New Britain Stadium - New Britain Bees
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
New Britain Stadium 230 John Karbonic Way New Britain, CT 06051
Year Opened: 1996 Capacity: 6,146
The city of New Britain was the home of professional baseball in Central Connecticut for almost four decades. In 1983 the city was able to attract the AA Eastern League affiliate of the Boston Red Sox from the nearby city of Bristol. The New Britain Red Sox’ home, Beehive Field, was a simple ballpark consisting almost entirely of bleachers. The ballpark was typical of early 80s construction and was obsolete soon after it was completed. In 1994 the Red Sox made a deal with the city of New Britain to build a new ballpark that was up to AA-standards.
Shortly after making this agreement, the Red Sox moved their affiliation to Trenton, New Jersey.
In moved the Minnesota Twins, who initially called their new team the Hardware City Rock Cats. The Twins called New Britain home for 19 seasons before moving their affiliation to Chattanooga, Tennessee. An affiliate swap brought the Colorado Rockies to New Britain for the 2015 season.
During the 2015 season it was announced that the Rock Cats would be leaving New Britain for a new ballpark, Dunkin’ Donuts Park, in downtown Hartford, 13 miles away.
Into the vacuum stepped the independent Atlantic League. New Britain’s new team, the Bees, were never able to compete with the runaway success of the Yard Goats, struggling to attract fans during their four years of competition. In October of 2019, the team announced they would be moving to the Futures League, a summer wood-bat collegiate league that competes in former minor league ballparks around New England.
Food & Beverage 3
Only a pair of concession stands are open during Bees games, but they are more than adequate to serve a typical crowd. The stands have slightly different menus.
All the usual ballpark fare can be found here, including burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, sausage and pepper sandwiches, Martin Rosol’s hot dogs and kielbasa. Chicken tenders, nachos and French fries are available as well. An assortment of snacks can be purchased at either concession stand. There is a Dippin’ Dots cart open on the concourse for fans looking to satisfy a sweet tooth.
Bottled Pepsi products are featured at New Britain Stadium. Fans looking for an adult beverage will find a selection of beers ranging from Pabst Blue Ribbon and Del’s Shandy to craft brews from Allagash Brewing Company.
New Britain Stadium, with its large capacity and small crowds, was never the home to a lively game day atmosphere. With many precautions in place due to COVID-19 protocols, the game day atmosphere remains very subdued. Fans who enjoy a ball game presented without a lot of distractions will undoubtedly enjoy the laid-back atmosphere.
Precautions put in place for the 2020 season include decreased capacity, the enforcement of social distance guidelines and the elimination of between inning entertainment. With the small crowds typically present at New Britain Stadium, maintaining social distancing throughout the ballpark is not an issue.
New Britain is a city of 73,000 located about ten miles southwest of the state capital of Hartford. It is best known as a manufacturing center and home of Stanley Black and Decker. This gives the city its nickname as the Hardware City. In fact, the Rock Cats called themselves “Hardware City Rock Cats” for two seasons in 1995 and 1996.
New Britain Stadium is located adjacent to New Britain High School and Willow Brook Park. Also located in the sports complex with the ballpark is Veterans Memorial Stadium and Beehive Field. Despite the park’s urban location, there isn’t a whole lot to do in the immediate vicinity of the ballpark.
Most out of town visitors to New Britain will choose to venture on to Hartford or the casinos of eastern Connecticut, just an hour away, rather than stay in the city.
It’s difficult to gauge the crowds at New Britain Stadium with COVID-19 precautions in place. The state of Connecticut has capped capacity at 1,500 fans. The initial game boasted a capacity crowd, but subsequent games have attracted only about 300 fans.
Attendance in New Britain has declined over the years. At their height, the Rock Cats averaged over 6,500 fans per game, with attendance decreasing to just over 4,000 fans per game in the team’s final season. The independent Bees were never able to attract more than 3,300 fans per game, with attendance dwindling every season.
Arriving at New Britain Stadium is a snap, as it is easily accessed by Interstates 84 and 91. Located right off of Route 9 near downtown New Britain, exit 24 will drop motorists off right at the entrance to the ballpark’s parking lot.
The concourse at New Britain Stadium does not offer a view of the playing field. Several sets of stairs access a walkway located about one third of way up the seating bowl. Seats in the 100 level consist of folding plastic stadium seats, while box seats in the 200 level feature molded plastic bucket style seats. The three sections furthest down either baseline consist of metal bleachers with backs.
Netting at New Britain Stadium stretches from one dugout to another, meaning that if you want an unobstructed view, you will need to purchase seats in sections 101-105 or 114-118. Be aware that outside bags are not allowed into New Britain Stadium.
Return on Investment 4
All seats at Bees game are sold as general admission for just seven dollars. There is no surcharge for purchasing tickets online. Parking is free in the large lot adjacent to the ballpark. Concessions are reasonably priced, making a night at a Bees game a most affordable entertainment option for Central Connecticut sports fans.
The name “Bees” alludes to the city’s motto- “industry fills the hive and enjoys the honey.” In addition, a beehive is prominent on the city emblem and flag as a symbol of industriousness.
The New Britain Sports Hall of Fame display is located on the stadium concourse. You will be sure to find some familiar names among the nominees.
New Britain Stadium was once described as “The Camden Yards of the Minor Leagues.” While this statement was surely a case of hyperbole, New Britain Stadium served as a solid, if unspectacular, home for minor league baseball for over two decades. Construction of Dunkin’ Donuts Park in downtown Hartford may have ended professional ball in New Britain, but it’s great to see the facility continue on as home to organized baseball.
The Futures League has given new life to several other New England ballparks that otherwise would have faded into history. The league includes teams in Pittsfield, Lynn, Brockton, Worcester and Nashua that used to house pro teams but have seen them leave for newer, more modern parks.
Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.