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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Edward A. LeLacheur Park – Lowell Spinners


Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Edward A LeLacheur 450 Aiken St Lowell, MA 01854



Year Opened: 1998

Capacity: 5,000

 

Spin Me Right Round

Edward A. LeLacheur Park, located on the banks of the Merrimack River and the edge of the UMass Lowell campus, serves as the home of both the Lowell Spinners, class A short season affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell River Hawks baseball teams. It was named for the State Representative and civic leader who spearheaded the redevelopment of the city of Lowell. Opened in 1998, the ballpark was designed by Populous, the firm responsible for numerous prominent sporting venues worldwide.

Since arriving in Lowell from Elmira, New York in 1996, the Spinners have qualified for the playoffs in the New York-Penn League three times, losing in the first round each time. 108 Spinners alumni have made it to the major leagues.

Food & Beverage 4

While there seems to be some sort of concession stand tucked into virtually every corner of LeLacheur Park, concessions don’t stray too far from your stadium basics.

The Canaligator Cafes located on either side of the ballpark offer your standard fare, with the menu anchored by burgers, hot dogs and pizza slices. Chicken parm sandwiches, steak and cheese subs, and sausage and pepper sandwiches round out the offerings. All the usual sides can be found here, including fries that can be smothered with chili and cheese. Kids meals containing either a burger or chicken tenders, apple slices or chips and a drink are available for the younger fans in attendance. Items can be combined into a combo meal to save a few dollars.

Healthy options including grilled chicken salads, wraps, veggie burgers, apple slices and fruit juice are sold at the large stands.

Portable stands located all over the concourse add variety to the menu with items including monster dogs, premium burgers and loaded nachos.

Thirsty Spinner fans can select from assorted Coca-Cola products. There is a large selection of adult beverages from national beers (Coors Light, Miller Lite, Heineken, Blue Moon, Corona) to local favorites (Sam Adams, Harpoon, Narragansett) sold in both cans and draft. Wine and Sangria are sold at the tiki hut in right field.

Fans looking for something a little different should check out the Home Plate BBQ, which features an all you can eat buffet starting 90 minutes before first pitch and lasting until the game starts. For $31.50 fans can enjoy a menu featuring ribs, pulled pork, BBQ chicken, burgers, dogs and more in a private space underneath the concourse. Children 12 and under enjoy a five dollar discount.

Atmosphere 4

Whether or not you enjoy the game day experience at LeLacheur Park may depend entirely on your age. One thing is for sure, the Spinners’ staff certainly do try. They try hard, very hard. That may be their biggest problem. The game is almost an afterthought at LeLacheur Park. There are sound effects, video clips, PA announcements, and exhortations for fans to clap their hands and/or stomp their feet all game long. For the many children in the stands these distractions from the action are welcome. The aluminum stands at LeLacheur Park are perfect for jumping up and down and making lots of noise.

There is a contest or giveaway between every half inning, including several t-shirt tosses, sing-alongs, and most famously, the rubber chicken toss, during which several rubber chickens are tossed into the stands. For many Spinner fans, this is the highlight of the evening’s shenanigans, and has become synonymous with the Spinners. Located beyond the left field stands is Swamp Land, an area filled with several slides, inflatables, and other attractions for the younger Spinners fans.

The Spinners feature an extensive promotional schedule, featuring many giveaways and theme nights. Several bobbleheads are given out every year, featuring Spinners alumni and local residents such as Jack Kerowac, Stephen King, and Jay Leno. Theme nights such as Parrot Head night, Princess night, and Super Hero night are always popular, as are nights honoring the local major league teams. Annual visits from members of the Bruins, Celtics, and Patriots always draw large crowds.

There are tables set up all along the concourse for sponsors, magicians and musicians performing throughout the evening, and auctions for team memorabilia. Even the ushers get in on the action, dancing on dugouts or racing each other on the field. The Spinners employ three mascots, Canaligator, Allie Gator and Millie Gator who roam the stands entertaining fans. There is plenty to do and see at LeLacheur Park.

Neighborhood 3

LeLacheur Park is located adjacent to several university buildings on the UMass Lowell campus in downtown Lowell, as is the Tsongas Center, home of the UMass Lowell hockey team.

As is the case with many industrial cities of the north, the boon that brought prosperity to these cities faded, and with it went many jobs and a great deal of money. During this time, the city of Lowell obtained a reputation as a violent, crime-ridden city, best to be avoided. Recent decades have been kinder to Lowell, and there has been a growth in business, cultural, and educational development in the city. Statistically, Lowell is safer than many other New England cities of similar size but unfortunately, Lowell’s bad reputation lingers to this day.

The city of Lowell was a major center for manufacturing during the Industrial Revolution. As a result of this rich history, Lowell contains many buildings of historical significance, several of which have been preserved by the National Park Service and remain in use today as the Lowell National Historical Park. Fans arriving early to LeLacheur Park can walk along the Riverwalk and observe some of the rapids that powered the old mills. Fans of American literature should be sure to check out the memorial for native son Jack Kerowac, located within the park.

The area around LeLacheur Park has seen a great deal of development since the opening of the ballpark, but it hasn’t resulted in increased dining or lodging options for visiting fans. Fans looking for a place to gather before or after a game for a bite to eat or (more specifically) a drink will be pleased to find Beer Works located in one of the old mills about a block from LeLacheur Park. Beer Works is known for their impressive lineup of craft beers. It’s a must-try for those fans who enjoy sampling some local flavor along with their sporting journeys.

Fans 4

For many seasons early on in the Spinners’ history, the team sold out LeLacheur Park for entire seasons. Unfortunately, attendance in Lowell has been in a steady decline over the past decade. Despite this, the team continues to rank in the top five of the New York-Penn League annually.

LeLacheur Park’s proximity to Fenway Park (30 miles separate the two ballparks) guarantees that the fans in attendance will be very knowledgeable about the players on the team. The Red Sox fan base is one of the most dedicated you will find anywhere, and this passion trickles down all the way to the Spinners, the team’s Short Season Single A affiliate.

Access 3

While hardly a destination city in its own right, Lowell’s proximity to Boston makes it an easy stop for baseball fans traveling in the area. Lowell is located 25 miles northwest of Boston, served by the Lowell Connector off of Interstate 495, a short drive from both Interstate 95 and Route 3.

Parking is plentiful near the ballpark, with a few small surface lots and a decent sized parking garage located nearby. Fans willing to walk a few blocks can find plenty of on-street parking as well. While Lowell is served by both Amtrak and Greyhound, driving is the most efficient and most popular way to arrive at LeLacheur Park.

There is a small entry plaza at LeLacheur Park where the ticket booths and team store are located. Fans will climb a set of stairs to arrive on the concourse, which stretches from the right field foul pole to medium left field. Except for an area behind home plate, the field is visible from all points on the concourse.

The seating bowl consists mainly of individual green folding plastic stadium seats, except for some bleacher seating in the furthest sections from home which serve as general admission seating. There is a kids’ play area beyond the end of the stands in deep left field. To avoid watching the action through nets, select seats far down either baseline.

As is the case with many ballparks in the northeast, crowds at LeLacheur Park move around quite a bit during the course of the game, and the small concourse can get very crowded at times. Two pairs of bathrooms are open for Spinners games, and they are adequate for a typical Lowell crowd.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets for Lowell Spinners games are sold in three tiers: Premium Seats for ten dollars, Box Seats for nine dollars and Reserved Bleacher Seating for seven dollars. With the high demand for Spinners tickets, Standing Room seats are offered for six dollars. Waiting for game day to buy your tickets will add $2.50 to your total. Remember to ask for the AAA discount if you are a member.

Parking in the garage adjacent to LeLacheur Park, as well as on the streets surrounding the ballpark, will cost you five dollars. Concession prices are comparable to other parks in the area, making a night at the ballpark in Lowell an affordable entertainment option for local sports fans.

Extras 3

Extra points are awarded for the Spinners’ strong connection to the nearby parent club in Boston. Features from Fenway Park such as the old Hood Milk Jug in center field, the Red Sox retired numbers hanging on the right field fence and the display of former Spinners to make it to the Major Leagues just reinforce that relationship. Red Sox souvenirs are sold in the team store, and the majority of the fans in the stands wear Sox gear.

Another extra point is awarded for the sense of fun and fan first attitude prevalent at LeLacheur Park. It appears as if the staff here really enjoy their jobs, and share their sense of fun with the fans.

Final Thoughts

The partnership between NY-Penn League teams and NCAA teams has been successful in many other cities (see Joseph Bruno Stadium in Troy, NY and Medlar Field in State College, PA). It’s a natural fit, as the seasons do not overlap, and it increases the amount of dates that a given stadium can be in use. With LeLacheur Field owned and operated by UMass Lowell, having the Spinners and River Hawks share a stadium is a natural fit. The Spinners’ proximity to Boston guarantees great support and a fun atmosphere, and has helped make LeLacheur Park a very popular destination for baseball fans traveling through the northeast.

Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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