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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Meritus Park – Hagerstown Flying Boxcars



Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

Meritus Park

50 W Baltimore Street Hagerstown, MD 21740



Year Opened: 2024

Capacity: 4,000

 

Flying Baseballs and Boxcars in Hagerstown

Baseball has been played in the city of Hagerstown, Maryland, for over a century. The Hagerstown Hubs called several parks home for their first few years before moving into the newly constructed Municipal Stadium in 1930. Various minor league teams would play here over the years, with the most recent tenants being the Hagerstown Suns, who played there from 1981 to 2019, playing in the Carolina League, Eastern League, and South Atlantic League over the years. However, the Suns were eliminated as part of the contraction of 43 minor league teams in 2020.


The push to bring baseball back to Hagerstown began almost immediately, and city leaders agreed to the construction of a new stadium, Meritus Park, in downtown Hagerstown. The Hagerstown Flying Boxcars moved into Meritus Park and joined the independent Atlantic League for the 2024 season.


The Flying Boxcars nickname pays homage to the Fairchild C-119, a military aircraft that was built at the Fairchild Aircraft Plant in Hagerstown between 1949 and 1955.


Food & Beverage 5

Meritus Park has a wide range of concessions that are sure to satisfy every fan's craving. Most concession stands are located on the concourse level. One stand features crab cake sandwiches and other local Maryland favorites. Another features barbecue items such as brisket nachos and pulled pork sandwiches.


Ballpark classics such as hot dogs, burgers, and chicken tenders are available as well. Cheese and pepperoni pizza are available, but with a twist, they are served Detroit-style, with a thick rectangular crust similar to the Sicilian pizzas that are ubiquitous in the New York City area. This does seem a bit out of place in Western Maryland, however. For fans with a sweet tooth, soft-serve ice cream is available in cone or helmet sundae form.


Alcohol is available at several stands on the concourse level and the lower level near the entrance. There is a bar down the right field line on the lower level, and while it does not offer a good view of the field, there are plenty of screens to watch the game on. A pubhouse area is located in right field and also serves alcohol, and offers views of the game through the outfield fence.


Prices are on the high end but not outrageous, and prices seem to be going up everywhere now inside and outside stadiums. The food is good, and the price is not unreasonable compared to what you'd pay elsewhere for this kind of food.


Keep in mind that Meritus Park is a cash-free facility, so the concession stands only take credit cards.




Atmosphere 5

The main gate to Meritus Park is next to the ticket window in centerfield on the lower level. From there, you will walk past the pub or bar, and go up stairs or an escalator to the concourse level. There are also wheelchair lifts for those who require them. On the concourse, you will find most concessions and then can walk down to your seats. Other than some group areas with tables, all seats at Meritus Park are chairbacks.


You will have a good view of the field no matter where you sit, but netting runs from foul pole to foul pole, so unless you are sitting in the group areas in the outfield, you will be watching through the net. It is not too obstructive, however, so most fans won't mind. The upper rows of sections 206-212 are under an overhang. This will put you in the shade during day games but won't obstruct your view of high-fly balls. It is a good place to sit to stay cool on a hot summer day.


The bar area down the left field line on the lower level also has couches to sit on as well as foosball tables. However, it is hard to see the game from here except on monitors. It seems to be more of a social area than a place for serious baseball fans who want to watch the game.


Numerous on-field activities are going on between innings at a Flying Boxcars game. You will of course see the classic games such as the build-a-burger race and the hat shuffle on the scoreboard, but there are some unique ones as well. In one contest sponsored by a local donut shop, contestants attempt to eat a donut off the end of a fishing rod. Whoever finishes their donut first, or eats the most donut in the allotted time, wins.


The Flying Boxcars have a mascot named Stryker, who is meant to be a fighter pilot. Stryker runs onto the field before the game and roams the stands interacting with fans. There is also an on-field mascot race sponsored by a local liquor store in a tradition that dates back to the days of the Hagerstown Suns at Municipal Stadium. A can of beer, a bottle of beer, a glass of beer, and a pink elephant (like in Dumbo) race around the field to the finish line while getting into various hijinks. This has always been a fan favorite, especially Ellie the Pink Elephant.



Neighborhood 2

Meritus Park was built in Downtown Hagerstown in an attempt to revitalize the area. While safety concerns are overblown and should not be an issue, the area has seen better days. The hope is that the ballpark will revive the neighborhood, but it is too soon to say if this will happen.


That being said, there are still some options. Bulls and Bears is a pub-style restaurant a couple of blocks from the stadium and is located adjacent to one of the parking garages used for the ballpark. You may even walk through the lobby area of the building it is in to get out of the garage and to the stadium. Broad Axe is another pub/restaurant a few blocks from the stadium.


For fans staying overnight, the Dagmar Hotel is within walking distance of Meritus Park but has a terrible reputation and we do not recommend staying here. However, despite what you may hear, it is safe to simply walk by the hotel on your way to and from your car. There are several better options a short drive away along Route 40, closer to Interstate 70.


Fans 4

In a 4,000-seat ballpark, the Flying Boxcars have been drawing quite well so far, filling up most of the seats, especially for weekend games. Although it may not be a sellout, expect a near-capacity crowd and buy your tickets in advance to ensure good seats. The crowd does applaud after big plays, but as is typical of minor league ballparks, they tend to be pretty casual.


This is especially true in Hagerstown due to all the social areas used for purposes other than watching the game. Even if the numbers show near capacity, there will still be some empty seats as those fans hang out at the bar or elsewhere.


Access 4

Hagerstown is off Interstate 70, via US Route 40 a few miles off the highway. Once you get near the ballpark, there are several surface lots and garages you can park in, some officially sanctioned by the team, others not. Be sure to check and confirm you are legally allowed to park there at that time, as laws can vary.


There is a paved lot immediately adjacent to the stadium, but it is reserved for select individuals. Other unpaved lots are nearby, although these are small and fill up fast. A large parking garage is going up right across the street. When Stadium Journey visited in early June of 2024, the garage was not yet open, but it was expected to open in early July, so we factored that into our rating. If we had to rate this without the garage, we would have taken it down one point to a 3.


Fortunately, there are several other garages as well. The Arts & Entertainment Garage is located along Renaissance Way, while the University Deck and Central Lot are located along Potomac Street. All of these are a couple blocks from the ballpark. The new garage will only hold about 400 cars and will be used for all visitors to Downtown Hagerstown, not just ballpark traffic, so fans arriving closer to game time may need to park here even after the new garage opens.


Payment methods vary depending on where you park - some use the Parkmobile app, while others require you to pay at a pay station upon exiting. Be sure to read the signs to find out where and how you pay. Prices vary depending on where you park, but $5 is a good approximation. It may be slightly more or less.


Although Meritus Park is cashless, the parking is not run by the team, and some garages accept cash at the pay station. Others don't, however, so be prepared to pay by card.


There are stickers with the Flying Boxcars logo and arrows directing you from the parking to the stadium. This is a small but very useful feature.



Return on Investment 4

Most Flying Boxcars tickets are $12. Some seats behind the Hagerstown dugout cost $14-$17, which seems like a waste of money. Concessions are a bit high but not unreasonable in the present environment, and what you will pay for parking is not bad considering the downtown setting. Overall, a Flying Boxcars game is a great value for fans looking to attend a baseball game.


Extras 4

One star here for all the unique areas in the stadium. A kids' play area, a brewpub in right field, and a bar in left field (with couches and foosball) all offer their opportunities for fans.


Check out the model of a Fairchild C-119 (aka a "Flying Boxcar") in right field. It is visible from the stands.


The mascot race is worthy of an extra star here, even if it does have a corporate tie-in.


A fourth and final star for the multiple team stores, one by each entrance.



Final Thoughts

Although Meritus Park doesn't have the nostalgia or history of the old Municipal Stadium, it is a gorgeous new ballpark and one of the top venues in the Atlantic League if not all of independent baseball. This is still a new stadium, so hopefully things get even better as the team settles in. Even if it stays the same, a Hagerstown Flying Boxcars game is a great experience.

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