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
A New Home for the Pioneers
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. The school elevated all of their athletic teams to Division One status in 2000, joining the Northeast Conference. Since joining the sport’s top level, the Pioneers have appeared in the NCAA tournament four times, most recently in 2015. One Sacred Heart alumnus, Troy Scribner, has played in the Major Leagues.
Starting in 2001, the Pioneers played their home games at The Ballpark at Harbor Yard in neighboring Bridgeport. The ballpark, which also served as home to the Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish, was closed in 2017 to be converted to an outdoor concert venue. Sacred Heart was forced to split their 2018 home schedule among several area ballparks, primarily the CCSU Baseball Field. For 2019 the school found a home closer to campus 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 here 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.
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 (quite a surprise), give lineup and PA announcements, and operate the smallest scoreboard you’ve ever seen, which is set up beyond the right field fence. It’s hard to make out from many spots around the diamond.
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 relaxing place 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 atmosphere you would expect at a small community ball field such as this.
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.
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 options for the hungry 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, a food truck that sets 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.
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.
Sacred Heart University is located in the affluent Connecticut suburb of Fairfield. Veteran’s Memorial Park is located across the street from campus, about a mile away 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 a couple of small sets of 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.
Unfortunately, the fencing on the back of the dugouts is wrapped with a tarpaulin cover, which has 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, it was not operational during Stadium Journey’s visit, as noted by the presence of port-a-johns next to the facility.
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.
There’s not a whole lot that can be considered extra here at Veteran’s Memorial Park. We’ll give Sacred Heart credit for finding a nice spot close to campus to use as a home for the baseball team, rather than bouncing around Connecticut like nomads.
While Veteran’s Memorial Park is a nice, quaint community ballpark, it’s not likely to be anything more than a temporary spot for the Pioneers while they await their permanent home. Until then, this is a destination for only the most ardent Pioneer baseball fan or ballpark chaser.