If you are looking for more treats to eat, then enjoy deep fried Oreos ($4), funnel cakes ($5), and kettle corn ($5-$7).
Yogi Berra Stadium features a beer garden concession stand that offers Bud Light, Coors Light, Sam Adams, Yuengling, and local product Cricket Hill. The domestic beers ($4.50-$6.50), specialty beers ($4.75-$6.75) and wine ($7) are extremely reasonably priced. On Thursdays, all domestic beers are just $1.
Yogi Berra Stadium is an honest to goodness ballpark that is like a dependable local diner. You know what you are going to get and the quality of the service. The ballpark does not look nor feel like the five other minor league venues that are currently in the state. It is a beautiful college baseball venue, but you never get the impression that the Jackals are the second class team in the building. Many of the banners and signage clearly indicated that this is the Jackals' home stadium.
The main entrance features a large black gate that is decorated with a silhouettes of Yogi Berra; fans enter the main concourse by walking down a short flight of stairs. There are vendors selling cotton candy, programs, and other food items on the spacious concourse level. The majority of the 3,874 seats are now sunbleached red, while the rest of the 1,500 lawn seating exists in the form of a massive hill down the right field base line in the outfield. On game days with a smaller crowd, you will find a plethora of children running up and rolling down the hill.
The Jackals gift shop is an impressive team store with bountiful team merchandise. You can find caps, jerseys, shirts, stuffed animals, mini bats, and plenty of other paraphernalia in the expansive store. The prices are also very reasonable. For example, team caps are $20 and t-shirts start under $18.
The team's mascot, Jack, does a fabulous job of throwing out shirts to fans, leading the crowd in the YMCA, and shaking hands with patrons during the game. He is an entertaining mascot. Jack will even ride on the hood of a car while waving a flag in between innings; a very entertaining and active mascot.
Adjacent to the main entrance is the Yogi Berra Museum. On the weekends, the museum is open during game days. The cost is $6 for adults and $4 for kids to view many of the Hall of Fame catcher's vast collection of baseball memorabilia. However, the museum is only opened on Wednesday to Sunday from 12-5 PM.
The stadium is on the campus of Montclair State University, but a short 15-minute drive to downtown Montclair. The recently renovated downtown has many nice restaurants and shops along Bloomfield Avenue that are open long after the game. The street features Cuban Pete's, Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant, The Office Beer Bar & Grill, Laboratori Kitchen, and Manny's Diner.
The streets are limited to traffic, but the restaurants are elegant, and many feature outdoor seating areas. The beautiful tree lined streets make you feel you are closer to Savannah, Georgia than to New York City.
Scott Freier is the type of baseball fan that all minor league teams would love to have. He is affectionately known as the Trumpet Guy and has attended well over 1,000 games since 1998. He is also a ballpark chaser, who will talk with you about his favorite ballparks in the area. During the game he adds sound effects with his trumpet for both the home and away team.
There are other collections of Jackals fans who can be found wearing the colors of black and red inside the stadium. The fans here seem a little different than other minor league clubs in the state of New Jersey; they are more concerned with the action on the field and are loyal to certain players.
Yogi Berra Stadium is accessible through a one lane road that leads up the hill to the stadium and the campus of Montclair State University. It is only 1.5 miles from exit 148 (County Highway-506) off the Garden State Parkway, but use GPS to locate the stadium, since there are no signs and the small one lane road can be easily missed. The parking is free and plentiful outside of the ballpark. Once inside, the small and cozy ballpark is easily accessible for food, souvenirs, and fun. The vendors are spread out nicely along the concourse while portable stands for beer, food, and dessert cut down on long wait times.
Tickets to Jackals games are $10 and $12, on par with other independent clubs in the area and not terribly expensive for anyone's budget. The free parking should offset any concerns with the ticket prices. There are also standing room only tickets for $5, which are needed on days where fireworks are shown after the game.
One extra point for a great name for a minor league ballpark-Yogi Berra Stadium. The corporate names never sound as good as ones named after legends.
Another extra point for the impressive gift store and prices. It would be hard not to be a Jackals fan with the wide array of shirts, caps, jerseys, and much more.
One final extra point for the ballpark standing out among the five others currently being used in the state of New Jersey. It does not have the brick exterior, the wraparound concourse, or green seating, but it is a comfortable place to enjoy nine innings.
This was my first trip to Yogi Berra Stadium since the Jackals won the championship in 2002. However, not a lot has changed with the stadium. With the exception of sun bleached red plastic seats, the place looks exactly the same as it did back then and I cannot imagine it looking any different in the following years. It's a true New Jersey original.
Member Review by shamus170 on Jun 10, 2012
In one of the more pleasant suburbs of Northeast New Jersey lies Yogi Berra Stadium, home of the New Jersey Jackals. The team has carved a nice little niche in the area as they have been playing since 1998 and cater to the many families that live in the populated area to the west of New York City. Four championships have been won by this Can-Am League franchise, though all of the titles were won when they played in a different league. Playing on the campus of Montclair State University, Yogi Berra Stadium may not have the most ideal location or most polished look to a stadium, but it is a fine facility that suits the Jackals and their fans quite well.
Member Review by ballparkreviews on Jul 07, 2013
Yogi Berra Stadium is starting to look a bit run-down. While it was the finest ballpark in the league when it first opened, that is no longer the case. Many of the seats have faded and it still maintains a rather unfinished feel. It is also not the most comfortable place to take in a game. Many of the seats are obstructed by metal railings or by other people's heads because the slope of the seating bowl is not steep enough. It also irks me that the team no longer offers scorecards of any kind. While the food offerings are decent and the park is easy enough to get to, it simply doesn't stack up to other nearby parks. That said, the Yogi Berra Museum, located adjacent to the park, is fantastic and well worth the admission price.
428 Bloomfield Ave
Montclair, NJ 07042
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Montclair, NJ 07042
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615 Bloomfield Ave
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