CaroMont Health Park - Gastonia Honey Hunters
Photos by Marc Viquez and Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
CaroMont Health Park South Hill Street and West Franklin Boulevard Gastonia, NC 28016
Gastonia Honey Hunters website
Year Opened: 2021
Honey Hunters Look to the Future with Its Ballpark
If you want to get a glimpse of what the future of ballpark construction looks like, then look no further than Gastonia, North Carolina. The new home of the Gastonia Honey Hunters of the Atlantic League has a few unique features to offer the world of professional baseball.
CaroMont Health Park offers seating for 5,000 people and features seating of five rows deep from the foul line to foul line, along with party decks, cabana seats, stool seating around the outfield perimeter, and a covered beer deck. The field is synthetic and designed for much more than baseball games.
The stadium is the centerpiece of the Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment (FUSE) District, designed to promote economic development between downtown Gastonia and Loray Village. The multi-purpose facility will house other sports, concerts, and other forms of entertainment.
Food & Beverage 4
The ballpark offers the standard grub of hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, and burgers, but there are also a few more treats worth mentioning. At the main concession stand behind home plate, options include the Philly cheesesteak, chicken and waffle, and Korean pork belly sliders. The choices are different, but worth trying if adventurous. Fans can also order whole or quarter pizzas if they want something a little more familiar.
The Carolina BBQ kiosk has a pleasant aroma to attract customers near the third baseline. Pulled pork, and brisket sliders, pulled pork nachos, white cheddar mac and cheese, and triple-baked beans with burnt ends are among the main dishes and sides. There is also a kiosk that hand dips pickles into the batter for fresh, never frozen, fried pickles.
The beer options include macro and microbrewery options. The local options include Sycamore, Appalachian Mountain, Olde Mecklenburg, Sugar Creek, and Catawba Brewing Companies. Domestic and premium 16-ounce beers are $6 to $7, while craft beers are a little more in price.
The ballpark does not sell Coke or Pepsi products; instead, fans can quench their thirst with RC Cola, Sun Drop, Cherry Lemon Sundrop Diet Rite, 7Up, or Cheerwine. I would grab one since you are in the Carolinas.
The ballpark is designed to be spacious and features a 360-degree concourse that provides an area of social gathering and baseball watching by fans of all ages. It does not follow the regular blueprint of other minor league venues and offers a few designated areas at various points. However, there appears to be the seating of some kind at every interval.
There are only five rows of grandstand seating that stretch from foul pole to foul pole. The views from behind the backstop might be among the closest in professional baseball. Above this area on the concourse are tabletop seats and chairs that provide more ample room for the customer. There is a level of comfort in mind for visitors at the ballpark that is almost unmatched anywhere else.
The stadium features six covered cabanas on the third-base side, a covered pavilion with rocking chairs down the left-field foul line, and the Gas House Bar & Grill in center field. This area also houses a kids’ play area and batting cages – players before the game and for fans during the game. Adding to the charm is a train track just outside the stadium where it’s possible to see a train pass by in the evening.
A few other touches to add distinction to the venue are the colors black, tan, and yellow. The honeycomb design and pattern are visible on certain parts of the building. There is inspirational signage throughout the stadium by Ransom Hunter. There are two team stores, one at street level next to the box office, with tons of items to choose from at the game. The video scoreboard is 24 feet by 63 feet high.
The neighborhood around the ballpark is developing. Several new restaurants and a brewery are being constructed within walking distance of the stadium. In the meantime, fans can drive about a mile to R.O.’s Bar-B-Que for their chopped pork sandwiches covered with their unique slaw. The slaw is creamy and is used as a dip or sauce by many locals. It’s a small place but has been in business since 1946. Another local barbecue restaurant is Ray’s Country Smokehouse that’s not too far from the ballpark.
Cavendish Brewing is a funky joint that has several tasty beers and old, outdated furniture to lighten up the vibe. Jia Asian Fusion & Sushi Bar is an interesting place for Chinese, Asian, Thai, Cajun, and Mexican fusion. Tavern 24 is an ideal spot for pub food and a drink.
Depending on the time during the summer, there might be an American Legion game taking place at Sims Legion Park. The ballpark is used for local high school and collegiate games. You can also drive 30 miles to check out a Charlotte Knights game at Trust Field.
Gastonia does have a collection of museums worth visiting during your visit. The Schiele Museum of Natural History, the American Military Museum, and the African-American Museum of History and Culture.
The Honey Hunters are fifth in the league in attendance with an average of 2,107 fans as of this writing. That is slightly below the league average and somewhat surprising. The ballpark is brand new, modern, and comfortable. Our visit was at a make-up game during the day, but the local fan base might just be sleeping on what is a very stylish new facility for baseball and much more.
The ballpark has a lot of accessible points of entry for visitors. It is also accessible within a 10-minute walk from over 2,700 parking spots and mass transit. The 360-degree concourse provides vantage points to the game for fans, and signage is clear and visible.
Return on Investment 4
The price of a ticket to a game is a bargain; General Admission tickets cost $7. Box seat pricing ranges from $9 to $13, and home plate seats are $15. The prices are comparable to nearby Truist Point Ballpark in High Point. Concession prices are on par with other clubs in the area, and concession items ranging from $20 for a t-shirt to $35 for a ball cap. Team caps come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.
The ballpark earns a point for having a design that is not quite like any other in professional baseball. There are only five rows of seating that provide fans some of the closest views in baseball. A second point is awarded for the ballpark being a catalyst for the FUSE District that hopes to promote economic development in Gastonia. A third point is for the name that honors Random Hunter, who is believed to be the first freed slave in Gaston County who owned land in the late 19th century.
I enjoyed a lot about this ballpark and what it represents to the community of Gastonia. The concept of redeveloping the neighborhood with a baseball stadium and other industries is not new. Its design is sharp, and the organization’s objective is clearly established throughout the building. Perhaps it is too soon to judge CaroMont Health Park, and hopefully, someone from this website will be back in a few years to judge it on future merits. Perhaps that will be me because I would love to see its future.