Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium – Aberdeen IronBirds
Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29
Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium 873 Long Drive Aberdeen, MD 21001
Year Opened: 2002 Capacity: 6,300
Taking a Rip
The Aberdeen IronBirds moved to the Baltimore area in 2002 after local legend Cal Ripken, Jr. bought the Utica Blue Sox of the New York-Penn League and moved them to his hometown in New York-Penn League. This did displace the independent Atlantic League’s Aberdeen Arsenal, who were trying to get state and local funding to build a ballpark so they could move out of their temporary home at Harford Community College in nearby Bel Air, Maryland.
That funding instead went to building a home for the Ripken organization, and that was what got Ripken Stadium built. The Arsenal was disbanded after one season with a record of 56-83. Today, the IronBirds are part of the High-A South Atlantic League. The team has had no problem filling the seats and acting as a proper entrance to young players within the Baltimore Orioles organization.
Food & Beverage 2
Unfortunately, we have to be pretty critical of the stadium and its operations here. The lines at all the concession stands are far too long and slow. We talked to quite a few fans that spent almost 3 innings of time to get their food. We were hungry but gave up and ate after the game. It seems like a staffing issue.
The actual offerings are good, although not exciting, but you should plan on eating before a game until they fix this problem. The food prices are very similar to many minor league baseball stadiums. There is a club-level bar called the High-A Bar.
Upon entering the stadium, the seating bowl slopes down towards the field. It is broken up into two main sections separated by a very large walkway area. Beyond the fences, it is not obvious that a major highway is right there, as trees make it a pleasant view.
The Birds Nest is an all-you-can-eat dining group option that sits between the press box and the 100-level home plate seats. This does take some of the better seating options away from the regular fan. Other group decks are available at the end of the concourses.
The game presentation is pretty good here, with the usual between-inning activities. These are supplemented by longtime mascot Ferrous (think about it….Iron….) and his friend, Ripcord.
Ripken Stadium is located across I-95 from the rest of Aberdeen. Right near the stadium are the Ripken Experience Baseball youth fields, two hotels, and some newer housing buildings in the area.
One should wander around the youth baseball complex to see the replica baseball fields designed after Fenway, Yankee, Wrigley, and Baltimore’s own Memorial Stadium. The centerpiece is Cal Sr.’s Yard. It is a near-scale replica of Oriole Park at Camden Yards and even has a replica warehouse building that houses two hotels (Residence Inn Aberdeen and Courtyard Aberdeen).
Outside the exact stadium area is some new development that includes a Royal Farms gas station, All American Steakhouse, an axe throwing location, and a nearly open mini golf and Tropical Smoothie Cafe.
A short drive away back over I-95 is an abundance of restaurants and hotels. Aberdeen, home to the Army’s massive Aberdeen Proving Grounds, is a center of business activity. Olive Tree is a better version of a well-known Italian chain, while Mamie’s Cafe is an old-school Baltimore-style restaurant that offers free desserts with all meals. The Greene Turtle, Panera Bread, and Super Chicken Rico are some other choices with which you can’t go wrong.
Chap's Pit Beef is also located nearby and is. a good spot if you want to properly fill your belly before the game.
The IronBirds sell out many of their games, but a bit less now that they are in a league that plays a longer season. Many of the ticket sales are from group sales, which means the fan base can be somewhat inconsistent. The group giveaways mean you will most likely see many fans wearing gear and other items at each game.
There are some hardcore fans with seats around the home plate area. They will be loud and into all aspects of the game. You will also see Aberdeen apparel from various years of the team, as the look and feel of their uniforms and logo have changed a bit over time.
I-95 runs right next to the stadium, which means that access from there and State Route 22 (a major road across the ever-growing Harford County) is strong. Long Drive (which was named before the stadium was there, surprisingly) is a four-lane road that is the only way into the stadium area. It never gets too busy, as it is directed by staff and local police.
Parking is free and plentiful. No traffic issues are leaving even busy games as the police handle the traffic flow well leaving the stadium.
Return on Investment 3
Ticket prices are higher for the IronBirds than they are at most minor league stadiums, especially for this level. The team must be overcompensating for the lower prices of the many group tickets that are out there. If you know of a group attending, that is your best value.
Plan for tickets, as they may not be available for walk-up sales.
The view of the warehouse replica is a great extra and gives a bit more to the atmosphere of the stadium.
A fan should also stop in and check to see if any youth tournaments are using the Ripken fields. There will be games played there all summer.
Although not located at the stadium, Chap's Pit Beef is an extra all on its own.
Ripken Stadium is a very nicely designed stadium. It was designed while looking at what went right and what went wrong in baseball design in the late 1990s. The result has often been that the stadium has felt a bit impersonal. But it is still a strong baseball facility. The food operations need major help, but with good options in the area, we can forgive them a little.