(Not) On the Road: A Quiet Evening of Leisure in Staten Island

As I mentioned in my recent post(s) on the Trenton Thunder experience, I’m going to make an effort for the remainder of the season to visit Minor League teams that are easily accessible from my New York City base of operations. And few teams, if any, are more accessible than the Staten Island Yankees. They’re just a ferry ride away!

So, this past Wednesday, I left the office a bit earlier than usual and made my way to Richmond County Bank Ballpark. From MLB Advanced Media’s Chelsea-based offices, this involves a ride on the 1 train from 14th street to the ferry terminal.

Len’s Papaya is a new addition to the terminal’s food and beverage choices. Amongst NYC’s wide array of papaya-referencing frankfurter purveyors, Len’s is pretty much a non-entity. But, still, I picked up a papaya drink for the ferry ride. I figured this could be a new tradition for me, as in the past I’d always bought a Budweiser at the ferry snack bar (beer is now off limits to me, due to the celiac disease).

Within 10 minutes I was on the Staten Island ferry, which doesn’t cost a thing! One of the reasons that I have always enjoyed SI Yanks games is because it provides an excuse to ride the ferry — a 1/2 hour excursion filled with wonderful aquatic vantage points. Even the though the weather was less than ideal (cloudy, with scattered rain showers earlier in the evening), I still enjoyed the scenery.

I always do.

Lady Liberty!

I wasn’t expecting a big crowd, due to the mediocre weather, but I was still caught off-guard as the ferry approached Staten Island. It was 7:30 and the game was underway after a 15-minute delay, but very few people were in the stands.

It was going to be a quiet night indeed! The ballpark is, more or less, next door to Staten Island’s St. George ferry terminal. While there are certainly a portion of fans who have driven (or walked) to the stadium, those who have taken the ferry come across this entrance first.

This outfield entrance is THE first impression ferry-riders have of the facility, and not once over six years of attending games here have I ever seen that ticket window open. I find this indicative of a larger issue: for whatever reason, the SI Yanks don’t do much marketing to the city at large (one of the biggest and most diverse media markets in the entire world!).

And call me naive, but I don’t think that this is a tough sell: a Yankees affiliate, easily accessible via an outright fun public transit journey, competing in a beautiful facility that offers a skyline view of the greatest city in the world! 2012 marks the first year in which the team is under the ownership of Nostalgic Partners LLC and in a press conference announcing this Nick Tiller, one of the group’s partners, said “We think a lot of people don’t know the team exists, and we hope to change that.” I sincerely hope that they do! To a large extent my job is to be an advocate for Minor League Baseball, and I would love to be able to champion the SI Yanks as they make strides toward realizing their immense potential.

Multiple requests, via the team, to speak to the new owners went unanswered. That will be a story to pursue for another day, but for now, what I have is merely this slice of SI Yanks life on a damp but otherwise pleasant Wednesday evening in early August. This is simply me, as a fan, trying to convey the experience. Take it for what it is…

The main entrance, like most main entrances, is located in front of home plate. It’s a bit of a hike.

For those looking for will call, the hike continues.

Finally, access was obtained. Poor weather and underwhelming crowd aside, this remains a beautiful place to see a game.

The visibility of the Manhattan skyline was compromised somewhat by the clouds, but nonetheless a case could be made that this is one of the most scenic ballpark environments in Minor League Baseball.

The team’s mascot is the Phil Rizzuto referencing “Scooter the Holy Cow.” He originally had a halo perched above that big old hat of his, but at some point through the years it fell off.

The SI Yanks have expanded their concession options this season, including a nacho stand and, yes, even a sushi bar. But on this low-attended evening these options weren’t available. The third base concessions stand was operating at full-steam, but beyond that the stadium was more or less in shutdown mode.

I soon went into shutdown mode as well, sitting behind the first base dugout with NYC-based Minor League travelers Rex and Coco Doane (last seen in Winston-Salem). And while I have been frustrated regarding the SI Yanks’ marketing and media relations techniques (or lack thereof) through the years, one area in which they have always excelled is in-game entertainment. The between-innings games and contests are well-organized and staged with professionalism, and helped redeem an otherwise sluggish evening (the time of game was an agonizing 3:45, plus it started 15 minutes late).

When the game script calls for you to dance on the dugout, then you dance on the dugout — even if it’s 11 o’clock on a misty Wednesday night.

The Auburn Doubledays were victorious, doubling up the hometown team by a score of 10-5.

And from there, there was nothing to do but catch the 11:30 ferry back into Manhattan — another appropriately late night in the city that never sleeps.

benjamin.hill@mlb.com

twitter.com/bensbiz

8 Comments

Wow, they don’t make short season parks up there like they do in the south. That place is huge! I regret loafing during my one opportunity to see a game there.

Fabulous place. Usually empty. The outfield ticket windows were open in their first two years of operation. Never understood the decision to close them. This place is so great that I attend regularly even though I’m a Mets fan who dislikes the Yankees intensely.

I am a Williamsport Crosscutters fan. I visited SI stadium about a month ago. It was a great night (except the Crosscutters lost). Maybe you can check out our stadium?? It’s very historic.The 2nd oldest ball park…let me know what you think!

I’m a NYC minor league follower also and it’s a shame the Baby Bombers don’t draw better. Is it lack of promotions, ticket prices or parking? I’d like to blame the season they are having but it’s a ghost town during championship years.
Lately I’ve been taking the trip out Rt 78 and going to Lehigh Valley or taking the drive south on the Turnpike to see the Blue Rocks.

Great pics, Ben. This looks like one of MiLB’s hidden little secrets. What a phenomenon little ballpark with great scenery.
–Mike

http://burrilltalksbaseball.mlblogs.com

What an excellent blog. As someone who has followed the “Baby Bombers” since they came into existence back in ’99 I think I can answer the questions put forth by Noel Roche.

1) The S.I. Yankees are all but ignored by their parent club. NEVER any mention of the team during TV or radiocasts and no promotion at Yankee Stadium. Look how well the Mets promote the Cyclones. I only wish the Yankees would do half as much for the S.I. Yanks!

2) Ticket prices are outrageous. They have the highest prices in the NY-Penn League and the concession prices are no better.

3) You can always plan and work around the high prices of tickets and eats, but what gets under my skin more than anything else is the nickel and diming that occurs:
–A seat on the infield costs $18 plus $3 “convenience charge” per ticket.
–There are other charges applied to tickets when you buy online.
–They charge you a fee to print your own tickets on your own printer.
–They charge more for tickets vs Brooklyn. (Single A Dynamic Pricing? Really?)
–They raise the cost of parking to $8 on game nights.

4) The team is also all but ignored by the local newspaper too. For whatever reason the local rag had a vendetta against the Getzler family (original owners) and they never really promoted the club. After the Getzlers sold the team to Mandalay the S.I. received a lot of attention by the S.I. Advance, but that since faded away as well.

When you go to Yankee Stadium, Citi Field, Giants Stadium or Madison Square Garden I guess you have to put up with your pockets always getting picked. But to be treated this way by a team that is Single A Rookie Short Season? No way no how my friends!

These are a few of the problems that a lot of people are always chirping about. I won’t argue that the new ownership has a right to their profits, but they can’t lose sight of the fact that the S.I. Yankees are not MLB, but the lowest of the low.

Pingback: (Not) On the Road: Beach Bums and No Buns in Brooklyn « Ben's Biz Blog

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