- Dave Cottenie
Innovative Field – Rochester Red Wings
Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29
Innovative Field One Morrie Silver Way Rochester, NY 14608
Year Opened: 1996
The Rochester Miracle Wings
Rochester, New York is the quintessential minor league city. There are few places around the country that offer a full-complement of minor league sports like Rochester does, with little competition from the big leagues or big-time colleges. At the center of Rochester’s sports identity is the Rochester Red Wings of Minor League Baseball’s International League. The Red Wings are currently the Triple-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals and have been around since 1899. The Red Wings were saved in 1957 after their affiliation with the St. Louis Cardinals ended and it looked like baseball in Rochester was for naught. Morrie Silver led the 72 Day Miracle, which sold over 8,000 shares to over 200 shareholders to purchase the team and stadium and keep Rochester baseball strong. Members of the Silver family still work for the Red Wings and the street outside Frontier Field is named Morrie Silver Way.
Since 1989 the home for the Red Wings has been Frontier Field. Replacing venerable Silver Stadium, Frontier Field has also been home to soccer and lacrosse. The Red Wings experience offers plenty to the baseball fan and is a must-do for baseball fans.
Note: Frontier Field’s name is changing to Innovative Field during the 2022 off-season.
Food & Beverage 5
Frontier Field offers some of the best concessions in baseball. There are numerous concession stands and each one has a unique menu. All of the ballpark favourites are present, of course, and there are some local favourites as well. Altobelli’s Deli offers some sub and wrap deli options; Red Osier has the Western New York staple Beef on Weck, and variations of the sandwich; Ice Cream Plus has a host of different ice cream options; Sup Dog offers Zweigle’s hot dogs and sausages. Burgers, pizza and nachos are also available at different stands. For something truly unique to Rochester, fans should head to Home Plate for a Trash Can, the Frontier Field take on the Garbage Plate. The 10th Inning bar area has a whole host of local craft beers and local Genesee beer can be found throughout the park also. Labatt Blue, which is popular in Western New York, is also prevalent in the park. It is hard to fathom that there is anything that a fan would want to eat at the ballpark that can’t be found at Frontier Field.
Frontier Field will not awe fans with striking beauty or a bevy of unique features. That being said, Frontier Field is a solid ballpark that has everything that fans would want in a Minor League Baseball experience. The exterior of the stadium is not imposing. A simple design that features a sunken field and to go with the red brick is more functional than beautiful. Frontier Field incorporates what was once an old firehouse on the left field side of the stadium for offices. Fans who enter the front gate, behind home plate, will be welcomed first by Rochester baseball legend, Morrie Silver and a couple kids, in bronze statue form. There are also some original seats from old Silver Stadium that can be used as a meeting place for friends and family. Upon entering the stadium, fans will find more items to catch their attention. A statue of a horse made of baseball gloves, a large red wing bird and a classic bullpen cart all sit right outside of the team store, which is on the left of the main gate. The main concourse has banners for honoured members of the Red Wings including Johnny Oates, Cal Ripken Jr., Luke Easter, Morrie Silver and Mr. Rochester Baseball, Joe Altobelli. The Red Wings Hall of Fame can be found on the right field side and is worth some exploring for members of memories past. Also, a high school baseball hall of fame can be found. Upon exiting, on the left field side, fans can pass the bronze statue of Joe Altobelli.
The seating bowl for Frontier Field is a separated, two tier seating area with some of the left and right field side seating covered with some sun protection. Alternative seating including berms, pavilion and picnic areas are also available. The sightlines at Frontier Field are excellent; there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Frontier Field has videoboard beyond both left Center and right Center field. They are probably coming to the end of their lives, but do the job. Often, videoboards try to cram so much information on at a time that the result is text that is too small to easily see. The Red Wings are not guilty of this and feature pitching statistics on one board and hitting statistics on the other. The outfield wall in left Center displays the retired numbers of Jackie Robinson, Luke Easter, Joe Altobelli and Morrie Silver. The number 8,222 represents the original number of shares in Rochester baseball that were sold to keep a Minor League team in the city. The ten Governors’ Cup Championships are on display on the wall in right center.
The gameday atmosphere is not over-the-top in Rochester as it is in other Minor League venues. The staple promos are there including the mascot race (featuring Joe Altobelli, Luke Easter and Cal Ripken Jr.), 50/50 draw and other promos. Organ music is still a staple at Red Wings games and organist Fred Costello has been at it for a long time.
Frontier Field is located near Downtown Rochester, just outside of the Inner Loop in the Brown Square neighbourhood. There are a few options that are close to Frontier Field, but the best bet is to hop in the car and take a two or three minute drive to the preferred destination. Some options fans may consider include the Genesee Brew House, 809 Sports Bar and Rocky’s. Over by the Blue Cross Arena, fans will find the old train station that is currently home to the Stadium Journey favourite Dinosaur BBQ. Also, it may be of interest to hit up the founder of the Garbage Plate, Nick Tahou Hots.
Other sporting options in Rochester would include the Rochester Americans of the AHL and Rochester Knighthawks of the NLL. Fans could also head to Henrietta to take in some RIT Tigers hockey at the Gene Polisseni Center. The other main attraction that fans must absolutely consider taking in is The Strong National Museum of Play which is fantastic!
For fans wishing to stay near the ballpark, the Holiday Inn and Hyatt are among options that are not too far away.
The Rochester Red Wings maintain a strong attendance and have the longevity to be envious of. The Red Wings consistently average in the top 20 in all of Minor League Baseball. They usually attract over 6,000 fans per game. Normally the fans are fairly laid back and reserved, but know when to make some noise as the intelligent baseball fans that they are.
Frontier Field is located in Brown Square in Rochester, at the junction of the Inner Loop highway and I-490. Getting to the ballpark is pretty easy. If you are interested in public transit to the ballpark, the Rochester-Genesee Transit Authority has buses that travel on Broad, Main, Plymouth and State Streets. Check out the RTS website for maps, schedules and fares. There is plenty of parking available for Red Wing games in the lots of the Kodak Tower. Parking goes for only a few dollars and the local police do a great job of making it easy to get in and out of the parking lots. The main ticketing gates are behind homeplate, in the main square by Morrie Silver Way. At times lineups can be a bit of an issue for the late purchasing crowd, so being prepared is always a good idea. Another gate for entry is near the old fire station at Morrie Silver Way and Plymouth Ave, in left field. Getting around the stadium is no problem at all. There is a spacious inner concourse, where all of the concessions can be found and an outer concourse to travel by as well. There are also plenty of washroom facilities.
Return on Investment 5
With ticket prices at $13 to $17, discounted for presale, the Rochester Red Wings offer an extremely affordable product that is what every baseball fan is looking for. Parking will go for $6 ot $10 and concession prices are not over the top. The environment and laid back feeling at Red Wings games is excellent. Overall, the return on investment for a Red Wings game is fantastic!
An extra mark for organist Fred Costello, who in 2022 set a record for his 46th season as organist of the Red Wings, the longest-reigning sports organist in history.
An extra mark for Morrie Silver and the 72 Day Miracle that saved baseball in Rochester and made the Red Wings a truly community team.
An extra mark for the view of the iconic Kodak building beyond left field. Although Kodak is no longer, the building is currently used by Monroe Community College.
The Rochester Red Wings are a cornerstone franchise in the International League. They have weathered the ups and downs of Minor League Baseball and come out the other end still strong. Fans looking for a solid baseball experience that will offer tremendous value should absolutely check out the Rochester Red Wings at Frontier Field. Morrie will be glad you came!
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