You won’t find a bad seat anywhere in the ballpark when Fisher Cats open tonight at home
By ROGER BROWN New Hampshire Union Leader
Enjoying the "Best Seats in the House" last season are Nathan James, 11,Jacob Bishop, 12, Solon James, 13, and Thomas Steere, 14, all from Exeter, as the NH Fisher Cats played Reading at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader Photo)
Although the product on the field is the main attraction for spectators when they attend a New Hampshire Fisher Cats home game, Northeast Delta Dental Stadium adds to the experience of watching Double-A baseball in Manchester. That’s what many fans will tell you.
“Anywhere in the stadium is a good seat,” said Hooksett resident Mike Dubisz, a season-ticket holder who has three seats next to the Fisher Cats dugout in Section 114. “I’ve been to a lot of the Eastern League parks and even some in Triple-A. In Buffalo, you’re way up there. It’s sort of like Gill Stadium, but much higher.
“I like being down on the field. Here, even if you’re on the concourse you can see the game. It’s a great family activity. We have a good time.”
In addition to room for 6,500 in the main seating area, Northeast Delta Dental Stadium has two 100-spectator party decks. There’s also a 300-person picnic area in left field below the Samuel Adams Bar and Grill.
Manchester resident Kevin Beddia, another longtime season-ticket holder, will be at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium tonight when the Fisher Cats play their home opener against the Binghamton Mets. Beddia said Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, like many minor-league parks, is a fun place for children to watch a game.
“It’s good value, and there really isn’t a bad seat in the ballpark,” Beddia said. “Minor-league baseball is all about the kids. It’s affordable for a family to come and have a good time.”
As a bonus, a fireworks show will follow 29 games at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium this season. The fireworks display has been a popular postgame activity at the ballpark in past years as well.
“Ask anyone what they like about coming here and most people will tell you the fireworks,” Beddia said. “The fireworks are outstanding.”
Cindy and Craig Lavigne are Manchester residents who have owned four season tickets since 2004, when the Fisher Cats made their New Hampshire debut at Gill Stadium while their current home was under construction.
Cindy Lavigne said the park is always clean and there’s a good variety of food available. She said she likes the clam chowder, particularly on cold nights early in the season.
The Lavignes and their two daughters have been to most Eastern League parks, and Craig said Northeast Delta Dental Stadium ranks near the top when it comes to a ballpark experience.
“Altoona is my favorite because of the roller coaster in right field, and also they have a bunch of Dippin’ Dots flavors,” he said. “They don’t have Dippin’ Dots here, but there are a lot of different things to eat. We call it the ‘Shiver by the River’ when it’s cold out.”
Fisher Cats shortstop Kevin Nolan said Northeast Delta Dental Stadium has a lot of character, and teammate Deck McGuire, a starting pitcher who is in his third season with the team, called it a unique ballpark with a great atmosphere.
The Fisher Cats averaged 5,125 fans per home game last season, which ranked fourth in the 12-team Eastern League.
“You have the bar and grill in left and the hotel in left-center,” McGuire said. “It’s something you don’t see very often.
“It’s not your traditional symmetrical outfield,” he added, referring to the dimensions of 326 feet to left field, 400 to center and 306 to right, “and it’s always pretty packed. Good crowds are something you look for in the minor leagues, especially with a lot of guys coming from the Florida State League, where it’s (only) girlfriends and parents at every game. Any time you have some fans in the stands, it adds to the atmosphere.”