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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Harbor Park – Norfolk Tides

Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Harbor Park 150 Park Ave Norfolk, VA 23510

Year Opened: 1993

Capacity: 12,059


Ride the Tide to the Ballpark

Located on the Elizabeth River in Downtown Norfolk, Virginia, Harbor Park is the home of the Norfolk Tides of the International League. The Tides were a long-running Mets affiliate between 1969 and 2006, but have been the Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles since 2007. Originally known as the Tidewater Tides in the broader region, the team changed its name to the Norfolk Tides to honor its home city when the new ballpark opened in 1993.

Harbor Park takes its name from Hampton Roads, the natural harbor that divides the region of the same name in two and is located just minutes from the stadium. Fans can see ships of all sizes going up and down the Elizabeth River beyond the outfield fence, from small craft to large ships.

Food & Beverage 5

Harbor Park has a strong variety of concessions sold throughout the concourse. In addition to the usual items such as hot dogs, burgers, and chicken nuggets, fans can enjoy pizza slices from local vendor Ynot Pizza, as well as tacos, quesadillas, cheesesteaks, and more.

Although soft pretzels are a ubiquitous concession item seen at most baseball stadiums across the country, the ones at Harbor Park are unique in that they are grilled rather than warmed in the usual manner. Fans can enjoy these pretzels topped with salt or cinnamon sugar. Alcohol is also available to those of age, while fans can also enjoy soda and bottled water.

Atmosphere 3

Most of the seats at Harbor Park are located below the concourse, although there are a few seats above it further down the lines in addition to the luxury suites closer to home plate. Although the third base seats will be in the sun during the game and can get very hot during the summer, they also offer the best view of the Elizabeth River. Unfortunately, the view has been obstructed somewhat by a large new scoreboard the team constructed in right-centerfield, but it is still one of the best views of any baseball stadium in the nation.

The team has the usual between-inning contests on the field, although they do not distract from the game itself. They have two mascots, Rip Tide and Triton, who roam the stands throughout the game interacting with fans. As a nod to Norfolk's nautical location and proximity to several naval bases (and the occasional naval ship passing beyond the outfield fence during the game), a submarine dive horn plays after Tides home runs.

Neighborhood 4

Harbor Park is located less than a mile from Downtown Norfolk, where you will find many options to eat, drink, and stay. From bars to steakhouses to Italian eateries to local favorite Ynot Pizza (which also sells its food at the stadium), there is something for everyone here. There are also numerous hotels ranging from the Hilton to more budget options. The Virginia Beach Oceanfront is about 20 to 30 minutes away, although the exact travel time will depend on traffic.

Fans 4

The Norfolk Tides draw good attendance to their games, especially on weekends. Firework nights are typically sellout with over 12,000 fans in a standing-room-only crowd. Sundays also draw large crowds, which isn't always the case in minor league baseball, while weekdays will of course draw less. The fans in attendance can be passionate when the Tides have big plays or home runs, but at other times they are more subdued. Of course, it is similar to most minor league parks in this respect.

Access 3

Although Harbor Park is located just off I-264, driving here can still be challenging. The highway can have miles-long backups with beach traffic, especially if coming from the other side of the harbor, in which case you will need to cross the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel to get here. There are several large lots near the stadium where fans can park for $6.

You may have to park far away if you do not get here early, but you should have a space somewhere. If coming from this side of the harbor, there are some public transit options, although driving access is far easier from this side than the other side. The Tide, that is to say, Norfolk's light rail system, not the baseball team who plays here, has a stop right outside the stadium.

A ferry is also available from Portsmouth, across the Elizabeth River, although that does not start running until one hour before the game, the same time gates open, so this may be inconvenient for some fans who want to get here early.

Depending on which entrance you use, you will either need to walk up a ramp or some stairs to get to the concourse, though in the case of the latter, an elevator is available for those who require it. Restrooms are available on both sides of the concourse, including a family restroom down the third base line. Like most of minor league baseball, the Tides have a clear bag policy. While this is frustrating, it is to be expected at this point.

Return on Investment 3

Tickets are available for between $15 and $16 depending on where you sit. Given the small difference, we suggest paying the extra dollar for lower-level seats rather than sitting above the concourse way down the lines. Unfortunately, the team sells tickets through Ticketmaster, so expect to pay fees that bring this rating down. Parking is $6, which is a bit high but not outrageous given the park's location. Concessions are about average as well. Although there are minor league parks that offer better value, a trip to Harbor Park certainly won't break the bank.

Extras 3

One star for the gorgeous view of the Elizabeth River and passing ships beyond the right field fence. A second star for the team store located behind home plate on the concourse. A third and final star for the Tidewater Baseball Hall of Fame just inside the home plate gate, before you go up the stairs to the concourse.

Final Thoughts

Although traffic can be a nightmare in the summer to get to Harbor Park, once you deal with beach traffic and make it in, you will find that it has all been worth it. A Norfolk Tides game is a family-friendly and affordable way to spend a summer afternoon or evening in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.

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