As I’ve noted before, I love me an old-school baseball park. Even if, when I get there, the experience isn’t the greatest, there’s still something to be said about an older park.
Take, for example, Centennial Field, located on the campus of the University of Vermont. Originally built in 1906, the field got its current concrete and steel main grandstand in 1922, which replaced the wooden bleachers that burned some eight or nine years before.
The field is home to the Vermont Lake Monsters, the short-season Single-A team of the Oakland Athletics. UVM no longer has a baseball team.
This field is throwback central, though.
There are no bells and whistles. The souvenir store isn’t accessible by walking in, rather it’s under the grandstands with a couple of concession-style windows where people will come and look and decide if they want to buy or not. Customer relations is housed in a trailer. The concession areas were what you would expect to see at a ballpark like this. When I say old school, folks, I mean old school.
The food selection was normal and there was a decent beer selection, which is understandable (and somewhat expected) considering how well-known Vermont is for craft beer.
Turns out, too, the Lake Monsters draw crowds. For most of this summer and these baseball trips, I picked tickets online ahead of time. However, the system Vermont uses doesn’t allow you to pick seats, so we opted to get them at the door. We were just going to get some general admission seats … and were told there weren’t two seats together.
To which I replied, “In general admission?”
He said “yes.”
Maybe it’s the lingo, but I’ve always thought GA tickets were sit wherever you want – first come, first served – in the GA section. Apparently not here.
Either way, we ended up getting a pair of seats together in the grandstand.
The sight lines aren’t all great (we were near a large beam, which holds the grandstand roof up – obstructed view?), but it’s not a bad place to watch a baseball game. There’s not a lot of glitz and glamor here.
The field layout is a little more older, too, such as where the dugouts are located and all. But, overall, it’s a nice stadium for the level of baseball it houses. The crowds are pretty energetic, too, which makes the overall experience that much better, too
Some cons? Parking. There’s pretty much none at the park and you aren’t supposed to park on the neighboring streets. So what they do is have you park at a parking garage on campus (free) and bus you (also for free) on a shuttle. In the end, it wasn’t too bad, but for out-of-town people coming to watch a game, it’s a tad frustrating. That adds to the end of the game, too, as you wait to pack into the school buses, which double as shuttles, to get back to your car.
One other con, at least for me, was not being able to get my Minor League Passport stamped. Despite being listed as a place where it could be done, nobody there seemed to know about the program or the stamp. An assistant GM did come and chat with me during the game about it and said he was going to look into it, but unfortunately that doesn’t get me the stamp. Maybe in the future if I go again.
Something I noticed about all of this though is the people here are top-notch and friendly. They really make you feel like you mean something, which is nice to see. I have always loved the New York-Penn League (it helps that I covered the Oneonta Tigers for six seasons) and this gives me hope that professional baseball can survive in some smaller
In the end, what you get here is an old-school baseball experience. It’s a nice little spot and worth visiting. On top of that, the Burlington area is really nice and I guarantee you can find places to go, which is even better.
Home of the Vermont Lake Monsters (Short-season A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics)
Visited on: Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014
Opponent: Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Short-season A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians)
Ratings (out of 10)
- Stadium: 7/10
- Concessions: 7/10
- Parking: 3/10
- Ambiance: 9/10
- Friendliness: 8/10
I am embarking on a summer of baseball with the plan to hit a minimum of 10 stadiums this summer. Hopefully, there will be more than that. I will report on each park that I hit on the blog.
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