Northeast Delta Dental Stadium – New Hampshire Fisher Cats
Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Northeast Delta Dental Stadium One Line Drive Manchester, NH 03102
Year Opened: 2005
Blue Jays in Red Sox Nation
Located on the banks of the Merrimack River, Northeast Delta Dental Stadium is home to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Fisher Cats moved to Manchester in 2004 from New Haven, Connecticut, and after playing one season at a temporary home, moved into their beautiful new ballpark in 2005. The Fisher Cats have won three Eastern League titles since moving here, in addition to one during their time in New Haven.
For those wondering what a fisher cat is, it is neither a fish nor a cat. Rather, it is a small carnivorous member of the mustelid family, which also includes weasels, badgers, and ferrets, among others. They are native to the forests of the northern United States and Canada, including New Hampshire.
As the ballpark itself has a long and not-very-catchy name, signage encourages fans to refer to it as The Tooth, although this does not seem to have caught on.
Food & Beverage 5
Although Northeast Delta Dental Stadium is a small ballpark, it has an impressive selection of food. The Sam Adams Brewhouse is located in the outfield by the entrance to the ballpark and offers a large selection of beers as well as pub food such as burgers. It opens two hours before first pitch and one hour before the rest of the stadium.
Once fans are able to get into the main part of the stadium, they will find many more options, including ballpark classics like hot dogs, burgers, and pizza, and more unusual items such as mac and mac and cheese. Despite being named for a dental insurance company, the team offers numerous options for fans with a sweet tooth. Ice cream is available, including a helmet sundae, as is fried dough.
Fans will certainly not go hungry here with all of these options.
Fans will enter Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in the left field corner. A small area here is open two hours before first pitch, including the team store, Sam Adams Brewhouse, a stage that has live music on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, and an area in left field where fans can stand and watch batting practice. The rest of the stadium opens an hour before, unless you are a season ticket holder or sitting in a suite or birthday party, in which case you can get into the rest of the stadium a half hour before everyone else.
The vast majority of the seats here are standard chairbacks, although there are some Adirondack chairs in section 101 down the left field line. One of the unique features here is the Hilton Garden Inn in the outfield. Similar to the hotel at Rogers Centre in Toronto, guests staying here can watch the game from their hotel room. The hotel also has an outdoor patio where fans can watch the game from.
The experience at a Fisher Cats game is pretty similar to any other minor league park, with multiple first pitches and on-field contests during the game. One such contest is the veggie race, where kids dressed up as various vegetables race around the warning track.
The Fisher Cats have two mascots named Fungo and Slider who, unsurprisingly, are fisher cats. Officially Slider is Fungo's second cousin twice removed. Fungo and Slider can be seen roaming the stands and hanging out with children before and during every home game.
Manchester is the largest city in New Hampshire and is about an hour northwest of Boston, practically a suburb. In addition to the aforementioned Hilton Garden Inn, there are several other options for fans to eat, drink, and stay nearby. Murphy's Taproom and The Goat are a short walk away, and if you head across the Merrimack River you will find many more options to choose from.
While one might not expect a team in the heart of Red Sox Nation affiliated with the Blue Jays to draw well, the Fisher Cats manage to exceed expectations significantly. The Fisher Cats draw 5,000 to 6,000 fans per game, which ranks them towards the middle of the Eastern League. Of course, weekend games will draw more while weekday games were draw less. The fans clearly care about their team and show this isn't just a social activity but a chance to cheer on the local team as well. Many of them come decked in Fisher Cats or even Blue Jays gear, and the crowd and get quite loud at times. Keep in mind the ballpark only sits 6,500 so 6,000 fans is near capacity and the team regularly exceeds that.
Northeast Delta Dental Stadium is located right off Interstate 293 in Downtown Manchester. While this may seem convenient, it can get tricky once you get close to the stadium. Paid parking is available in the SNHU Garage next to the stadium for $10 the day of the game or $8 in advance. Fans can also park in more distant lots for less or even free, although they will have to walk a bit. Some nearby lots are marked as not for event parking, although fans seemed to be parking in them without issue despite signage warning they would be towed if they did so.
The concourse is wide enough to accommodate all the fans and the restrooms are of a sufficient size as well. The real challenge is getting out after the game, as everyone exits onto a narrow road with pedestrians, drivers, and everyone else trying to go the same place all at once with poorly managed traffic. Once you get out onto the main road, you should be fine, but it can take 10-15 minutes or more for that to happen. Parking in the more distant lots may make it easier, but you will have to do significantly more walking.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to Fisher Cats games start at $10 for seats well down the lines and go up to $16 for seats behind home plate. The team tries to get fans to add $3 to every ticket for assurance, which allows them to exchange the tickets for another game if they are unable to attend, but this is not required. Concessions are affordable, and parking is free if you are willing to walk or fairly reasonable if you are not. This makes a Fisher Cats game an excellent value for fans to attend.
There are several unique features at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium that are each worthy of extra stars here.
As mentioned above, the Sam Adams Brewhouse in leftfield is a unique vantage point to watch the game while getting some food or drink.
The live music on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays is also worthy of an extra star here.
In the same area as the Brewhouse and stage is a unique Fisher Cats Rock Sculpture.
One final star for the banners of former Fisher Cats who have made the big leagues that line the concourse.
While Northeast Delta Dental Stadium may not top anyone's list of best minor league ballparks, there is plenty going on here to make it well worth visiting. While Manchester is clearly in Red Sox territory and a Blue Jays affiliate may seem out of place, the team still has its loyal fan base and manages to create a great gameday atmosphere for all in attendance.