Summer of Baseball: Mahoning Valley leaves a sour taste, despite a nice stadium
I’m torn on Eastwood Field in Niles, Ohio.
There were a lot of good things about the stadium. But at the same time, there were some things that really ruffled my feathers, so to speak. And it’s just small things. But when you have enough of them, it adds up.
To be fair, it was opening night in the New York-Penn League. So I can chalk some of my issues up to that. But some of the others, well, I just think are silly and not necessary. Let me explain with this review what was good and what was bad.
First, the stadium. It’s extremely easy to get to and there’s ample parking. But this is where I have issue No. 1. It’s next to a mall, which means a ton of free possible parking. Except, well, if you park over there, you get charged to walk in.
No, I can’t make this up.
If you walk to the stadium, you get charged $3 per person. So I wonder if somebody lives a little ways away and just wants to walk… they have to pay $3, too? This, to me, is unacceptable. You are charging people an entrance fee no matter if they walk or park. How about this? Up your ticket prices a little and can the fee. It’s stupid and uncalled for. Or, work something out with the mall where you rope things off so people can’t park at the mall and walk in. Or work it with the mall where you can charge people to park there and give them a cut. There are so many ways around this. But to charge $3 for a person to walk into the area? Come on. It’s short-season Single-A baseball.
That made the night start off not-so-good. If a uniformed cop hadn’t been there, I can guarantee one of the two of us would have walked through without paying the fee (not me, I’m unfortunately too nice). Alas, that didn’t matter as there was one there and we paid.
See, here’s the other issue — I’m doing a review on the stadium and I’ve just spend that much time talking about a negative thing. Seriously. Oh, by the way — if we parked in the stadium area, it would have been $3 total in a gated area.
It took us a few to get the tickets because the lines were huge. We saw no fewer than three people get visibly angry because they had been told they were in the wrong line, get to another spot and be told to go back to where they were. Thankfully, the will-call window I had to go to was a short line. In we went, and it was fine and all but … my lord it was a zoo. Again, I realize opening night, but it’s not like it’s the first time the team had been through this.
Lines were immense throughout the whole game. Again, I get with opening night and a lot of people, things might be slower. But this was slow. Like, get in line and miss an inning or two long. I’m there to watch baseball, not sit in line for food. Thankfully, a vendor came around with hot dogs later in the game. I’ll chalk this up to opening night, but it shows me they weren’t prepared.
OK, the field. It’s excellent. I like the feel of the place. The ambiance was pretty solid. Fans seemed into the game, for the most part (though, people in seats next to ours had to move because they double-sold the seats — can’t make that stuff up), and it was a good place to catch a game. The sight lines are solid and you can see the field from pretty much all angles. You’re also pretty close to the action, which is always a nice thing when you are at a baseball game.
The concourse is like many other smaller stadiums in that it’s behind the main area, and not open. Therefore, if you go searching for food and are in line, you can’t see the game. Bathrooms are easy enough to get to and the team store, for a Single-A team, isn’t bad. You actually get to walk in, unlike a few others in the NY-Penn, so that’s a welcomed situation.
One final note, though. I came across many people who worked for the team and I was a little shocked that it felt like it would be a chore to smile or say hi. I said hi to several people and they just kind of looked at me. I asked a few questions and each person acted like they were doing me a favor to answer. Several walked by groups of people with their heads down and didn’t say a word or smile. This wasn’t everybody, but it was enough where I felt like it wasn’t the most friendly place in the world.
In the end, I’d go back to the stadium to see a game, but I’d do it on a slower day and I’d still not be happy about having to pay if I walked in. Like I said, a few of the items I chalk up to opening day (not that I think it’s right), but some of the things just left a sour taste in my mouth.
Home of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Single-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians)
Visited on: June 17, 2016
Opponent: West Virginia Black Bears (Single-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates)
Ratings (out of 10)
- Stadium: 8/10
- Concessions: 6.5/10
- Parking: 5/10
- Ambiance: 7.5/10
- Friendliness: 6.5/10
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