Centennial Field - Vermont Lake Monsters
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Centennial Field 98 University Road Burlington, VT 05401
Year Opened: 1906
The first baseball game ever played at Centennial Field took place on April 17, 1906. During this game, the University of Vermont defeated the University of Maine 10-4. Named in honor of the 100th anniversary of UVM’s first graduating class, Centennial Field is one of the oldest ballparks still in use today. While the university last sponsored a baseball team in 2009, the field remains in use as the home of the Vermont Lake Monsters, the short-season, single-A, New York Penn League affiliate of the Oakland A’s.
The site where Centennial Field stands was for decades the school’s original sports complex, hosting baseball, football, soccer, track, lacrosse and even hockey games over the years. In fact, the football grandstands can still be seen beyond the left-center field fence, and the locker rooms are still used by the visiting teams.
The original wooden Centennial Field bleachers burned down in 1913. They were replaced in 1922 by the current concrete and steel grandstand still used today. Over the years the ballpark has been host to several minor league and semi-pro teams, including the Burlington Athletics, Vermont Reds, Vermont Mariners and Vermont Expos. During their history, the University of Vermont had 11 players make it all the way to the Major Leagues.
Food & Beverage 4
Concessions at Centennial Field don’t stray too far from your basic ballpark fare, but there are several items worth mentioning. Lake Monster fans seeking out something different should look for the food truck featuring chicken and waffle cones, served with powdered sugar and Vermont maple syrup. Ballpark tacos are offered in the right field party area, and since we’re in Vermont, the maple flavored ice cream is a must. If you want some Cracker Jacks, you won’t feel cheated, as Centennial Field sells large bags of the traditional ballpark treat for just three dollars.
McKenzie’s Country Classics serves up nachos in their recommended serving size, a batting helmet. Other choices here include Irish nachos, mac and cheese, or for those fans looking for something at the opposite end of the nutrition spectrum, assorted salads.
Coca-Cola products are featured at Centennial Field. Burlington is known for its many fine craft breweries, and several are featured here. Fans can choose beverages from Harpoon, Zero Gravity, 14th Star, Citizen Cider, Long Trail, Queen City and Fiddlehead. Alcohol can be purchased at the beer stand on the main concourse, or the new beer deck out in right field.
Be aware that many of the concession stands at Centennial Field take cash only, so come prepared.
The Lake Monsters serve up a fairly typical minor league presentation in this decidedly atypical setting. The new video scoreboard in left-center field is put to good use with game stats, player profiles, videos and more. The team’s mascot, Champ, participates in promotions and roams the stands meeting with fans. There are giveaways and promotions happening between innings.
Champ’s play area, located behind the right-center field fence, is a popular area for younger fans. The Lake Monsters have upgraded the options for adult fans hanging out in the area as well, adding a beer deck and food options in the area. New seating options have put fans closer to the action than ever before, with several field-level sections scattered throughout the ballpark.
Burlington is a fantastic city with a real bohemian vibe, known for its microbreweries and excellent dining options. Located about a mile and a half from Centennial Field, it’s one of the more popular destinations in the northeast. The only thing keeping this neighborhood from a perfect score is that the downtown area is not easily accessible from the ballpark. On the plus side, it’s a short drive there from Centennial Field before or after the game, and there is ample parking for visiting fans wishing to explore the area.
The Church Street Marketplace is the hub of the downtown. Filled with notable pubs, breweries and eateries, it’s the place to be in Burlington. Visiting fans flock to American Flatbread, The Farmhouse and Leunigs for local food and drink. Burlington has a thriving microbrewery scene, with notable breweries including Zero Gravity, Queen City, Switchback and Magic Hat all operating pubs downtown.
In the summer months there are many options for fans looking for outdoor activities in the area. Lake Champlain offers a plethora of beach and boating options, while Greater Burlington’s parks and woodlands attract outdoor enthusiasts. The many ski resorts offer outdoor activities throughout the summer.
Attendance for the Lake Monsters has held firm for the greater part of the decade. The team averages between 2,200-2,500 fans per game, which places them right in the middle of the New York-Penn League annual attendance rankings.
The crowd at a Lake Monster game is typical of most minor league ballparks. With a game day presentation aimed towards families, you’ll be sure to find many kids running around Centennial Field, mixed in with the casual and hardcore baseball fan.
Centennial Field is located on the eastern edge of the University of Vermont campus, just off of Interstate 89. Signs in the area guide visiting fans to the ballpark easily. This is where the ease of access ends.
There is a small parking lot adjacent to the ballpark. This lot fills quickly, so if you want to park right next to Centennial Field, get there early. Very early. When this lot fills, fans can park either in the garage near Gutterson Fieldhouse on the University of Vermont campus (there are shuttles to and from the ballpark), or at the Trinity campus parking lot (it’s a short half mile walk to Centennial Field).
A batch of renovations that took place in 2013 turned Centennial Field from a ballpark that looked, well, 100 years old to a comfortable place to watch a game. Gone are the old concrete grandstand seating areas and uncomfortable wooden chairs in the reserved sections, replaced with modern plastic stadium seats. Much of the old grandstand remains, with its large roof providing shade on summer afternoons and shelter from the chilly Vermont evenings.
The seating bowl stretches from shallow left field around to shallow right field. While the old grandstand does feature some obstructed views, there aren’t too many bad seats in the house. The Diamond Deck features seats on field level right behind home plate, and the Dugout Deck seating area has field level seats beyond the dugouts on either side of the field. Further down both foul lines are BBQ/party decks that are popular places for fans to hang out and catch the action.
Concessions are located underneath the grandstand, which winds around the ballpark in between the many buildings on site. Nestled amongst the many concession stands and food trucks is a newly expanded team store. Getting around Centennial Field is easier than you would expect for such an old facility. Restrooms are clean and large enough to handle a typical Lake Monsters crowd.
Return on Investment 5
Attending a Lake Monsters game is a most affordable entertainment option. Tickets cost nine dollars for reserved seating (in the main grandstand under the roof) and eight dollars for grandstand seating (sections down either baseline). Senior citizens receive a two dollar discount and children under 12 get a three dollar discount. Seats in the two premium seating areas are sold for $16 dollars.
Parking in the small lot next to Centennial Field costs four dollars. This lot is very small, so get here early if you want to park here. Very early. Parking in the satellite lots is free of charge.
Concessions are very reasonably priced, making a Lake Monsters game a most affordable entertainment option for Vermont baseball fans.
There is a historic marker near the entrance of the ballpark. The marker makes mention of some of the famous names to play here, including Tris Speaker, Robin Roberts and Ken Griffey Jr.
An extra point is awarded to the renovations which increased fan comfort and amenities while keeping the historic flavor of the venue.
A final extra point is awarded for the old grandstand at Centennial Field. Facilities like this are quickly disappearing from the minor league landscape. It’s great to have a throwback to visit every once in a while.
Centennial Field, while an older facility, offers many modern amenities and enough comforts to keep today’s fan happy. With a decidedly small-town feel, this ballpark belongs on any baseball fan’s must-see list.
Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.