I should preface this day’s breakdown by mentioning the hotel I stayed in the night before. After the Auburn Doubledays game at Falcon Park, I stayed at the Genessee Grande hotel in Syracuse. I booked this hotel on Hotwire, and after losing with my previous night’s Hotwire booking, I definitely won with this one. After Hotwire revealed my hotel as the Genessee Grande, I looked it up and read somewhere that it’s apparently where visiting teams stay when they’re in Syracuse to play against the Orange. When I got there, I have to say I was pretty impressed. This hotel is beautiful and I made out well by scoring it for roughly $100 on Hotwire.
But back to the morning of July 18. I chilled in my room for a few hours in the morning because the Syracuse Chiefs weren’t playing until 2 p.m. I like to get to the ballpark early, as I’ve mentioned, so I checked out around 11:30 a.m. and headed over to Alliance Bank Stadium.
Alliance Bank Stadium is a pretty nice looking ballpark, but it’s located in an odd area. You get off the interstate, drive behind a farmers’ market type of place, then a bus station, then across a railway, then you reach the stadium. Despite the fact that it’s in the middle of nowhere, it’s pretty exciting to pull up to. Alliance Bank Stadium
has turret-shaped structures, somewhat giving it the look of a castle. The parking lot is giant, and I think I was charged $4 or $5 to park. I was one of the first dozen cars in the lot.
If you pull into the stadium’s parking lot, the fans are meant to park straight ahead and to the right. But if you turn to the left, it’s the players’ parking lot. There’s no barrier or guard blocking the entrance, and while I wouldn’t advise parking here, you can definitely drive right in and check out the cars. (If you’re there early enough, you can get players’ autographs as they walk across the lot.)
Here’s the sign pointing out where the players park:
And here’s a player’s Cadillac Escalade (note the STRIKE1 license plate … awesome!):
I drove around the players’ lot for a few minutes and checked out the cars. You can sure tell the vehicles of high draft picks who’ve earned a huge signing bonus. Lots of nice vehicles and then a bunch of pretty plain cars and trucks. After I’d seen what I wanted to see, I drove back to the main lot and parked. I walked up to the stadium’s ticket office and bought a front-row seat on the visitors’ side. The Pawtucket Red Sox were in town and I wanted to get a few Red Sox autographs, if possible. After I got my ticket, I took the obligatory (and apparently, out of focus) ticket shot:
And then I walked around the outside of the stadium taking pictures of it from a bunch of different angles:
I also took some shots of the different sights to see in the pavilion in front of Alliance Bank Stadium:
The gates were set to open at 1 p.m., but shortly after noon, I noticed that the third base gate was open. There were a bunch of people lined up at the main gate directly behind home plate, but the third base gate was pretty quiet. I think because this gate is closest to the players’ and staff parking lot, it’s how staff get into the stadium. Here’s what it looked like:
And here’s what it looked like, with no one in sight, from the other side:
What’s the worst that could happen if I wandered into the stadium early? I headed through the gate and up the ramp:
The ramp exited on the third base concourse, and here’s what I saw as soon as I looked onto the field:
Success! Now, I’m not advocating sneaking into stadiums early. But I didn’t really “sneak in.” A gate was open and I went in. Lots of staff walked by me and didn’t say anything. There were some fans milling around at this time, too. I assume they were season’s ticket holders who may have gained early entrance. Anyway, I stood (OK, OK, I hid!) behind a pillar on the third base side and snapped photos of the Chiefs warming up. Eventually, an usher came along to wipe down the seats, and he and I talked about baseball for a few minutes. It was still well before the gates opened, so I guess he wasn’t too concerned about me being there.
I then climbed up into the stadium’s upper deck and took a couple more photos:
I love the outfield fence at Alliance Bank Stadium. There are some neat championship displays, some stuff honoring the team’s retired numbers and a cool, Fenway-style scoreboard of International League scores. It’s also neat to see the team cares about its fans enough to give them MLB updates about the teams they care about: Washington (Syracuse’s parent club), the Yankees and Red Sox. Here are some pictures of the fence:
The gates were almost set to open, but the stadium was still pretty empty:
Once the gates opened, I made my way to the main concourse area and snapped some photos, including a look at some plaques:
You have to love the stadium’s 1980s-style International League standings board:
Eventually, I made my way over to the right field corner. The stadium was still mostly empty:
Then I went down to my seat to await the Red Sox for autographs. They were still in the clubhouse, because the dugout was empty:
When they came out, I snapped a decent photo of the Pawtucket starter, Robert Coello. Coello was drafted as a catcher in the 20th round of the 2004 draft by the Reds.
Afterward, I was able to get Jed Lowrie to sign a baseball card. Pretty cool, especially since he was called up later that summer.
Soon, it was time for the national anthem:
And then it was time to play ball!
Even though it was a perfect day, Alliance Bank Stadium has a calm, laid-back attitude:
After my typical first inning or two in my seat, I walked around and snapped photos of the stadium from different angles:
Is it just me, or is the protective netting behind home plate ultra obstructive?
It sure seems like it in these photos, huh?
Soon, the scoreboards in the outfield fence were updated:
Keeping track of the Major League scores was almost more exciting than the game itself. Syracuse won 3-0 on four hits in a snoozefest.
Alliance Bank Stadium is a beautiful facility with plenty going for it. I’m definitely going to visit it again this spring and take in another game and can’t wait to do so. My issue with it during this visit, however, was the fans. I hope my experience wasn’t indicative of a typical Chiefs game, but no one seemed into it! There were far more Syracuse Orange shirts and hats in the crowd than Chiefs stuff, and it was a very quiet crowd. I hope this was atypical, because it’s cool to have a AAA team so close to where I live in Canada.