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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Campbell’s Field – Camden Riversharks


Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.87

Campbell’s Field 401 Delaware Ave Camden, NJ 08102

Year Opened: 2001

Capacity: 6,700

 

From a View to a Kill, Campbell’s Field

Campbell’s Field debuted in 2001 and served as the home of the Camden Riversharks of the independent Atlantic League. It was the last new ballpark built in the state that began in 1994 with Trenton’s ARM & HAMMER Ballpark. Ironically, it bears a striking resemblance in design and color to Trenton but differs in its spectacular views of the Delaware River, Ben Franklin Bridge and the Philadelphia skyline. The ballpark’s construction was designed to spark urban renewal in the city of Camden and along with the aquarium and amphitheater that shares the stadium’s parking lot, this is a pleasant destination to visit.

Unfortunately, after the 2015 season the Riversharks ceased operations due to the inability to reach an agreement on lease terms with the owner of Campbell’s Field, the Camden County Improvement Authority. The ballpark would remain vacant of professional baseball for the next four years but was used for the Rutgers-Camden baseball program until the 2018 season.

In December 2018 demolition started and the site will be home to a new $15 million athletic complex that will include a baseball and softball field, a turf field for soccer and lacrosse, and an 8-lane track that will be ready in 2021. The demolition of the 6,700-seat ballpark and surface preparations for the new complex was funded by the City of Camden and Rutgers-Camden.

Campbell’s Field was the second ballpark built in New Jersey, along with Riverfront Stadium, in Newark that was razed. Both facilities were constructed to spark renewal interest in an urban area but both stadiums failed to draw large enough crowds to spark such interest and Campbell’s (15 years) and Newark (16 years) saw limited time as professional ballparks.


Food & Beverage 4

The Riversharks provide a lot of local flavors at the ballpark. The Philadelphia Pretzel Factory offers their famous Philly style pretzels. Chickie & Pete’s, a Jersey Shore tradition, offers a bucket of french fries with Old Bay seasoning for only $7-perfect for families and is the number one selling item during games.

Turkey Hill ice cream, which is becoming available in parts of the country at Kroger supermarkets, is served along with another area delicacy, the cheesesteak. It should be mentioned that the cheesesteaks in Philadelphia and South Jersey differ from other locales across the nation. More options include burritos, churros, chicken tenders, hot dogs, burgers and a Budweiser bar that features $1 beers on Tuesday nights.

Atmosphere 3

If you are not enjoying your day at the ballpark, do not blame the Riversharks. They have made sure that your stay during the game is fun, friendly and safe. First, and foremost, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in the outfield is the star of the ballpark. Its presence is looming, magnificent and one of a kind in professional baseball. It is hard to not stare at this massive bridge that stretches across the Delaware River or take a photo at the ballpark without a portion of it being in the background. It is one of the best outfield views in minor league baseball.

The children’s area is another star attraction and if your kids do not enjoy baseball, perhaps they will enjoy the wall climb, bouncy slide, and jungle gym. The carousel on the third baseline and next to the funnel cake stand is another area for your kids to pass the time during the game. Also, when tickets to Monday games for kids are only $3, this might be the best way for your kid to release some energy. Adding to the ambiance is the official team store that features replica jerseys ranging from $20-$30, ball caps varieties and products for the kids.

The ballpark features many attributes of ones built in its era with brick exterior and interior, green canopy and seating, and concourse layout. Visitors have to walk up stairs from the entrance to the main concourse, and there is one area that stands out among many other ballparks: South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame.

The small spot is packed with baseball nostalgia from jerseys, seats, photos and buckets of baseball rubbing mud that is harvested nearby in Palmyra, New Jersey. And with Major League All-Star Mike Trout being from the area, the hall of fame could grow in stature in the foreseeable future.

Neighborhood 2

Camden, along with other cities such as Newark and Gary, are known as dangerous places to visit. However, one should never disdain traveling to a game at Campbell’s Field, since the ballpark is right off the highway and Philadelphia is located a few miles away. It is not recommended that you walk around the area to find places to eat or drink.

However, the ballpark is located along the riverfront and shares a parking lot with the Adventure Aquarium and the outdoor amphitheater Susquehanna Bank Center. These two locations attract large audiences and have brought life back to the city. Also, located outside the ballpark is Victor’s Pub, which is a fast and easy way to enjoy a drink or bite to eat before the game.

Philadelphia is only a quick drive over the bridge and once in the city, visit a few places I grew up visiting that include Yard’s Brewing Company, Philadelphia Brewing Company, Tony Luke’s, the best cheesesteaks in town, and Marabella’s Meatball Company. These are just a few of my favorite places, but the city offers endless possibilities of historical venues, museums and other places to wine and dine.

Fans 2

There were not a lot of fans at the game that I attended and it was a head scratcher. The game night featured $1 hot dogs, churros, popcorn, sodas and beer and this should have been a slam dunk of night to get the locals out. Do not blame the Riversharks, they have created a great template for fans to venture out for a night of baseball

Access 3

The ballpark shares a massive lot with the aquarium and amphitheatre and costs $5 – about $2-$3 more compared to other ballparks in the state. However, since the area outside of the ballpark is somewhat blithe, the price of parking is well worth the peace of mind when heading back out after the game. The ballpark is off of I-676 and easily accessible from the 1-295 and the turnpike in New Jersey.

If coming from Philadelphia, cross the Ben Franklin Bridge off of I-95 and the ballpark is visible from the bridge. There is plenty of signage to aid the motorist, but if coming from Jersey, beware of your GPS. It has told motorists to cross the bridge into Philadelphia and that could provide headaches and cost you $5 in tolls.

Return on Investment 3

Ticket prices on game day are $13 and $14 for the two levels of grandstand seating between the third and first baselines. The family section tickets are a much better bargain at $5. Tickets for seniors and children in the 200 level are $9 and peanut free zone prices are $13. These prices are aligned reasonably with the rest of the Atlantic League, but I would have liked to have seen a $10 price point for at least one section in the ballpark.

Extras 3

Campbell’s Field provides one of my favorite views in minor league baseball. The Ben Franklin Bridge is gorgeous to stare at and without, the ballpark would lose a lot of its aesthetics. The variety of food deserves an extra star and so does the kid’s zone, it is one of the best that I have seen in my travels.

Final Thoughts

It is still shocking that Campbell’s Field was knocked down after only 15 years of being home to professional baseball. The views of the Franklin Bridge were stunning and perhaps possessed one of the best views in baseball but it is a lesson to any municipality looking at spending millions of dollars into funding a ballpark. It has worked in other markets with similar inspirations but those inspirations never materialized and even though baseball will still be played on the same site, it is still sullen to think that a 6,000 plus modern ballpark once stood along the Delaware River.

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