Tagged: Alliance Bank Stadium

Sights Along the Way

When my alarm beeped at 4:20 a.m. today, it signaled the start of my first road trip of 2012. And despite the ridiculous hour, I was full of energy as I loaded the car and hit the road. As you may know by now, I’m just starting a road trip that includes seven games in seven ballparks in just four days. The whole itinerary is here, if you want to check it out.

While the evening’s game in Lakewood, N.J. was the priority, I figured I might as well add quick stops at a few other ballparks to liven up my eight-hour drive. My route took me through some familiar territory, so I couldn’t resist making a few detours.

My first stop was at Syracuse’s Alliance Bank Stadium, which I’ve visited twice in the past. If you’re interested, you can read about those visits here and here. It was still early when I pulled up to the ballpark, and it was a welcome sight — my first ballpark of 2012!

This Welcome to Chiefsville sign has been erected since I last visited:

And while I was there, I couldn’t resist taking a quick self-portrait with the auto timer on my camera:

The Chiefs are on the road, but there were a number of presumably injured players’ vehicles in the parking lot:

I’m assuming the players are rehabbing, which makes me impressed with their dedication, as it was only about 8 a.m.

Another hour down the road, and I arrived in Binghamton, site of NYSEG Stadium. I visited there last year, and given the rumors about the Mets’ potential relocation, this might be the last time I see the ballpark:

Like the Chiefs, the B-Mets are on the road, but there were still a number of players’ vehicles in the lot:

(Looking for big rims is the best way to identify a player’s car, I’ve learned.)

NYSEG Stadium was still quiet at this hour …

… and so were the streets around the park:

It’s pretty sweet that Alliance Bank Stadium and NYSEG Stadium are so close to each other, right? Well, drive another hour south, and you’ll come across PNC Field, home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. I visited here last year, but I was really excited to see it again. As you might know, the stadium is undergoing a major renovation that has forced the Yanks to play all of 2012 as a road team. The plan was to park and walk around to check out the changes, but upon arriving, it was clear that visitors weren’t encouraged:

Not to be thwarted, but also not really wanting to break the rules, I headed for the lookout point on a road high above the park to see what I could see. Last year, I took this photo:

And from roughly the same spot today, here’s what the park looks like:

Wow! As you can see, work crews are in the midst of tearing an awful lot of the stadium apart:

The upper deck looks a bit like it’s from a ghost stadium:

The team’s championship and player banners have certainly seen better days:

In general, most of the stadium was rough looking …

… but it was encouraging to see a number of people busily working away:

Oddly enough, the grass is still in immaculate shape and the PNC Field logo behind home plate is pristine:

Today’s lunch was to be the only lunch or dinner on my road trip that I wasn’t scheduled to be at a ballpark. And because it was approaching noon, I ducked over to a nearby Quiznos and grabbed a sub …

… and now I can say I ate this meal with baseball as a backdrop, too!

After lunch, I resumed the drive to New Jersey, and the weather, which had been iffy all morning, quickly got worse:

Eventually, the rain let up a little — enough for my Grade 2 self to take a photo of a sign marking the small town called Buttzville:

I checked into my hotel around 3 p.m., hung out for a bit and then jumped in the car again for the short drive to Lakewood. As you might guess from the time of this post, the BlueClaws game was rained out. But that didn’t stop me from checking out the ballpark and coming across a number of cool things. I’ll sum up my visit in my next post, which will come either later tonight or tomorrow.

If you’re new to this blog, thanks for stopping by. Please follow me on Twitter to catch the latest from my road trip adventure!

Syracuse Chiefs – May 3, 2011

After debating going to Syracuse yesterday morning for yesterday afternoon’s game against Rochester, and checking the weather forecast over and over again, I decided to chance it. The forecast called for showers on and off throughout the day, but the afternoon was supposed to be a bit better. I hopped in the car and took off.

The Canada/U.S. border lineup was nice and short; just two cars were in front of me. After the first one went through, and the next one moved to the wicket, I was first in line.
But then, the car ahead of me didn’t budge. The U.S. Customs agent talked to the driver, then got out, walked to the other side of the car and said something to the passenger. Then, another agent came and talked to the vehicle’s occupants. Suddenly, every agent at the three open wickets left his little hut, moved a large pylon to block his own lane and each disappeared out of view. What the heck?
The car in front of mine was motioned over to the secondary area, so I guess it was getting searched. Here was the scene after the pylon was added but before the car was moved:
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I passed through the border without incident, despite the agent quizzing me on the price of Syracuse Chiefs tickets. (?) After driving for a bit, I stopped at a Gander Mountain to get a few snacks for the road. I was in the mood for some beef jerky, and couldn’t resist getting this:
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Alligator jerky! And as you’ll see below, the first ingredient is actually alligator:
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And guess what? It tasted like … regular beef jerky.
An hour or so later, I arrived in Syracuse roughly 1 3/4 hours before game time. I headed straight to Alliance Bank Stadium, which is just a couple minutes off the interstate.
Like the last time I visited the home of the Chiefs, I arrived before the parking attendants had even set up to charge for parking. I pulled into the stadium lot, which was eerily empty despite it being a game day. And to make matters worse, I saw a bus (presumably Rochester’s) sitting at the front gate.
Turning into the players’ lot to check out the cars, I got a nervous feeling when I saw a Syracuse player come out, hop into his truck and drive away. Uh-oh.
The front of the stadium was deserted, and I got a bad feeling about a postponement:
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Just then, the coach bus pulled away from the ballpark, so I drove back to the information board at the edge of the parking lot to see the following scene:
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Ugh.
Well, you win some, you lose some. I’d have been ticked off if I’d stayed home and the game had been played, so I’m glad I tried. As you can read here, I’ve got a great roadtrip coming up in a little more than two weeks’ time.
Too bad about this one, though. I turned the car around, got back on the highway and was home in time for dinner.

First game of the season

It’s been a busy spring for me so far, so I’ve yet to attend my first Major League or Minor League ballgame. No worries, though; I’ll more than make up for that before long.

My first big road trip (12 games in 12 days in nine cities, for those keeping score) won’t take place until the middle of May. In the meantime, I’m planning to hit next week’s Syracuse Chiefs/Rochester Red Wings game in Syracuse.
I saw both teams at their home ballparks last season, but my visit to the ‘Cuse was pretty uninspiring. Was it an anomaly or is Alliance Bank Stadium a pretty dull park in which to enjoy a game? I’m hoping it’s the former, which is why I’m going to visit again. I’ve compiled most of my research for this stadium based on my last visit, but one more game will really show me what the facility’s all about. Then, I’ll be able to upload a comprehensive fan guide for my website, TheBallparkGuide.com.
In the meantime, if you want to read about my last trip to a Chiefs game, check out the link. In it, you can read about my visit to the players’ parking lot, my alleged sneaking into the ballpark early, read which current Major Leaguer’s autograph I got and see a ton of photos from my visit.
As always, check back regularly and follow me on Twitter to see where I’ll be this summer.

Syracuse Chiefs – July 18, 2010

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:
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And here’s a player’s Cadillac Escalade (note the STRIKE1 license plate … awesome!):
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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:
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And then I walked around the outside of the stadium taking pictures of it from a bunch of different angles:
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I also took some shots of the different sights to see in the pavilion in front of Alliance Bank Stadium:
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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:
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And here’s what it looked like, with no one in sight, from the other side:
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What’s the worst that could happen if I wandered into the stadium early? I headed through the gate and up the ramp:
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The ramp exited on the third base concourse, and here’s what I saw as soon as I looked onto the field:
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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:
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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:
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The gates were almost set to open, but the stadium was still pretty empty:
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Once the gates opened, I made my way to the main concourse area and snapped some photos, including a look at some plaques:
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You have to love the stadium’s 1980s-style International League standings board:
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And scoreboard:
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Eventually, I made my way over to the right field corner. The stadium was still mostly empty:
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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:
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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.
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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:
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And then it was time to play ball!
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Even though it was a perfect day, Alliance Bank Stadium has a calm, laid-back attitude:
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After my typical first inning or two in my seat, I walked around and snapped photos of the stadium from different angles:
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Is it just me, or is the protective netting behind home plate ultra obstructive?
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It sure seems like it in these photos, huh?
Soon, the scoreboards in the outfield fence were updated:
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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 veryquiet crowd. I hope this was atypical, because it’s cool to have a AAA team so close to where I live in Canada.