|Due to cost overruns, construction delays, and political shenanigans, Dunkin’ Donuts Park opened a full year behind schedule. The Yard Goats were forced to play the entire 2016 season on the road, but it appears to have been well worth the wait. Fans packed the ballpark all year long during the inaugural season resulting in sellouts for almost all weekend dates. There many skeptics that were concerned about the downtown location, especially since the team was moving from a very "safe" neighborhood in nearby New Britain. It’s easy to see why fans flocked here - this is definitely one of the finest double-A ballparks in the country.
- The best feature is definitely the numerous different seating options available. For a minor league, ballpark I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many choices. This is good for both the casual fan who likes to move around as well the hardcore fan who wants to stay in the same seat for the whole game. You could come here ten times and watch the game from a different perspective each time.
- The double decked seating in right field is something rarely seen at the minor league level. The seats on the lower level are completely shaded and overlook the home team bullpen. The only problem with these seats in the netting which obscures the views.
- Rail seating options are available almost everywhere in the ballpark including a large section in the outfield and underneath the deck in right field. While they are reserved seats, ushers won’t bother you if you sit in any empty seat. Though I do wish there was more counters along the concourse which fans could just stand it.
- The team has definitely embraced the goats theme. From concession stand names to outside signage to the live goats on hand, you definitely won’t forget the name of the team that plays here.
- The large video board in left field is impressive. However, I don’t like the trend of not having a dedicated linescore. It seems that this should be available at all times.
- The Hartford city skyline can be seen from the third base / left field side of the ballpark. While it would have been nice if the ballpark could have been oriented more towards the skyline, this probably was not possible.
- While team doesn’t have much history yet, there is some remembrance of past professional teams that played in Hartford, like this picture of the 1922 Hartford Senators which Lou Gehrig played for.
- The concourses could have been made a bit wider. With large crowds, it can get quite congested, especially since many fans seem to just stand around. Fortunately, there are many places to explore in the ballpark, so you can probably find a place that isn’t quite so crowded.
- While parking is plentiful in surface lots surrounding the ballpark, the lots are a bit tight as the attendants seem to cram the cars in too close together. Parking costs a reasonable $5.
- The kids play area, located in center field, almost seems to have been an afterthought. The inflatables are red in color rather than then being the team colors, which really makes them seem out of place.
- While all the different seating options are great, I would have preferred to see at least a small grass berm section in the outfield instead of these seats.
At least during its inaugural season of 2017, Dunkin’ Donuts Park was definitely the cool place to be in Hartford. Whether that trend continues in future seasons will be interesting to watch. With a great selection of concessions and so many place to just hang out, I do think it has a chance to remain pretty popular. There are also plans for a neighborhood to be built around the ballpark which would add more restaurants and stores. This would certainly add to the appeal. With how well this franchise drew in New Britain (as the Rock Cats), like so many others, I thought they might be making a mistake moving to Hartford. But if 2017 is any indication, they are going to prove their doubters wrong.
- As with most new ballparks, the array of concessions available is quite impressive. I especially like that all the concession stands have a different name and look. Some of the more interesting ones are Huck’s Hot Corner, Screaming Goat, and Dark Blues Diner.
- The Yard Goats offer two "signature" food items. The first is the Dunkin’ & Chicken Skewers ($10) - this consists of munchkins (small donuts) and chicken on a stick. The second item is the Dunkin’ Donuts Park BLT - this a "sandwich" made of two glazed donuts with bacon, lettuce, and tomato in between.
- The most popular food here appears to be BBQ, which is available at the Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ stand down the left field line. Brisket sandwiches ($10), pulled pork sandwiches ($10), and cracklings ($4) are some of the items for sale.
- Besides the ballpark standards, some of the other unique items include Jamaican beef patties ($4), Philly cheese steaks ($8.25), burritos ($8.25), veggie burgers ($7), boneless wings ($6), lobster rolls ($13), and clam chowder ($5.50).
- Yes, there is a Dunkin’ Donuts stand as well which features pretty much the same menu you would find at any DD locations. Tons of different coffee beverages (both hot and cold) as well as donuts are available.
- The quality of the food I sampled was quite good and the prices probably about average for a minor league ballpark.