Waconah Park - Pittsfield Suns
Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Wahconah Park 105 Wahconah Rd Pittsfield, MA 01201
Year Opened: 1919 Capacity: 3,500
Just A Little Bit of Heaven
“Just a Little Bit of Heaven-Pittsfield’s Wahconah Park is Baseball as it Oughta Be” - Sports Illustrated, July 23, 1990.
One of the last ballparks in the country to still feature a wooden grandstand, Wahconah Park dates all the way back to 1919. Through the ballpark’s history, 201 future major leaguers passed through the Berkshires. An additional 100 players with prior major league experience played for various Pittsfield squads. Over nearly a century of use, 14 different professional teams called Wahconah home, as well as 3 different summer collegiate teams. The current tenants are the Pittsfield Suns of the Futures League. The Suns take their name from one of Wahconah Park’s unique features. Because it was built before the advent of night baseball, little thought was put into the ballpark’s orientation. Thus, it was built facing due west, which results in occasional “sun delays” as batters would otherwise be forced to look directly into the setting sun.
Food & Beverage 5
It would be hard to imagine a small ballpark the size of Wahconah Park having a more expansive and diverse menu than can be found here. There are three main concession stands here, two located under the stands, and a third located in the right field party tent area. The stands are given sun-related names such as “Sunrise Café”, “Sunset Grill”, and “the Brighter Side Grill”. Each concession stand has some unique items, increasing the overall menu at the park. All the stands cover the basics, such as hot dogs ($2.50), hamburgers ($4.00), sausage and pepper sandwiches ($5.00), and grilled chicken sandwiches ($5.00). The Sunrise Café also has chicken strips ($5.50) and Mini Corn Dogs ($4.00). The Sunset Grill features Philly Cheesesteaks ($7.00) and funnel cakes ($2.50). The Brighter Side Grill features several different items, such as bratwurst ($5.50), quesadillas ($7.00), pulled pork sandwiches ($5.00), and the most popular item among 10 year old boys, the giant turkey leg ($9.00).
All the stands offer a variety of snacks, candy, popcorn, chips, and beverages. If all this wasn’t enough, there is an ice cream stand on the main concourse selling Dippin’ Dots, hard ice cream, and a variety of novelties as well. Another portable cart on the concourse area serves hot dogs with all the fixings. In addition, Papa John’s pizzas are sold at the beer stand. Wahconah Park offers a variety of food choices that many larger ballparks can’t touch. If your tastes run more towards the adult beverage, the Suns have you covered there, too. There is a beer stand on the concourse selling 16 ounce Coors and Miller Lite for $4.00. Blue Moon, Samuel Adams, and Yuengling drafts are sold here for $6.00. Cans of Blue Moon and Guinness are available at the right field barbeque stand, along with a sampling of other adult beverages. The highlight of the offerings here may be the beer shakes ($6.00), available in creamsicle, chocolate, and strawberry flavors. Also located on the concourse is a small stand selling a variety of Suns’ souvenirs.
The Suns game day staff put on an excellent show at Wahconah Park. There is a buzz in the stands during Suns games, and crowds can swell to capacity on special nights. The team offers giveaways and ticket specials on most nights, and there are giveaways and contests between innings. The Futures League tries to create an atmosphere similar to a minor league ballpark, and in Pittsfield, they succeed. Of course, the promotions budget is limited at this level of baseball. If you get a chance, check out the children’s play area in right field. The bouncey houses located in the area have a large logo of the neighboring Hudson Valley Renegades. It’s not perfect in Pittsfield, but it has its charms, for sure.
The Berkshire Mountains are a popular tourist destination during the summer months, with their popularity based largely on the arts, music, and outdoor recreation. Several hiking trails and nature reserves are located in the area, and attract large amounts of tourists. Fans looking for pursuits separate from baseball will be happy to find several high quality museums in the area, most notably the Norman Rockwell Museum, as well as the Tanglewood Music Center. Within walking distance of Wahconah Park is downtown Pittsfield, featuring several shops, pubs, and restaurants. It’s not the largest or most vibrant downtown, but it’s a got a great small-town feel to it, and is a nice area to explore on a warm summer day.
The Suns have averaged in the neighborhood of 1,300 fans per game since joining the Futures League. This figure ranks them consistently in the top three of the league. The Suns offer group deals to the community, and it is not unusual to see birthday parties, groups, and families enjoying the action side by side. One unique aspect of Wahconah Park is that, despite the fact that it is a stadium, there is still room for kids to roam. You can find groups of kids running around playing catch or tag behind the left field bleachers, bouncing balls against the back of the concourse, or getting out some energy in the play area in right field. It’s a sight common to many summer ballparks, but not so in most minor league ballparks.
Wahconah Park is located in downtown Pittsfield, just a block away from Route 7. Pittsfield is the largest city in Berkshire County, and the third largest city in western Massachusetts. Located in western Massachusetts at the intersection of routes 9, 20, and 7, Pittsfield is easy to get to, although not served by any highways. Interstate 90 (The Mass. Pike) runs about 20 miles to the south. Fans traveling to Wahconah Park will most likely take I-90 to exit 2 (Pittsfield/Lee) and follow Route 20/7 north to downtown. Wahconah Park is located on Wahconah Street, just past the town green. Fans will enter Wahconah Park into a large paved area behind the grandstand featuring a couple of small buildings which house the souvenir stand and the beer stand. The two main concession stands are located directly ahead underneath the seating bowl. Fans may enter the seating bowl through the main breezeway directly ahead, or if looking for alternate seating, by walking in their preferred direction. There is a large set of metal bleachers in shallow left field, and a picnic area in right field. Also located in right field is another BBQ stand, a party tent, and some bouncey houses beyond the right field fence. All areas of Wahconah Park feature excellent views of the field. Most of the seating is located in the main covered grandstand. The first four rows in the grandstand consist of individual plastic seats, and the next eight rows consist of wooden bleachers with backs. The left field bleachers are angled nicely towards the field.
Unfortunately, due to the tiny dimensions of Wahconah Park, all the seats have netting in front of them in order to protect fans.
Return on Investment 3
Reserved seating at Wahconah Park costs $9, and general admission costs $6. Seniors are admitted for $5, and children are admitted free. Active members of the military are also admitted free of charge. Parking is free in the lot adjacent to the ballpark. The prices at Wahconah Park are a little higher than other college ballparks in the region, but are directly in line with the other ballparks in the futures league.
Promotions, specials, and giveaways dot the Suns’ schedule. The presence of many unique menu items, in particular the beer shakes, earn Wahconah another extra point. The sense of history present here is worth a third bonus point.
There is a reason teams keep coming back to Wahconah Park. It’s a great, old-time facility with just enough modern amenities to keep fans happy. The ballpark may have outlived its usefulness as a professional ballpark, but it has found a home in the Futures League. The Futures League has moved into several former professional ballparks throughout New England, and Wahconah Park fits into this business model seamlessly.
Follow Paul Baker’s stadium journeys on Twitter and Instagram @PuckmanRI.