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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Sonny Pittaro Field – Rider Broncs




Photos by Gregory Koch and Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.29

Sonny Pittaro Field 2083 Lawrenceville Rd Lawrenceville, NJ 08648



Year Opened: 2005

Capacity: 2,000

 

Take a Ride(r) to Sonny Pittaro Field

Sonny Pittaro Field is the baseball home of the Broncs of Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. The stadium opened in 2005, and is named after longtime Rider coach Sonny Pittaro, who retired the year before after leading the team to nine NCA Tournament appearances.


The stadium is located at the back of Rider's campus, surrounded by several other fields, including Ben Cohen Field, home to the Broncs' softball, field hockey, and lacrosse teams, as well as the softball field, tennis courts, and track & field complex.


Pittaro Field was briefly home to the Trenton Thunder of the MLB Draft League in 2021 due to ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Toronto Blue Jays were forced to relocate to Sahlen Field in Buffalo due to border closures, forcing the Buffalo Bisons to relocate to the Thunder's stadium in Trenton. With no place else to go, the Thunder played their home games on Rider's campus until the Canadian border reopened and everyone returned to their normal home. However, in terms of both player and fan amenities, the field is nowhere near the level of other Draft League ballparks, all of which were affiliated minor league stadiums until the contraction of 2020.


Food & Beverage 0

No food or beverages are sold at Sonny Pittaro Field, but fans are welcome to bring their own with the exception of alcohol and sunflower seeds. There is a drink machine on site that appears to sell bottled water and soft drinks, but it was not functioning when we visited.


Atmosphere 2

There are several places at Sonny Pittaro Field to watch a game from. Chairbacks and bleachers surround the area behind home plate, although the bucket seats are quite narrow with limited legroom. These seats are all behind netting due to their proximity to the field, but it doesn't obstruct the view too much. There are additional bleachers further up the field, outside the dugouts, which are not behind netting. A scoreboard in left-centerfield shows the linescore as well.


This is a pretty basic gameday experience. Music is played during some breaks in the action, and the PA announcer can be loud at times, almost as if he is yelling into the microphone. There is little going on here besides the game. Baseball purists will enjoy that, while others may get bored quickly.






Neighborhood 3

As Sonny Pittaro is located towards the back of the Rider campus, there is not much else to do in the immediate vicinity. However, if you head back to the main road, you will find several places to eat, hang out, and more. Varsity Pizza is a short drive away and sells great pizza by the slice or as whole pies. The Tastee Sub Shop also seems popular. If you drive about ten minutes into Trenton, you will find many more options as well.


Fans 3

Rider typically draws a couple hundred fans a game. Some of these are friends and family of the players, while others are locals who have been coming to games for years and have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the team and its history. Some former Rider baseball players still turn up for games, and Sonny Pittaro himself has been known to make an occasional appearance at the ballpark that bears his name.


The fans can get loud at times, but are mostly subdued during the game. This is typical of northeastern college baseball.


As the MAAC covers a small geographic footprint, there will often be a good number of fans of the visiting team as well. Rider fans mostly sit up the first base line, while visiting fans sit up the third base line, as that is where the respective dugouts are. Oddly enough, few fans choose to sit in the bucket seats behind home plate even though those are the only proper seats in the stadium - the rest are uncomfortable metal bleachers.


Access 3

Sonny Pittaro and the Rider University campus are accessible via I-295 (formerly I-95 until a few years ago when the designation changed to resolve the infamous gap in the latter.) There are signs directing you to the field once you get on campus if you do not have a GPS. There is a spacious lot in between Pittaro Field and Ben Cohen Field that fans can park in. It is highly unlikely this lot will ever fill up given the small crowds baseball attracts. Even if there are events elsewhere on campus, people attending those will likely not park in the stadium lot as it would be quite inconvenient for them to access the rest of campus.


There are no real restrooms on site but there are a few port-a-potties down the first base line. Players use these too, so you may have to yield to them on occasion.


Return on Investment 4

There is no charge for admission to Sonny Pittaro Field, and you won't spend anything on concessions because there aren't any. Parking is free as well. However, there isn't enough here to earn the top score.


Extras 1

Look for the signage and murals on the outfield walls and dugout honoring Rider baseball history, as well as longtime coaches Sonny Pittaro and Tom Petroff.





Final Thoughts

Sonny Pittaro Field is a typical northeastern college baseball stadium. While the Broncs certainly have loyal and knowledgeable fans, they don't have too many of them. A visit here is a chance to take in a free baseball game and learn a good deal about the team from the others in attendance, which is always a nice bonus. While it may not be the fanciest stadium, Sonny Pittaro Field is an enjoyable place to spend a spring afternoon watching baseball.

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