Can Clipper Magazine Stadium Barnstorm Our Grading Scale?

Review 2 of our Ballpark Tour : Clipper Magazine Stadium, Lancaster PA

Forty-four years after the Lancaster Red Roses were shut down, Clipper Magazine Stadium opened up in 2005, once again bringing semi-professional baseball back to Lancaster County. With a brand new $23 million stadium that could hold up to 7500 fans, there was a lot to be excited about for baseball fans in the county. However, they lost their bid to become an actual minor league affiliate, and instead ended up in the Atlantic League, probably made most famous for Jose Offerman charging the mound in 2007 wielding a bat. My early memories of Clipper Magazine Stadium were tarnished by laughably high food prices and sub par games. Atlantic League lineups mostly consist of nobodies and washed-up pro-ball players, so watching guys like Ryan Minor or Daryle Ward gets old, even though they usually tear up the league. There are no rehab starts or rising stars playing in the Atlantic League, so if you’re looking for some serious baseball, Lancaster isn’t quite the spot for you. However, when you have a crew of guys that include Jonathan Drama, Thurston Howell, Henry Kissinger and newcomers Sitting Bull and Julian Eastman on $2 beer night, you’re bound to have a good time even with the scattered thunderstorms that were predicted for game time. That being said, let’s jump into the actual grades.

800px-Clipper3

1. Accessibility and Parking

Located just off Fruitville Pike/North Prince Street in downtown Lancaster, Clipper Magazine Stadium is accessible by multiple parking lots all around the area. However, unless you live in Lancaster, driving is the only way you’re really going to go to get to the ballyard. I suppose you could take the train because the train station is a five-minute walk from the park, but if you’re that serious about going to a Barnstormers game, you might want to get your head checked. You’d be a fool to not drive though, because any Barnstormers lot is 100% FREE to park in, which is a beautiful thing. If you arrive late you might find yourself parking far away with a 5-10 minute walk, but you don’t have to pay. And, there’s not just a main gate entrance, but one in center field as well to shorten your walking distance. It can be kind of a jam to get out if it’s a packed out close game, but with a rain delay and a Thursday night I got out of the lot in 30 seconds flat. Free goes a long, long way, ladies and gentlemen. 9.5/10

2. Tickets

For the six of us going to the game, we were coming from four different directions so it was imperative to have the physical tickets in our possession before game time, as we’d all be arriving at different times from different places. We bought second row field box seats for $13 (for a dollar less we could have sat six rows back, no thanks) plus $2 to mail them to us, and a $1 service charge on each. I could have literally put my arm out and touched the on-deck batter for the visiting Long Island Ducks, because as nobody was in the seats in front of us, we traded up for first row seats. And for thirteen bucks, I’ll take that any day of the week, especially with how the stadium is built close to the field. At Harrisburg it might not have been worth it, but here it’s a sure thing. We could’ve bought bleacher/grass seats for $7 each and still probably traded up, but at the time of reservation these seemed like our best bet. Physically, the tickets are worse than the Senators though. Ugly font and a bad washed out background, with the obligatory coupon on the back make for nothing even remotely special. Great inexpensive seats and ease of purchase, but ugly physicality and garbage service charges hinder the overall score. 7.5/10

3. Beer and Hot Dogs

We went on Thirsty Thursday $2 beer night, which is going to slightly skew the score because that’s so freaking cheap for pretty much anywhere outside of a distributor. On the first base side (I wish I would’ve discovered this sooner) was Coors Light for $2 and on the third base side where we were sitting was Miller Lite (gross) for the same price from 6-7 PM. They said you were limited to 3, but not only did they never card me, but nobody kept any such tally. Had we been serious alcoholics we could have gone wild, but we limited ourselves to four brews in the first hour and a half. Other than the sale price, it’s $4.50 for a 12 oz domestic or $7 for a 20 oz, or $7.50 if you go to the wrong stand like the genius Sitting Bull. Everything is domestic, sporting a decent selection of standard fare. Coors, Bud and Miller Light are all on tap, along with Redd’s Apple Ale, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Shock Top, Samuel Adams Summer Lager, Third Shift and Yuengling Lager. A few girly drinks like Mike’s Hard and Twisted Tea are available in 20 oz cans for $6.50 as well. Take out the Thirsty Thursday discount, and you have a completely average beer experience, with semi-pro baseball prices, and simply an okay selection. As far as hot dogs go, the story is somewhat similar. You can pay $1.25 for a junior hot dog or $3.50 for a jumbo dog, where, just like Metro Bank Park in Harrisburg, the jumbo dog is a complete ripoff. Points are awarded for Kunzler hot dogs and good buns, but nothing special as far as condiments go. Demerits for a bad deal for the jumbo dog which is all-beef, but those points are gained right back for the cheapness of the junior dog. Play it safe and get two juniors instead of one jumbo, and save that extra dollar for something else. At least the hot dogs were warm and tasty as they should be. Average prices and selection, bolstered by beer specials, cheap junior dogs, and Kunzler. 6/10

4. Architecture and Design

Built to reflect the old brick buildings and warehouse feel of Lancaster’s Northwest Corridor, Clipper Magazine Stadium is a work of art. With design reminiscent of the Major’s Coors Field, the brick facade and steel beams make for a very pretty stadium. The seats are all a nice dark shade of dark green, and there’s nothing tacky about the colors or design. The stadium includes wide concourses and bleacher seats along a grassy hill in left field, where one can sit and heckle the visiting bullpen or left fielder with complete ease. And, over near the Hess BBQ picnic pavilion, there’s more than enough tables and bar style seating to buy food and watch the game from along the right field line. The only drawback is that center field kind of feels like a gaping hole with nothing there, it’s as if they planned to add something but instead just continued the walking path around the stadium haphazardly. 9.5/10

5. Atmosphere

The Barnstormers are very, very family friendly. It’s a serious PG atmosphere, with a few knowledgeable fans in the seats. We even got reprimanded by a father a few rows back for our heckling of the players, which for the most part was fairly innocuous. I’m sure we let a few colorful metaphors loose (I know the indian chief did for sure), but the most offensive thing I can recall saying is that a player was wearing women’s underwear or that their girlfriend was ugly. Of course, Drama had to be the father of our motley crew, apologizing for whatever nonsense we said and claiming he was trying to keep reigns on us. It didn’t help that we were rooting against Lancaster, with only a few Long Island fans finding our jokes amusing. No matter, people in Lancaster absolutely love the Barnstormers. Their players might go in and out every month, and they might not always be a competitive team, but the games are usually well attended with lots of Lancaster gear being sported by fans. Nobody commented on my obvious troll of the fanbase though, as I sported my Sugar Land Skeeters shirt to the game, who are in first place and the only team ahead of the ‘Stomers in the division. The PA system wasn’t terribly special and the music played wasn’t anything memorable. Points for loyalty and well attended games, but that’s about all the positives about the atmosphere. No baseball scholars, or memorable public address moments make for simply an average score. 5.5/10

6. Concessions

There used to be more Lancaster County staples available at the ballpark such as the whoopie pie, but those have since gone the way of the dinosaur, probably due to their incredibly inflated pricing. Turkey Hill Ice Cream is quality and plentiful, as are Auntie Anne’s soft pretzels, both Lancaster staples and relatively inexpensive. Normal ballpark fare such as burgers, fries, and chicken strips are available at prices to be expected ($5.75 for a cheeseburger with all the fixings, $4.00 for a “Normal” french fry). Snacks such as cracker jack, peanuts, chips, and popcorn are all there too. I purchased a slice of Parma hand-spun deck oven pepperoni pizza for $3.75, which wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be. I also got what was advertised as “fresh baked cookies” for $3.50, which sadly turned out to be only one cookie (they really have to fix the grammar on the sign) which was large and delicious, but a little expensive for just one. Mr. Howell claimed that his Pulled Pork sandwich from the Carvery which featured Hess’s BBQ was fantastic, which I totally believe upon watching him wolf it down and smelling it. Outside of junior dogs and beer, stick to the Lancaster County specialties, as they’ll give you the most unique and best taste, not to mention bang for your buck. 7/10

7. ADD Generation Appeal

As I said earlier, the Barnstormers are very family friendly. There’s an arcade, a playground and a reservable birthday area for kids to play on. Plus, in right-center field, there is located a pool called “Home Run Harbor” that has bumper boats with water cannons that frequently attracts kids. And in left field, there’s plenty of open grassy space for kids to just play or hang out, chasing each other up and down the hill like sixth graders at a high school football game. You may not think this is enough stuff for kids to do, but that’s only because you don’t remember how much time children can spend at a simple playground. The souvenir shop is also very kid friendly featuring many different toys and stuffed animals, all for outrageous prices. If you’re not making stacks on stacks, I would say keep your kid out of the Barnstormers team store, because you’ll either have to buy a muzzle and blinders for your kid, or spend away your life savings. I feel like there could be more options of things to do, but Clipper Magazine Stadium isn’t terribly large so trying to fit more into the park might make it cheesier. It’s not City Island, but it does a good job of utilizing the space it has. 7.5/10

8. Intangibles

Very spacious and clean bathrooms, with no lines at all. The “push” to turn water on sinks are annoying as sin, but the bathrooms get a perfect score other than that drawback. The seats are large and have cushions on them where we sat, and were so close to the action. The staff was very friendly even to us obvious trolls, wiping our seats off with a Shamwow after the rain delay and even complimenting our obvious attractiveness as fine young men. Even as the ballpark emptied and our heckling escalated, they never said a harsh word to us knowing that we were within our bounds as fans. If we had one dollar bills we would’ve tipped him but at that point we had invested most of our money in our various appetites. The program was free and horrible, and I had to ask an usher for a writing utensil so I could take notes on the game, which he didn’t have nor could he find. I’m not sure why they would give you a scoresheet in your program but not even a chinsy little pencil to go with it. At least it was free, even though once it got waterlogged it turned into garbage. Oh, and a midget usher tried to evict us from our seats, until I showed him the error of his ways and that the tickets the guests he was escorting had were in fact for Tuesday’s game, not Thursday’s. I wanted to ask him what he was doing away from the set of “Game of Thrones” but I was too busy making sure our seats were secure. Great bathrooms, great seats, good staff, cruddy program. 9.5/10

9. Warm-Up Entertainment

At the game’s start, a few boring looking females that worked for the Barnstormers approached us and asked if four of us wanted to participate in an in-between innings game. Of course I was immediately on board, picturing myself getting into a fight with Cylo the mascot like Tucker Max at a minor league hockey game, but all the other morons with me weren’t interested. The girls even told us to keep drinking $2 beers and then play, which I was all for, but the girly men in my group aside from Thurston all declined. I told the girls not to waste their time on wimps such as my friends and they moved on. Usually, the actually fun stadium MC “I.M. FUN” hosts the various games in between innings, but much to my major dismay he was for some reason not in attendance, instead with a pudgy hairy man awkwardly taking his place as Master of Ceremonies, whom we dubbed “I.M. NOT FUN”. The beautiful thing about Lancaster’s in between innings entertainment is that it’s all live, with nothing on their JumboTron to waste my time with. With a rain-delay impacted sparse crowd by the 7th inning stretch, the “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” song was pretty weak as expected. I.M. Fun wins points for just the fact that he’s usually there, because he’s the type of guy that would set himself on fire and run across the field. Take away half a point for I.M. NOT FUN and the Barnstormers brass giving our regular MC a vacation of any sort. 8/10

10. Game Quality

This is where the score suffers. Atlantic League baseball is not very well-played. Yes, their uniforms are very well designed and neat, but the team names are horrendous. The Ducks? Skeeters? Blue Crabs? Revolution? They’re creative, but just plain weird and usually picked via fan vote. Back to the actual game though, the quality is just bad. Lots of walks, full counts, swings and misses, errors, misplays and mental mistakes. If you have any major league experience, you’re going to clean up in this league. Bill Hall and Ramon Castro both play for the Ducks and were responsible for all of the 3 Long Island runs which propelled them to victory. Castro homered to right and Hall hit a towering ground rule double to left, which everyone thought was a home run. The Barnstormers’ offense couldn’t manage to do much even with opportunities aplenty, and there were a fair amount of fundamental lapses during the game. It wasn’t quite Little League, but the emphasis in Semi-Professional should be on the “semi” part. 2/10

EC:

The fact that by the fifth inning we owned the third base seats is worth two points of extra credit alone. With a sparse crowd because of the weather and it being a Thursday night, our presence was felt up and down the line by everyone within listening distance. Whether in reality that’s a good thing or not, I’m awarding it points because I had a straight up blast. +2

I’m also awarding three additional points of extra credit simply because I had a great time and I feel like the score should be higher. Even though the players are bad or washed up, you’re really not going to an Atlantic League game to see the players. There’s bound to be washed up ex-Major Leaguers on both squads, and it’s fun to see where they’ve ended up after their good playing years have come to an end.  +3

Final Score : 77/100

Conclusion: Clipper Magazine Stadium is a very pretty place to go see a semi-professional baseball game at for inexpensive seating wise. It’s a great stadium with a loyal fanbase and friendly staff, that is very family friendly by keeping even us boys at a PG rating several beers deep. However, if you’re in it for the baseball or saving money on concessions, this is a place to avoid. The regular ballpark fare’s quality isn’t up to the prices unless you know specifically what to get as I’ve managed to detail above. My advice is to eat beforehand and buy only one or two things to consume at the game, unless you specifically go on cheap beer nights as we did. The Barnstormers offer a great public hangout experience, if not the best baseball experience around. On a regular night, $20 will get you a great ticket, a beer, and two junior hot dogs, and you’ll have a great time. If you’re not the biggest baseball fan, or are looking for a place to take your family, I definitely recommend Clipper Magazine Stadium as the ballpark to visit so far in the Susquehanna Valley.

My Expenses

1. Ticket – $13

2. Convenience Charge + Mail Charge – $1.33

3. 4 12 oz Miller Lite Drafts (Specials Night) – $8

4.  20 oz Redd’s Apple Ale – $7

5. Slice of Pepperoni Pizza – $3.75

6. Large Chocolate Chip Cookie(s)(screw the grammar on the sign) – $3.50

7. Junior Hot Dog – $1.25

8. Jumbo Hot Dog – $3.50

My Total Expenses – $41.33

Compared to the Senators, I spent an extra $5.33 and got two and a half more beers, a cookie and a junior hot dog, if we equivocate the pizza slice and jumbo hot dog from the Barnstormers with the regular hot dog and chicken sandwich from the Senators. I got a way better and more expensive seat in Lancaster, and all those extra concessions for a mere $5 and chump change. I still think that their food is overpriced, but when you don’t have to pay for parking or a program, you have money freed up to spend on whatever else you desire.

Ballpark Review #4 – Oriole Park at Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles), Baltimore MD

Ballpark Review #3 – Sovereign Bank Stadium (York Revolution), York PA

Ballpark Review #2 – Clipper Magazine Stadium (Lancaster Barnstormers), Lancaster PA

Ballpark Review #1 – Metro Bank Park (Harrisburg Senators), Harrisburg PA

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3 thoughts on “Can Clipper Magazine Stadium Barnstorm Our Grading Scale?

  1. Pingback: You Say You Wanna Revolution? : A York Ballpark Review | All We Are is Entertainment

  2. Pingback: Is the Harrisburg Senators Stadium Money in the (Metro) Bank? | All We Are is Entertainment

  3. Pingback: A Trip Down Memory Lane: Ballpark Review of Orioles Stadium at Camden Yards | All We Are is Entertainment

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