Stadium Review: Blair County Ballpark Home of the Altoona Curve

Altoona Curve

Image via Wikipedia

Blair County Ballpark gets its first praise from this reviewer from the title of the stadium because they have not yet followed suit with many other major and minor league teams and sold the naming rights to their stadium. This is not to say that it will never happen, but it is good to see that there are some modern stadiums around that still have names that are relevant to their community.

The ballpark was built for the start of the 1999 season, which was the inaugural season for the Altoona Curve. The Curve is the AA affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates and plays in the 12 team Eastern League. During their short tenure, they have had some success on the playing field as they have reached the Eastern League playoffs various times during the last decade.

Blair County Ballpark
Image via Wikipedia

Blair County Ballpark can be seen from the freeway when driving into the city and even the outside of the structure is picturesque. When viewing the ballpark from the road, one would not guess that it is for a AA team as it seems suited for at least a AAA ball club from afar. The entire ballpark is made of bricks and the pillars that surround the outside resemble designs of stadiums from many decades ago.

There is no doubt that the members of the Curve provide a great place for families to enjoy themselves. There are many places for children to have a good time if they are having a hard time sitting still throughout the contest. There is a kids’ play zone down the right field line which features carnival games such as trying to knock metal bottles over with a ball (just like Roy Hobbs did in the classic baseball novel and movie the Natural) or attempting to throw a ring over the neck of a bottle.

Also in the kid zone are a number of inflatable apparatuses where children are welcome to bounce around with their friends and let out some of their pent up energy. Blair County Ballpark also features a facet that many would not expect beyond the right field wall and that is a full blown wooden roller coaster. Children are welcome to use the roller coaster during the game, although they technically have to walk outside the stadium in order to get on it, and they are often accompanied on their ride by one of the team’s two mascots.

While the children have their place for fun, the Curve did not forget that adults sometimes need something else to enjoy when taking in a night out besides simply sitting and watching a game. In order to appease these people, the Curve installed a deck down the left field line equipped with a bar that sells a variety of adult beverages. The deck has many tables that are chest height with a great view of the field so fans can relax on the deck and still be able to follow the action.

seating section

Image via Wikipedia

Another surprising entity of the ballpark is that even though it is for a AA team, it features two tiers of concourse. This gives fans more of an opportunity to be able to move around without feeling congested during the contest and it also gives the Curve more places to be able to market their merchandise or food.

Further down the left field line, fans will also find picnic tables where they are welcome to sit in the sun and enjoy their ballpark food while still being able to see the action on the field. There are also picnic tables featured on the lower level tier of the concourse where individuals can enjoy their food, or where groups can reserve a section for their party.

In addition to being a beautiful place to take in a game, the Curve has put together a very affordable experience for those who are interested in entertaining themselves or their family. While many minor league teams sell tickets for no lower than $10, the Curve offer various places where fans can purchase tickets for around $8. Even though the team shop is not as expansive as others at this level, the prices of Curve merchandise, not those sanctioned by MiLB, are extremely reasonable. The price of food is another thing that should surprise many fans as it is much less expensive than even other teams in the Eastern League. For example, the price of a 16 ounce beer is just $4.

Parking is conveniently located right next to the stadium so the walk is short for all fans, even those who are not season ticket holders. As with everything else at the ballpark, parking is also inexpensive as it is just $2 to use aforementioned lot.

Since the ballpark is located relatively close to Pittsburgh, Curve fans can count on their team having the security of an affiliation with the Pirates for quite some time. The two organizations recently announced that they are going to lengthen their affiliation through 2014, but the Pirates have stated that they are sure the affiliation will go much longer than the next five years.

Altoona is the perfect place for a minor league team and both the fans and the team seem to have a great relationship that has made the Curve a successful organization over the past decade. There is no doubt that most baseball fans would enjoy a trip to Blair County Ballpark as it does a great job of bringing new age design and historic baseball architecture together.

Minor League Stadium Grade: 4.5/5

Overall Stadium Grade: 4/5

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