Summer of Baseball: Altoona gives a great atmosphere
Note: I am finishing my 2015 Summer of Baseball stadium reviews over the next month or so. I have three left, including the one below. I also have a review I am planning for something else. so this should take us into March and closer to the start of the 2016 season!
Years ago, I worked back-to-back summers at the local college as a painter. Basically, we painted dorm rooms.
One of those years, we had the radio on each day with the station out of Binghamton. The local Double A team – the Binghamton Mets – was set to host the Altoona Curve. So the radio hosts were being funny – or attempting to be – by telling a joke with Altoona (though, to be fair, this joke has probably been told with so many different towns…) and it went like this:
“Did you know the toothbrush was invented in Altoona? If it was anywhere else, it would be the teethbrush!”
The radio hosts, of course, got a good chuckle out of that.
That was my first true connection with the Curve until a few years later, when I worked for my local newspaper and we had a kid from an area school playing for the Curve.
It’s truly one of baseball’s best names for sure. And for a few years, I’ve heard from a friend how good of a stadium Altoona had. This past August, I finally had the chance to see a game at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
Opened in 1999, PNG Field is really a gem. There are great sightlines throughout the park. The upper concessions aren’t in an open concourse, but the lower ones are, so it’s possible for you to grab a bite to eat and still be able to see the game.
A berm in part of the outfield allows people to sit out there for the game, too.
We sat down the right-field line. In fact, we were the last two in the row in the second tier of seats. So it was a nice spot. No worries with sun and a good view of the field. One really cool feature of PNG Park is beyond part of the outfield wall is Lakemont Park, which features many amusement park rides and such. One of those – a roller coaster – is viewable over the right-field wall at PNG Park, which is really cool.
Everybody I encountered at the park was friendly. It was easy to navigate and there were a few things to see when we walked around. The team store was decent, but it was the end of the year so there weren’t a lot of choices. It looked like the stock was down, and that makes sense with how many games were left and such.
Food choices were pretty solid. Of course, I went with hot dogs and they were pretty good. I got to some ice cream at the end of the night, too, and enjoyed that. It also looked like there was a decent beer selection. Downstairs, they have the normal concession stands, but they also have stand-alone stands, for things like Italian ice etc.
There’s a bar/restaurant sort of thing down the left-field line, too, but I didn’t get out there to look at it too closely. People were there for it though. It may have just been a fancier looking concession area, but it seemed like people enjoyed it.
The area seems to really support the team and the night we were there (fireworks night), they came out in droves. There’s a negative to that, though. Parking was tough. They have a three-tiered parking garage and only a couple of lanes going in. It took us quite a while to get in, which is a little frustrating. Where the field is situated, there aren’t a lot of open spots around to park.
On the flip side, we were smart and decided to bolt before the fireworks. We watched them from the parking garage and were out of there before the crowd started to pour out of the stadium. That’s a good thing as we were heading back to New York that night and had a ride ahead of us.
Overall, though, this was a really good experience. I’d definitely come to the park again as it’s a nice place for a game. There are enough spots to find shade, too, so that’s always a bonus. PNG Park is good for baseball, but also has enough space and such for families to come and enjoy, even if there’s a few little ones who want to run around some.
Peoples Natural Gas Field
Home of the Altoona Curve (Double A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates)
Visited on: August 29, 2015
Opponent: Trenton Thunder (Double A affiliate of the New York Yankees)
Ratings (out of 10)
- Stadium: 8/10
- Concessions: 8/10
- Parking: 7/10
- Ambiance: 8.5/10
- Friendliness: 9/10
I am continuing the Summer of Baseball from 2014 and hope to blog about each new stadium I visit in 2015. Ones visited in the past can be viewed linked up in the 2014 version.
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