Skylands Stadium – Sussex County Miners
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
Skylands Stadium 94 Championship Pl Augusta, NJ 07822
Year Opened: 1994 Capacity: 4,200
Mining Success at Skyland Stadium
Between 1994 and 2001, seven new ballparks were built in the state of New Jersey. While costly ballparks in Camden, Newark and Atlantic City are now gone or on life-support, baseball continues to be played in tiny Augusta. While Skylands Stadium’s original tenants, the New Jersey Cardinals, are long gone, the Sussex County Miners of the independent Frontier League have taken up residence in northwest New Jersey.
The Miners debuted in 2015 in the independent Can-Am League, winning the league title in 2018. Before the 2020 season the Can-Am League merged into the Frontier League, only to have that season cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Food & Beverage 3
There are a pair of concession stands at Skylands Stadium, one on each side of the ballpark. The menu doesn’t stray far from usual ballpark fare, with hot dogs, burgers and chicken fingers anchoring the choices. During Stadium Journey’s visit near the end of the 2021 season only one stand was open, resulting in long lines throughout the game. On certain weekend nights the menu is greatly expanded when local food trucks set up shop behind the left field grandstand.
Right near the main entrance to the ballpark is a stand operated by Yuengling Ice Cream, which sells a variety of their homemade flavors and milk shakes.
Coca-Cola products are featured at Sklyands Stadium. If an adult beverage is more your speed, grabbing a beer doesn’t get much easier than in Sussex County. A small beer stand is located right behind home plate, so you can watch the game while you wait for your beverage. In addition to your standard Bud Light, Coors Light and Michelob Ultra, you can try a Miners Ale, available only at the ballpark.
You might think that a place like Sussex County would be a laid-back, relaxing place to take in a ball game. You would only be partially right. While there isn’t a whole lot of distractions here at Skylands Stadium, the game day experience is a bit more in your face than you might expect.
In addition to their plaid-shirted mascot Herbie, a pair of superfans roam the walkway of Skylands Stadium throughout the game, making noise and exhorting the fans to get up out of their seats and make their own noise. Whether you find these superfans entertaining or annoying may depend on how close they are to you. Overall, the fans react well to their antics, and they do add some buzz to the crowd.
The volume is turned way up here at Skylands Stadium, and the team is not afraid to fill every quiet moment with some type of sound effect or music. There’s not a lot of down time at a Miners game. If you have younger fans attending with you, a trip on the mining train or a visit to the gemstone activity may be on your agenda.
If you find yourself in the area around Halloween or Christmas, stop by Skylands Stadium and check out the Jack-O-Lantern Experience or the Christmas Light Show and Village. Both events transform the ballpark into seasonal attractions and draw big crowds to the ballpark during the offseason.
As you might expect from a ballpark built in the middle of a cornfield, there’s not a whole lot in the immediate vicinity of Skylands Stadium to attract the visiting fan. The Sussex County Fairgrounds next door hosts the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show and the New Jersey State Fair every August.
Fans looking for places to eat before or after the game may want to check out Yetter’s Diner or Double S Smokehouse a short drive from the ballpark.
What the area may lack in big-city amenities, it more than makes up for in charming small towns and quaint shops. If this is your speed, you’ll love visiting Sussex County.
2021 was the first season in the Frontier League for the Miners and the fans have represented themselves well. The team is drawing over 1,600 fans per game, which lands the Miners in the middle of the Frontier League rankings. These attendance figures are virtually identical to the Miners’ final season in the Can-Am League.
A Miners crowd is pretty typical of what you’ll find in minor league parks across the country, with a mix of die-hard fans, families and casual fans enjoying a night out filling up the ballpark. The fans at Skylands Stadium are into the game, vocal in support of the home team and knowledgeable about what is going on down on the field.
Skylands Stadium is located in rural Sussex County in northwest New Jersey. The ballpark is located next to the Sussex County Fairgrounds, near the intersection of routes 206 and 15. The nearest interstate, I-80, is about a half an hour’s drive from here.
The parking lot is not paved and requires caution while walking from your car to the ballpark. The entry plaza is attractive, with the Fire Pit Globe the centerpiece. Also located here are the team store and the ticket offices.
Once inside the ballpark, there is an open concourse which houses the concession stands and rest rooms. The field is not visible from here, but there are several vomitories which lead inside the ballpark. The seating bowl, which is dissected by a walkway about halfway up, stretches from shallow left field around to shallow right field.
Most seats are molded blue bucket seats, with a couple of sections of metal bleachers on either end. A patio loaded with picnic tables for group outings is located in right field.
Return on Investment 3
Lower-level tickets at Skylands Stadium are priced at $20, and upper-level tickets are $17. The relatively high price of tickets are offset by free parking in the lot adjacent to the ballpark. Concessions are comparable to other minor league venues.
The presence of the Miners superfans are worth an extra point.
The rustic theme to the ballpark and features such as the “Company Store,” the mining activity for kids and a train which takes young fans on rides around the ballpark are worth another point.
The Fire Pit Globe outside of the stadium is a 9,000, 12-foot by 10.5-foot structure that serves as a bonfire. It is a focal point of the stadium and burns at night after games.
A statue of Christopher Columbus that was taken down in Newark’s Xavier Park mysteriously appeared near the entrance of Skylands Stadium late in 2021. We’re not awarding an extra point for this, but it’s an interesting extra.
While many of the ballparks built in New Jersey during the Great Ballpark Building Boom of the 1990s have fallen by the wayside, quaint Skylands Stadium continues to thrive after more than a quarter century of use. While the minor league baseball landscape continues to shift, the Miners continue to create affordable entertainment for northwestern New Jersey sports fans.