Trenton Thunder Ballpark – Trenton Thunder
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Trenton Thunder Ballpark One Thunder Rd Trenton, NJ 08611
Year Opened: 1994
Trenton Makes The Fans Take
Since our last visits, a lot has changed in Trenton, New Jersey. For starters, the team and the rest of the minor league baseball world shut down for the 2020 season due to a worldwide pandemic. Then the Thunder's parent club New York Yankees switched affiliates to nearby Somerset, a move that was met with vehement objection from Trenton management. Major League Baseball cut off 42 teams to improve player development.
The club opted to join the newly formed MLB Draft League instead of the independent Atlantic League. When it returned in the summer of 2021, it shared its ballpark with the displaced AAA Buffalo Bison and pushed the summer collegiate to the campus of Rider Univesity's Sonny Pittaro Field.
When Trenton Thunder Ballpark (originally Waterfront Park) debuted in 1994, it ushered in an epoch of minor league ballparks in the state of New Jersey. The home of the Double-A Eastern League Trenton Thunder is a jewel of a facility that revived excitement back to the capital city and proved that the state was capable of hosting minor league baseball – its last venture was the Jersey City As playing in decrepit Roosevelt Stadium in 1978. Within seven years there would be seven more minor league stadiums constructed within the 8,729 square miles of the country’s most densely populated state.
The saturation of other minor league ballparks has not diminished the crowds at the 6,150-seat stadium located next to the Delaware River. The Thunder continuously draws well. The $16.2 million structure set the standard for aesthetics and construction. Two other ballparks in the state, TD Bank Ballpark in Somerset and the now vacant Campbell’s Field in Camden share similar designs to Trenton Thunder Ballpark.
Food & Beverage 5
The main concession stands Thunder Road and River Ave. Food Court showcase traditional ballpark fare of hot dogs, burgers, nachos, and peanuts; however, there are also grilled chicken sandwiches, veggie dogs, corn dogs, fries served in a helmet, and pierogies. Deep-fried ice cream, Oreo churro bites, ice cream, water ice, and gelato are a few of the dessert selections at the park.
Down the first base side is Fitch’s Place, a portable stand offering hoagies and barbecue favorites including pulled pork meatballs, pulled chicken, and pizza slices. On the opposite side is the Waterfront Grille offering grilled sausages, brats, cheesesteaks, and pork roll sandwiches. and Chickie’s & Pete’s crab fries – French fries sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning.
The Case’s Pork Roll Paradise stand is also very popular and a must-try for any out-of-towners to the ballpark. Pork roll is a regional delicacy invented in Trenton and traditionally served on a bun with egg and cheese; however, the Thunder offer some insane combinations that include the Thunderdog (a hot dog wrapped in pork roll and cheese) and the Pig Pen (mashed potatoes with pork roll, pulled pork, and crumbled bacon). My suggestion is to go traditional and get the Oink, Egg, and Cheese.
As soon as you walk up the staircase of the main entrance Killarney’s on the Delaware bar offers cans and drafts of premium and domestic beers. The prices are not too bad as 16-ounce beers are $6.25 and 32-ounce beers are $9.50 – and that is for both local and domestic brands. Tuesday nights feature $2 Rolling Rock drafts.
On the healthier side is the Horizon Healthy Plate section offering gluten-free items, salads, turkey burgers, and portobello mushroom sandwiches. This is not your normal ballpark food, but there will be plenty of patrons who appreciate being able to enjoy a baseball game and eat healthy at the same time.
Attending a game is still quite fun and there have been vast improvements to the park to enhance a visit that includes a modern 21 x 68-inch high-definition video board in right field, cup holders on every seat, and an expanded picnic area. However, the main entrance to the stadium remains the same – a simply elegant design featuring a brick exterior and green canopy.
There are photos above the suites on the interior showcasing former New York Yankees Derek Jeter and Andy Petitte when they played during rehab assignments along with current stars Gary Sanchez and Brett Gardner. Also included is the sign “Welcome to Thunder Country,” a definite nice splash to make the ballpark stand out among other similar facilities across the state.
Boomer and Cloudman are the club’s two mascots who are seen throughout the game. Boomer is based on the team’s original logo, while Strike is a thunderbolt. Both are very active and enjoyed by many kids in attendance. If you want to grab some merchandise, the team has a store located near the entrance, plus a few extra tables selling discounted items. There are many fantastic bargains with some great t-shirts selling for as low as $10.
There is a children’s play area down the right field line. Also in this area is the Delaware River which may go unnoticed by many in attendance. It is sort of hidden behind the first base side of the facility. The team features bat dog Rookie who is the third generation of bat dogs for the team that began with his grandfather “Chase” in 2000.
The capital city of New Jersey has both its good and bad parts, and the area of the stadium is one of the nicer parts. Directly next to the stadium is Rho Restaurant, which also acts as a nightclub as the evening moves along. Rozmaryn Restaurant, Amici Milano, and the Shrimp Boat Restaurant are three local favorites in the city. The New Jersey State Museum offers rotating exhibits throughout the year.
Across the river and a few miles away is the town of Yardley, Pennsylvania. The small downtown offers a couple of nice places: Vault Brewing Company and the Yardley Inn. Located in an old bank, the restaurant showcases many of the building’s original banking features like vaults, receipts, teller windows, and thick doors.
They love their baseball in Trenton, as the team has been one of the better draws in the Eastern League. The average attendance has exceeded over 5,000 fans over the last decade and has been the lone successful professional sports entity in a city where hockey, basketball, and indoor football have failed on several occasions. This is the highest level of baseball in the state and the Thunder faithful not only value watching the game but enjoy watching future Yankees and the atmosphere at the ballpark.
ARM & HAMMER Park sits along the Delaware River in downtown Trenton. It is not complicated to get to, and there are various signs directing motorists from US-1 and Route 129, I-195, and from the NJ Turnpike, Route 295 and 29. The parking is $5 in multiple lots around the stadium and is well-lit and marked. Inside the stadium, the stands are split by a middle concourse, while the main concourse offers a multitude of both fixed and movable concession stands. The bathrooms are clean, easily accessible, and comfortable.
Return on Investment 4
The Thunder offers $12 tickets in advance for both the 100 and 200-level seating sections; however, the price increases to $13 the day of the game. Kids ages 4-12 and seniors 60 years and up get in for a dollar less, while anyone with the military pay $8 for their tickets. Fans are not allowed to bring in any food to the game, but concession prices and promo nights keep prices low (dollar hot dog night, kids eat free nights, and Thirsty Thursdays).
One extra point for the updated and diverse choice of food inside the ballpark. The team does not rest on its laurels and looks for ways to improve the game day experience. There is a lot to choose from and the team offers nice menu graphics for its locations at the park.
Another point for the golden retriever bat dog that is now in its third generation of dogs who help out during the game.
Another point for the Thunder becoming the Trenton Pork Roll on Friday nights. The promo is complete with merchandise and pork roll sandwiches for a buck at the concession stand.
A final extra point for the amount of affordable team gear on various tables inside the main concourse. It is hard not to pick up an inexpensive souvenir during your visit.
The Trenton Thunder have played baseball for over 25 seasons in New Jersey. It seems like only yesterday that the team arrived and spearheaded a movement toward ballpark construction in the state. However, the ballpark still stands out as a beauty and provides a highly enjoyable baseball experience. The stadium is kept up well, offers diverse menu items, and provides a sound environment to make the place pop.