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  • Writer's picturePaul Baker

Veteran’s Memorial Park – Sacred Heart Pioneers

Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.14

Veteran’s Memorial Park

85 Eckhart St.

Bridgeport, CT 06606

Year Opened: 2009

Capacity: 500


Pioneer Baseball


Sacred Heart University first fielded a baseball team in 1966. The Pioneers originally competed in Division Two, reaching the D-2 World Series in 1992. In 2000 the school elevated all of their athletic teams to Division One status. After spending more than two decades in the Northeast Conference, the Pioneers will be joining the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in the fall of 2024. Since joining the sport’s top level, the Pioneers have appeared in the NCAA tournament four times, most recently in 2015. Three Sacred Heart alumni (Troy Scribner, Zack Short and Jason Foley) have played in the Major Leagues.


Sacred Heart played their home baseball games at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard in nearby Bridgeport from 2001-2017. When the ballpark was closed in order to convert it to a concert venue, Sacred Heart was forced to play in several area ballparks until a suitable replacement was found. In 2019 the Pioneers found a field closer to home at neighboring Veteran’s Memorial Park, right across the street from the Sacred Heart campus.


Founded in 1937 as Ninety Acres Park, the park was re-dedicated in 2005. The baseball field, built in 2009, is formally named the Perry Pilotti Field after the prominent Bridgeport resident and businessman. Also located within the park are several hiking trails, a disc golf course and soccer fields.


Food & Beverage 0


There are no concessions available here at Veteran’s Memorial Park. Visiting fans are welcome to bring their own refreshments to the game. Many fans stop at one of the food trucks that line up at Veterans Park along Park Avenue to pick up a snack for the game.


Atmosphere 2


One wouldn’t expect an elaborate game day presentation here at Veteran’s Memorial Park. The Sacred Heart staff set up shop in a pop-up tent behind home plate. From here, the student interns play music between innings and keep the streaming services updated. The PA announcer does a nice job with lineups on surprisingly clear temporary speakers. A new scoreboard in right field displays basic game information.


Fans fill up the small bleachers behind home plate or set up their lawn chairs on the hill on the first base side of the diamond. It’s a nice vantagepoint from which to catch a game, and many fans bring their dogs to bask in the sun on a warm spring day. It’s exactly the kind of low-key atmosphere you would expect at a small community ballfield such as this.


Neighborhood 2  


Sacred Heart University is located in the affluent Connecticut suburb of Fairfield. Veteran’s Memorial Park is located across the street, about a mile from the campus in the adjacent city of Bridgeport.


While Fairfield is a really nice place to live (in fact, Money Magazine rated Fairfield as one of the top 50 places to live in the country), it’s not exactly what you would consider a destination city. Fans visiting Sacred Heart will not find many options for dining or lodging close to campus. To the north of campus on Park Avenue is a residential area, and a few miles to the south is urban Bridgeport. Fans looking for places to eat may have to drive a bit. The downtown areas of both Fairfield and Bridgeport have plenty of choices for the visiting Pioneer fan.


Adjacent to the Sacred Heart campus is the Discovery Museum and Planetarium. This attraction features rotating exhibits and interactive educational displays. JP’s Diner, a 50s style full-service restaurant, is located on campus next to the William Pitt Center and Campus Field. If arriving early enough for a weekend game, locals rave about the breakfast sandwiches at The Tasty Yolk, one of many food trucks that set up shop on Park Avenue. Visiting fans looking for some physical activity after a Sacred Heart game can check out the disc golf course at Veterans Memorial Park or the zip lines at Discovery Adventure Park.


Fans 2


The crowd at a Sacred Heart baseball game is a “friends and family” type of gathering. Crowds range in number between 100-200 people. Many of the fans in attendance have a personal connection with the players on the field and are vocal in their support of the home team throughout the game. With Sacred Heart’s schedule consisting largely of local opponents, it’s not unusual to see visiting fans mixed in among the Pioneer supporters.


Access 3  


Sacred Heart University is located in the affluent Connecticut suburb of Fairfield. Veteran’s Memorial Park is located across the street, about a mile from the campus in the neighboring city of Bridgeport. The area is easily accessed by either the Merritt Parkway or Interstate 95. Traffic in this part of the state is often heavy, even on weekends, so allot extra time to arrive at the ballpark.


Parking is available adjacent to the ballpark at the John Winthrop Elementary school parking lot. From here paved paths will take you down a hill to the baseball field. Seating is available on some small metal bleachers located behind home plate. Many fans bring their own chairs to set up around the field. A most popular spot is the hill on the first base side of the field, which offers the best views in the park. Access to much of the grounds is blocked off to fans by ropes. Fans are only allowed to access the area behind home plate and the hill on the first base side of the field.


Unfortunately, the dugout roofs and wrapping have the unintended effect of blocking views of the field from much of the seating area. No matter where you sit at Veteran’s Memorial Park, you will be looking through some thick chain link fencing while you watch the action.


There is a building containing rest rooms at Veteran’s Memorial Park. Unfortunately, the doors to the men’s room did not completely close during Stadium Journey’s visit. Some port-a-johns nearby augment these permanent rest rooms.


Return on Investment 5


Admission to Pioneer games is free of charge, as is parking in the elementary school parking lot next door to the ball field. With no concessions, visiting fans will not spend a single cent while at a Sacred Heart baseball game.


Extras 1


The Pioneers honor their conference title teams and NCAA tournament appearances with graphics on the back of the visitor’s dugout and on the left field. The three Sacred Heart alumni who have reached the majors are honored on the right field fence.


Final Thoughts


Despite improvements in Pilotti Field over the course of Sacred Heart’s tenure here, this remains at best a nice community ball field. Rumors are swirling that the school is looking to build their own facility on or near campus. A permanent and dedicated home is long overdue for the Pioneers squad.


Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.

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