Joseph L. Bruno Stadium – Tri-City ValleyCats
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Joseph L. Bruno Stadium 80 Vandenburgh Ave Troy, NY 12180
Tri-City Valleycats website Joseph L. Bruno Stadium website
Year Opened: 2002 Capacity: 4,500
Enjoy the Show at The Joe
Joseph L. Bruno Stadium is named in honor of the former New York State Senate majority leader who helped secure funding for the ballpark. Constructed in under a year, "The Joe" cost $14 million to build in 2002.
Tri-City refers to the cities of Albany, Troy and Schenectady, which combine to make up the Capital District. The ValleyCats have won eight division titles and three New York-Penn League championships, most recently in 2018.
The franchise began play back in 1977 as the Little Falls Mets. In 1989 the team moved to Pittsfield, MA, where they played as the Pittsfield Mets for a dozen years and as the Pittsfield Astros for a season before moving to the Capital District. The team remains as an Astros affiliate to this day. Among the notable alumni to play at The Joe are J.D Martinez, George Springer, Ben Zobrist and Hunter Pence.
Food & Beverage 5
For a smaller ballpark, the Joe has an impressive array of food and beverage choices. In addition to the typical ballpark fare, there are plenty of regional and unique items to be found.
Buddy’s Grill, located down the right field concourse, has a menu consisting of specialty burgers and that central New York delicacy, spiedie sandwiches. For those fans who haven’t heard of the spiedie, it consists of marinated chicken, beef or lamb served in a sub roll. It’s something not usually found outside central New York, and locals can’t get enough of it.
Other stands offer items that depart from the ballpark norm, such as gourmet mac and cheese, wood fired pizza, bratwurst served with beer cheese and perogies. Fans with a big appetite should head to the Nacho Stand, where nachos and burritos are served in a full-sized batting helmet.
The cola wars are nowhere to be found at The Joe. Instead of Coke or Pepsi, the featured soda at the Valley Cats is RC Cola/Dr. Pepper. Fans looking for an adult beverage will find all the national brands. In addition, local favorite Brown’s Brewing Company runs a stand selling a sampling of their excellent craft brews. Try the ValleyCat Ale, Cherry Razz or Special Occasion IPA.
The ValleyCats staff try hard to make an interesting game day experience at The Joe. Veteran minor league travelers will find much that is familiar here, from the enriched promotional schedule to the on-field contests for younger fans to the active mascots, Southpaw and Pappy.
There is a party deck at the end of the left field concourse. Rowdy’s at the Joe offers full bar service, a deck with tables that overlook the field, and games for fans. Beyond Rowdy’s is a sensory path for younger fans needing a break from the game, as well as a play zone full of inflatables.
Berms in left and right field offer places for young fans to blow off some steam, with a massive group party deck overlooking the action in deep right field. A large video board in left field is put to good use with replays, game stats and sponsor advertisements. There is more than enough going on at The Joe to keep the casual fan entertained.
Bruno Stadium is located on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College, about five miles from downtown Troy and seven miles from downtown Albany. Fans who have not visited the area recently may be surprised with the amount of development that has gone up recently.
Route 4 contains a great many strip malls, with a growing number of dining and lodging options for the visiting fan. Nothing is within walking distance of the ballpark, but the Tipsy Moose, Junior’s Bar and Grill, The Deli and Brew and Kennedy’s Tavern are all a short drive away. Fans looking to stay nearby will find College Suites at Hudson Valley most convenient.
The ValleyCats average in the vicinity of 4,000 fans per game, annually landing in the top three of the New York-Penn League rankings. A crowd at The Joe is similar to many minor league crowds, running the gamut from hard core fans to casual fans to groups and those there just for the party. The ValleyCats, like all minor league teams, market heavily to younger fans and families, and both these groups turn out in abundance.
Bruno Stadium is located on the campus of Hudson Valley Community College, just a few miles from the junctions of Interstates 787 and 90. Located on the eastern edge of campus, there are numerous parking lots a short walk from the ballpark. Lots closer to the park are reserved for season ticket holders and groups.
Bruno Stadium follows the typical minor league ballpark blueprint, with a single concourse atop the seating bowl which stretches from foul pole to foul pole. There are berms in both left and right field, and a party area in left-center field. All seats consist of plastic folding stadium seats. The field is visible from all points on the concourse, but seats further down the lines are not angled towards the infield. An underrated seating area at The Joe are the picnic tables located underneath the scoreboard in left field.
One drawback to the design of Bruno Stadium is that the concourse is very narrow, with many portable stands and other obstacles (party decks, lines to concession stands, tiki huts) in the way. This concourse can get very crowded and become very difficult to navigate at times. Likewise, the bathrooms are on the small side and can become crowded when there is a large crowd present.
Return on Investment 5
Tickets to ValleyCats games range in price from $7.50 for grandstand tickets to $12.50 for premium box seats. Purchasing tickets on game day adds three dollars to your purchase price. If you are a AAA member, be sure to ask for the discount given to members.
Parking is free in the many lots adjacent to the ballpark. If a big crowd is in attendance, be prepared to walk a little bit. Concessions are moderately priced, making a Valley Cats game an affordable entertainment option for baseball fans in the Capital District.
The ValleyCats display their history throughout the ballpark. Check out the Wall of Champions right by the entrance to the ballpark, where league championships and the names of every player to pass through the Tri-Cities on their way to the majors are displayed. The 2018 NY-Penn League banner hangs on the façade of the luxury boxes behind home plate.
A second extra point is awarded for the free programs and many giveaways at the Joe.
While “The Joe” may not stand out from the crowd as a facility, the ValleyCats do a whole lot right at Bruno Stadium. With a game day experience that features a top-notch menu, excellent customer service and numerous extras, a trip to Tri-City is certainly one worth taking.
Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.