Canal Park – Akron RubberDucks
Photos by Eric Hasman and Michael Rusignuolo, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
Canal Park 300 S Main St Akron, OH 44308
Year Opened: 1997
Ducks in the Canal
The city-owned Canal Park takes its name from the Ohio and Erie Canal that runs beyond the outfield of the ballpark. The ballpark opened in 1997 and was designed by Populous, the same architectural firm that designed the Indians’ Jacobs Field. The ballpark holds 9,097. Currently, the Akron RubberDucks, changed their name in 2013 from the Aeros to reflect the history of Akron’s rubber industry. The RubberDucks have been the AA Eastern League affiliate of the Cleveland Indians since 1989 when they were located in nearby Canton, Ohio at Thurman Munson Field.
The ballpark is asymmetrical with the following dimensions: Left Field: 331 feet, Left Center: 376 feet, Center Field: 400 feet, Right Center: 375 feet, Right Field: 337 feet. The hi-definition scoreboard in right center field gives information on the game and a sideboard in left center provides additional information. There are ball-and-strike ribbon boards at the ends of the luxury boxes.
Canal Park has a large concourse, which makes it easy to walk around the park when crowded, an area that runs from left field to right field that allows access to all the regular seating areas. In addition, the seats are angled toward home plate.
The gift shop is big with a nice selection of jerseys, shirts and hats. It is low on key chains, magnets and other small trinkets. One huge seller is the Duck Bubble Gun which sells for $6. This is a bubble gun in the image of a Rubber Ducks head and blows bubbles. The kids love this.
Food & Beverage 5
The ballpark has themed concessions located along the concourse. Godfather’s Kitchen has hot dogs ($2 or $3.75), Italian sausage ($5.50), Papa John’s pizza ($5). Tater’s dishes has your standard ballpark food (hot dogs, chicken for $5, hamburgers for $6 and pulled pork nachos for $9). The Dog Pound specializes in hot dogs, bratwurst ($5.50), kielbasa ($7.50) and Italian sausage ($5.50). The Biergarten sells sausages and dogs. The Sock Hop is all about ice cream which including floats ($5 or $8). The Nice to Meat U Grill has monster hamburgers and some “extreme” items.
Big portions of food are not a problem here because there are some “extreme dining” options at the ballpark. Some examples are the “Nice 2 Meat U Burger” (three steakhouse seasoned Certified Angus Beef burgers-1.75 lbs, two beef franks, crispy bacon, grilled onions and American cheese on a toasted Kaiser bun for $15), the “Three Dog Night” (Kielbasa split in half with a bratwurst inside, split in half with a hot dog inside of it topped with sauerkraut and served on a sub bun for $12), “Pineapple TerriyAKRON” (a half pineapple hollowed out and filled with a mixture of white rice, grilled chicken, diced pineapple and Thai chili garlic sauce topped with a teriyaki glaze for $12), “Not Your Routine Poutine” (a 10 oz portion of French fries topped with gravy, cheese curds, pulled pork, green onions and bacon bits for $12) and the “Screamer” (21 scoops of a premium ice cream on top of a brownie base and finished off with chocolate syrup, bananas, whip cream, sprinkles and maraschino cherries served in a souvenir helmet for $25). There are more extreme items too.
Besides the usual foods there some unusual items you don’t find at other parks. For example: build your own Steak sandwich ($9.50), pierogies ($6.50), turkey legs ($7.50), veggie burger / bratwurst ($7 / $6.75), corn dogs ($3.75), sauerkraut balls ($5), wedge salad/assorted vegetables/ hummus & pretzels and fruit cup (all $5), cannolis ($2.50), mini donuts ($7) and apple pie ($3.50).
Beer prices at the park are $4.50 / $7.75 / $11 for a 12oz / 20oz / 32oz domestic draft (Budwieser). Premium drafts (Yuengling, Shocktop and Leinenkugel’s) are $5 / $8.75 / $12.50 for a 12oz / 20oz / 32oz. Of course, there are local “Craft” beers on tap too from the Canton Brewing Co., Ignite Brewing Co., Lock 15 Brewing Co., Hop Tree Brewing, R. Shea Brewing which are all $8. In addition, there are some other local craft beers in bottles / cans – Mucky Duck and Rhinegeist Brewery for $7. The Tiki Bar in right field in addition to beer serves hard liquor and wine.
A bottle of soda / Powerade is $.4.25 and Iced tea is $4.75. Fountain drinks are $2.75 / $4 / $7.50 for a 16oz / 24oz / 32oz. Bottled water is $3.50 and a slushie is $4.50. Coffee/cappuccino/hot chocolate is $2.50.
In addition, to the concessions there is the “Game Grill & Bar” located in the right field corner. You can sit out on the patio on the right field walkway to watch batting practice while you eat, but you won’t be allowed into the park before the gates open outside. The “Game” delivers standard bar & grill fare, with most entrees under $12. The restaurant is also home of the extreme item the “Squealer” which is a foot-long Five Star Meats hot dog, stuffed with pulled pork and wrapped in bacon that is deep fried and topped it with shredded cheddar cheese and a drizzle of tangy BBQ sauce.
The concourse at Canal Park runs from right-center to left field and the main seating bowl is below street level. Suites are above the seating bowl from about first to third base. There is nowhere in the park besides in the Tiki Bar, in the restaurant or under the suites to get out of the sun.
The “kids” zone consists of a blow-up slide near the Tiki Bar in right field and a small concourse section behind home plate that has some minor games like racing cars and “fish for a rubberduck” and win a prize.
There are three entrances that open about an hour before game time (for those not in luxury boxes or season ticket holders): Buchtel Avenue, Canal Entrance, and State Street. Lines can get extensive on promotional days. The Diamond Boardwalk is open before game time to take you beyond third base to the actual Canal Park beyond the outfield, but the gate to the boardwalk gets closed before game time. Autograph seekers will want to be by the home first base dugout before and after the game.
Between-inning entertainment includes the mascots, regular minor league contests, races, and quizzes, post-game includes toss-a-ball, fireworks (special nights), and kids running the bases (on scheduled days).
Canal Park is located in the heart of downtown Akron across the street from the University of Akron. The old canal area is being renovated into parks and performance spaces, but there are closed factories and manufacturing buildings in the area. Right outside of left field is the Ohio & Erie Walkway Trail / Locke 2 Park (one of 19 locks once used to move canal boats) and the Akron Children’s Hospital. In addition, the Richard Howe House (and canal museum) and Locke 3 Park (a small park that hosts bands in the summer) are all around the ballpark. Being downtown there are many restaurants, fast food restaurants and bars in the area too.
Within a couple of miles is the Akron Zoo, the Akron Art Museum, the E.J. Thomas Hall of Performing Arts Hall and the National Inventors Hall of Fame. About a half hour from Akron is the Pro Football Hall of Fame located in Canton, Ohio.
Like most of the minor leagues, the RubberDucks cater to locals and families. Many fans here seem to be interested and knowledgeable about their players and the Cleveland Indians who are their parent club. Of course, there are people just there to hang out and socialize. Cleveland is about 40 minutes away from Akron and that helps draw some Indians fans to this park. The RubberDucks are averaging over 4,500 per game this season (2019) and for the past five years. The people and workers at the game are very friendly and willing to talk about the park, team and area, if you should choose.
Access to the ballpark is easy. The ballpark is located in downtown Akron located at the intersection of S. Main and State St and is accessible by car or bus. The park is approximately 10 minutes north of intersection of I-76 & I-77. It is also about 12 miles south of the intersection of I-80 and Route 8.
Canal Park is about a 40-minute drive to Cleveland and Canton, two hours to Columbus and Pittsburgh and two hours to Toledo.
There are several municipal and private lots within walking distance of the park which costs $5 to $10. In addition, there is limited meter parking which is free on the weekend, if you get there early enough you may get lucky and not have to pay for parking.
The Akron METRO buses will get you to the ballpark (routes 1, 4, 9, 10, 14, and 34) for $1.75 per ride or $2.50 for a day pass. In addition, Greyhound buses are available and the Akron station is just down the street from the park
If you are flying in to or out of Akron, the Akron-Canton Airport is down I-77 about 30 minutes to the south of the ballpark.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets are relatively cheap here. Reserve Seats on game day are $13 for adults ($12 for Juniors & Seniors), with General Admission at $7. The “Duck Row” just beyond third base in left field, delivers swivel seats and in-seat food and drink service for $17 and “Homerville in right field with two rows of 11 swivel-seats with drink rails in front of the Tiki Bar is $25 but you receive either two (2) 16-ounce beers or four (4) 24-ounce sodas.
In addition, you can rent out the “Park Fowl Territory” Picnic-style seating starting at one table of eight people, with options for up to 400 (50 tables). Minimum 24 people for a picnic outing and a two-hour, all-you-can-eat buffet-style picnic, beginning one hour before the game. Lastly there is the Tiki Terrace in right field. Groups as small as 24 guests can reserve this area, however if no groups have rented the area anyone can sit here. Included in this area is a two-hour, all-you-can-eat buffet-style picnic, beginning one hour before the game.
As with all teams if you get season tickets or group seats in advance you will receive a discount.
The RubberDucks receive an extra point each for the following:
Giving out a 1st game certificate and button at the Guest Services booth if you say this is your first game. They also have scorecards and programs for free. Lastly, if you feel like participating in the in-between inning contests you sign up there for a chance to do so.
The Greater Akron Baseball Hall of Fame (free admission) that honors both the players, teams and umpires from the Akron area is located just north of the Rubber Duck’s Team Shop with an outside entrance at the park.
The two main team mascots, “Rubberta” the duck or “Webster” the duck walk the concourse and are available for pictures and autographs. The RubberDucks also have “Orbit” the space cat, “Homer” the inflatable pigeon but apparently they are not there every game.
The POW/MIA seat on the first base side and LeBron James number is retired too.
The “Duck Mug” which is a 16oz plastic mug (for soda) resembling the logo the sells for $12.50 but refills are only $1.
Canal Park is a comfortable, clean and well-maintained ballpark and is definitely worth the trip based upon the food alone but the people definitely make this park a must see.