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  • Lloyd Rothwell

MIT Narrabundah Ballpark – Canberra Cavalry


Photos by Meg Miinard, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

MIT Narrabundah Ballpark Kyeema St Narrabundah, ACT 2604

Canberra Cavalry website

MIT Narrabunah Ballpark website


Year Opened: 1987

Capacity: 2,000

 

Canberra Cavalry Baseball

The Cavalry were formed in 2010 as part of the re-birth of the Australian Baseball League for the 2010/11 season. After being largely ignored by previous iterations, the ACT Baseball Association ran a public campaign to ensure the national capital would be included in the new ABL. Despite being the smallest market by far, the Cavs have done an impressive job in building a club capable of on-field success, culminating in both an ABL and Asia Series championship in 2012/13, and drawing strong local community support.

The Fort at MIT Ballpark (also known as Narrabundah Ballpark) subsequently received a $2m investment to support the Cavalry’s entry to the ABL, and the ACT government had previously committed close to $5m for a substantial redevelopment to improve the fan experience. Current capacity is listed as 2,250. The ballpark complex includes three fields, which are well used by local community competitions in addition to the ABL.

Food & Beverage 4

While The Fort is a small venue, there are a variety of offerings befitting a much larger park. Most popular are the Collectable Helmet Deals; vegetable nachos ($17), waffle fires ($15.50), onion rings ($15.50), and beef nachos ($16.50) – all of which you can add a soft drink to for an additional $5. There are also the usual hot chips, hot dogs, pies, and burgers.

Adults can enjoy a drink with beers around $7, spirits $9.50, and wine $6.50. Also popular are slushies – either with or without alcohol. There is now an ATM within the park, so if you haven’t got cash with you you’re still covered.

Atmosphere 3

The laid-back and relaxed atmosphere here is immediately noticeable, but don’t let that fool you; the Cavs do an outstanding job of engaging fans and keeping the crowd entertained. There’s a variety of seating areas, giving a spacious feel, yet a seemingly contradictory intimate atmosphere. The main grandstand is behind home plate, but the concourse runs between it and the field. It is quite small, but fully undercover with reserved seating only. Directly behind home plate is a special members-only section.

Most of the rest of the park is general admission, including bleachers on the first plate line and the third base line. There’s also plenty of standing room which allows you to get right up close to the action. Additionally, there’s two areas that include catering and drinks; the bunker box and the party deck – perfect if you’re in a group and planning a big night out.

The park itself is quite scenic, adding to the relaxed and serene feel. Expect numerous promotions and skits in between innings, along with a singalong to Sweet Caroline, and regular appearances from the mascot, Sarge.

Neighborhood 3

The Fort is a suburban ballpark, meaning there is little on offer in the immediate vicinity. However, there are two affordable hotels within walking distance; the Best Western Plus Garden City (55 Jerrabomberra Ave, Narrabundah), and Ibis Styles Canberra (203 Goyder Ave, Narrabundah).

There are a small number of shops close by and in neighboring suburbs, as well as a public golf course and the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club (although greyhound racing in the ACT is scheduled to be phased out from April 2018). The only restaurant nearby is Knuckles, at the Harmonie German Club (49 Jerrabomberra Ave, Narrabundah).

Outside of this you’re better off heading north towards Barton and the Canberra CBD – a few places worth considering in that area are Canberra Casino (21 Binarra St, Canberra), Mooseheads (105 London Circuit, Canberra), King O’Malley’s (131 City Walk, Canberra), and Honkytonks (17 Garema Place, Canberra).

Canberra is Australia’s capital city, and as such is a veritable goldmine of interesting tourist attractions. We’ve chosen to mention only three here, which should give you a good starting point for your trip. Parliament House (Parliament Drive, Canberra) is open every day of the year excluding Christmas Day. However, if you’re hoping to sit in on Question Time, be aware that parliament only sits around 60 days a year, and is normally in recess during the ABL season. Despite this, it is still worth your time.


In addition, around ten minutes away by car is the Australian War Memorial (Trealor Crescent, Campbell); a museum and archive which chronicles and commemorates those Australians who have served their country and made the ultimate sacrifice – this is an absolute must. Lastly is the National Science and Technology Centre (King Edward Terrace, Parkes). Commonly known as Questacon, the Centre is a large, family friendly, interactive facility designed to inspire and foster interest in science.

Canberra is also home to several other professional sporting teams including Canberra United (W-League) and the Canberra Capitals (WNBL), both of whom are based north of the city. Check their schedules for any potential double header opportunities.

Fans 5

The Cavalry are one of the best attended teams in the league, behind only Perth. Many of the fans we spoke to are semi-regulars, attending numerous games per season. Everyone is friendly and chatty, and happy to engage in friendly banter. Canberra has a friendly rivalry with the Sydney Blue Sox, with the two competing for the Hume Highway Cup. Crowds at The Fort are consistently over 1,000, which for this park is perfect.

Access 2

Canberra is a planned city, and consequently is relatively well spread. The easiest method of travel to a Cavalry game is by car, with plenty of parking just off Goyder St. While there are public busses that pass near the park, they cease early in the evening. A taxi or Uber from the city would take around 15 minutes. If you’re close by, walking is fine. Once inside, the venue is spacious and roomy, and the bathrooms are small but adequate.

Return on Investment 4

Value for money exceeds expectations – adult entry is between $18 and $25 if pre-purchased online, with a small increase if you’re buying at the gate, and a general admission family pass is outstanding value at only $44. In addition, food and beverages are priced fairly, and contribute to making a Cavs game affordable, and a great return on investment.

Extras 2

The team at the Cavalry make it easy to enjoy your visit to the ballpark. The fans and staff are obviously enjoying being a part of baseball in Canberra. Also, the promotions are entertaining, and there is a team store on site.

Final Thoughts

The Cavalry do an outstanding job here at The Fort at MIT Ballpark. The atmosphere is friendly, with an emphasis on entertainment and value for money; a visit to The Fort is well worth the effort.

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