Saturday, April 11, 2009


From the tropical delight of Southwest Florida to a Northern New England city emerging from a rough winter ...

This is my third trip to Manchester, N.H., and I'm enjoying the ride. Now that I know my way around a little, it's easier to while away what spare time I've had doing something other than staring at the walls of a hotel room.

Here are some tidbits about the ballpark, horribly named Stadium, but surely one of the finest minor league parks in the nation. Stadium may stretch the limits of the stadium sponsorship concept but the newest ballpark in the Eastern League is a gem.

The stadium sits majestically on the east bank of the Merrimack River, affording fans walking on the third-base concourse superb river views to the north and south.

The newest addition to the stadium is a sports bar and grill that allows fans to eat high-quality food and watch the game from behind the left-field wall. The grill features reasonably priced all-you-can-eat specials every night.

Flanking the restaurant just beyond the wall in left-center sits the Hilton Garden Inn, an attractive six-story hotel with a patio that allows patrons to view the game.

Beyond the hotel, the terrain rises toward the downtown skyline dominated by the Verizon Wireless Arena, which houses the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL, the Manchester Wolves of arenafootball2, basketball games and concerts.

Sixteen skyboxes encircle the stadium from the second deck, separated by an expansive press box.

The playing field has legitimate dimensions in left field, 326 feet down the line and 380 to straightaway left, where it jogs towards a 400-foot distance in dead center field.

Thirty feet into right center, the wall jogs in severely, giving the outfield a Fenway Park look. Consequently, the distance to right field is considerably shorter – 353 feet straightaway and just 306 down the line.

An appropriately named street runs behind the right field wall – Line Drive – parallel to railroad tracks.

A visit to Manchester would be a nice getaway for New Britain-area fans. If you come, visit the Mall of New Hampshire and have lunch downtown at Red Arrow Diner, a classic old-fashioned eatery with the traditional booths and stools reminiscent of the 1950s.

Have dinner at the ballpark. Centerplate, which also manages the food concession at New Britain Stadium, does a tremendous job. Trust me, you won't have to choose between a ballpark frank and second-rate pizza. We're talking sausage and peppers, steak tips, seafood platters and "chowda."

Doesn't if figure. I start to blog and my true passions rise to the surface -- nostalgia and food. The first thing I did this morning was watch "Bonanza" and eat at the Comfort Inn's nifty little breakfast nook, which by the way is complimentary.

Heading home tonight. I'll be cruising down the Mass Pike, listening to the Grateful Dead or '50s Music and thinking about stopping in Manchester, CT, to pick up a Pepe's pizza. Hey, it ain't gonna change. I'm too old and set in my ways for that.

No comments: