Ballpark at Harbor Yard     Bridgeport, CT
Dimensions:  LF:  325   CF:  405   RF:  325     Capacity:    5,300    Opened: 1998

Stadium Minor League History:      Atlantic League      1998-present

Current Status:  Home of the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League (Independent)

What's Good:  Although I obviously prefer older ballparks, I found quite a bit to like about Harbor Yard and enjoyed my visit very much.  The new ballpark conforms largely to the standard template for recent 6000-seat facilities -- a wide concourse at the top of the seating area, luxury seating (both boxes and $16 "club" seats) above the concourse, and picnic areas at the ends of the stands.  The color scheme of white, blue, and green not only reflects the team colors, it also offers a refreshing respite from the red brick and dark green so common at other new parks.  But while design-wise the ballpark is nothing out of the ordinary, what makes it such a great place to watch baseball is the setting -- looking out from the stands there's no place this could be other than Bridgeport.  The city's namesake harbor, with its ferries and other boats,  is only a few hundred yards beyond the outfield (and partly visible from the concourse down the first base side), and cars and semis speed along an elevated portion of I-95 beyond the left field wall.  Even more visually exciting is an enormous power plant which dominates the view over the right field corner, and a railroad line that runs mere yards past the outfield fence (most of the train traffic was commuter lines, though a freight train did rumble by late in the game).  The shiny new stadium is both a contrast to the gritty, industrial surroundings and emblematic of attempts to revitalize this part of the city -- it appears comfortable with its urban heritage even as it looks to the future.  Concessions were varied, the local Bluefish Ale was tasty, the souvenir store large and well-stocked, and the ushers and security people -- though seemingly everywhere -- were mostly unobtrusive.  Lastly, the stadium is easy to reach (just off of I-95), and nearby parking was available for $2.

What's Not So Good:  Not too much.  While the physical structure itself is architecturally bland and very similar to several other recent stadia, this is balanced by the terrific setting and sense of place.  As in other newer ballparks -- especially among the independent leagues -- there is a surfeit of corny on-field promotions, sound effects, and goofy mascot behavior, though these certainly weren't any worse than other comparable places.  My largest complaint, though, concerns the steep prices -- $4 for a program and $11 for infield box seats (box seats behind the dugouts and beyond are $9), though to be fair, games in the Atlantic League (with their new facilities and name players and managers) may well justify the additional expense.

This Photo:    July 24, 2000     Bridgeport Bluefish vs. Nashua Pride

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