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  • Paul Baker

Hadlock Field – Portland Sea Dogs


Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

Hadlock Field 271 Park Ave Portland, ME 04104

Portland Sea Dogs website

Hadlock Field website


Year Opened: 1994

Capacity: 7,368

 

Home of the Maine Monster

*Stadium Journey visited Hadlock Field in the fantastic city of Portland in May of 2021, when COVID restrictions were in full force. At the time, fans entered through dedicated entrances nearest to their seats, masks were required, and social distancing was strictly enforced. All transactions, including ticketing, concessions, and merchandise, were done electronically, with food and merchandise delivered to your seat after order. Since our visit, the state of Maine has lifted all restrictions, and Hadlock is scheduled to be opened to full capacity for games starting in June. Our review will attempt to reflect full-capacity functioning, but the photos will show the reduced capacity.

Hadlock Field is named for long-time Portland High School baseball coach and physics teacher Edson J. Hadlock Jr. The Sea Dogs began competing in the AA Eastern League in 1994 as an affiliate of the Florida Marlins. In 2003 the Sea Dogs switched affiliations to the nearby Boston Red Sox and have enjoyed a surge in popularity since.

When the city of Portland was awarded an Eastern League expansion team back in 1992, the city renovated Hadlock Field, which was being used at the time as a high school field. To this day, Hadlock Field is used by both the Portland High and Deering High School baseball teams.

The Sea Dogs now compete in the AA Northeast League. During their time in the Eastern League, the Sea Dogs won one Eastern League championship along with five division titles. Before the 2021 season, the team announced that they have signed an agreement to remain affiliated with the Boston Red Sox until 2030.

Food & Beverage 3

Most of the concession stands at Hadlock Field are located underneath the grandstand on the main concourse. Fortunately, there are more than enough stands to handle a typical Sea Dogs crowd, meaning you shouldn’t miss much of the action when you leave your seat to get something to eat.

The concessions menu at Hadlock Field checks all the boxes. From Fenway Franks to the most popular item, the Sea Dog biscuit (a scoop of Gifford’s vanilla ice cream sandwiched by two chocolate chip cookies), there’s something for everyone here. Coca-Cola products are featured at Hadlock Field. If you are feeling adventurous, try a Moxie, the official state beverage of Maine. It’s an acquired taste that’s not for everyone.

Stadium Journey’s recommended spot is the Shipyard Grill, located past the end of the concourse in left field. In addition to several varieties of Shipyard’s excellent craft beer, fans can purchase items including burgers, sausage and pepper, steak and cheese, and barbeque chicken sandwiches. Fans looking for healthier items can select veggie burgers, wraps, or salads at this stand. If you’re going to eat or drink anything at Hadlock Field, this is the place to go.

Atmosphere 4

The gameday atmosphere at Hadlock Field is similar to many other ballparks at this level of baseball. A lot is going on to distract from the action on the field. There are contests and giveaways between every half-inning, along with entertainment throughout the game designed to keep younger and casual fans engaged.

A statue of the Sea Dogs’ mascot, Slugger the seal greets fans at the entrance to Hadlock Field. This is a popular spot to meet before or after the game and to pose for a picture. Longtime fans may notice that the Slugger statue finally got a new sign for the 2021 season. The actual Slugger may just be the best dancing mascot in baseball and is integral to the gameday presentation. Unique to Hadlock Field are the “Trash Monsters,” mascots who also serve as trash cans. Young fans line up to throw out their garbage into the mouths of the “monstahs” throughout the game. It can’t be fun to be the poor intern in that costume during the hot summer months.

Anyone who has spent any time in Red Sox Nation can testify how dedicated and intense fans are in this part of the country. The Sea Dogs’ affiliation with the Red Sox guarantees that the fans in Portland know the players well and are invested in their success.

Neighborhood 4

The city of Portland is often mentioned among the top destinations in all of minor league baseball. The city features a thriving arts scene and is a favorite amongst foodies. In particular, if you love seafood, you won’t find a city with greater diversity and quality of restaurants than Portland. In addition, Portland has an active craft beer scene, with several fine breweries located in the immediate area. Shoppers will flock to nearby outlet malls in Kittery, just to the south of the city, or Freeport, just to the north. What keeps Hadlock Field from receiving a perfect score in this category is that it is not located in the Old Port neighborhood of the city, but away from the city center.

Two spots within walking distance of Hadlock Field are worth mentioning. Salvage BBQ features Carolina style barbeque and an impressive list of craft beer. Holy Donut serves up an endless variety of donuts made from all-natural ingredients, including potatoes. The line can stretch around the block for these incredible pastries. As good as these spots are, if visiting from out of town, you’ll want to head downtown to the Old Port for dining, drinking, and entertainment after the game.

Maine dubs itself “Vacationland,” and whether your idea of relaxing involves a sandy beach, an amusement park, a museum, a day on the bay, or hiking through the woods, you’ll find what you need in and around Portland. Check out VisitMaine.com for more details.

Fans 4

When the Sea Dogs switched affiliations from the Florida Marlins to the hometown Boston Red Sox in 2003, the surge in attendance and interest in the team was predictable. Now, nearly two decades later, the team remains as popular as ever. The Sea Dogs annually rank in the top five in Eastern League attendance rankings, generally averaging around 5,500 fans per game.

The team’s affiliation with the nearby Boston Red Sox (Fenway Park is 107 miles away) ensures that the fans in Maine are knowledgeable about the team and passionate about the action taking place down on the field.

Access 4

Hadlock Field is easy to get to, located just a few blocks from Interstate 295. Simply take the Congress Street exit and follow the signs to the ballpark. Parking is available in surface lots around the ballpark, including at the adjacent Fitzpatrick Stadium. On-street parking is also available, but pay attention to signs for hours and restrictions.

There is only one gate to enter Hadlock Field, but lines generally move pretty quickly. Fans will enter a concourse that stretches underneath the length of the seating bowl. The small but well-stocked team store will be immediately to your left, with concession stands lining the wall in front of you. The concourse can get crowded when the park is filled, but generally, fans should have no issues getting around. Restrooms are located on either side of the ballpark and are plenty big enough for a typical Sea Dog crowd.

Due to the presence of the Portland Exposition Building next to Hadlock Field, the seating bowl of the ballpark is irregularly shaped, running from about first base around to deep left field. Most of the seating consists of green folding plastic stadium seats, with some metal bleachers along the top of the seating bowl and in deep left field. An inner walkway runs along the length of the seating bowl, separating the box seats from the reserved and general admission seating.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets to Sea Dog games range in price from $11-$13. Children and seniors receive a $1-$3 discount depending on the type of ticket purchased. Waiting until gameday to buy your tickets will add a two-dollar surcharge to each ticket. For an extra three dollars, fans can purchase Assurance tickets, which allows for the transfer of tickets to another home game should your plans change.

Parking in the many lots around Hadlock Field costs between five and ten dollars. Unfortunately, the ample free on-street parking that could be found around the ballpark is not available on most nights. Pay attention to parking signs in the area if looking for on-street parking.

Extras 4

Hadlock Field is loaded with touches designed to evoke thoughts of the ballpark’s Maine location. Keep a lookout for the lighthouse hidden beyond the centerfield fence which rises after every Sea Dog home run and victory.

Hadlock Field has many features meant to mimic their parent club’s ballpark, Fenway Park. In left-field stands a 37-foot-tall replica of Fenway’s Green Monster, known in Portland as the Maine Monster. Hadlock has its own version of Fenway’s Monster Seats, located high above the right-field wall over the Sea Dogs’ bullpen. New for 2021 is a scoreboard dedicated to up to the minute live Red Sox game stats.

Located in the concourse are pictures of every ballpark in the AA-Northeast League (Minor League baseball, please go back to the old league names, or at least come up with good new ones) as well as every Sea Dog team and award winner since the franchise’s inception in 1994. There is also a display listing every Sea Dog alumnus to make the major leagues. Sea Dog Hall of Fame members all have a plaque on the concourse wall. Every current member of the Boston Red Sox who played for the Sea Dogs has their Portland jersey displayed on the façade of the press box.

Final Thoughts

Hadlock Field is often named among the top minor league ballparks in the nation. This may have more to do with where it is rather than what it is. The facility itself isn’t the most impressive you’ll come across in the minor leagues, but it is filled with enthusiastic, knowledgeable fans having a great time. Couple an afternoon at the ballpark with an evening down at the Old Port, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic Stadium Journey!

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

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