Unlike my drive to NY last weekend, this will be a somewhat abbreviated post. Why, you ask? Well, when I left the friendly confines of Fairfax, VA on Saturday, Google Maps said it was a 4:24 drive to the Cyclones. Plenty of time, I thought. I was leaving at noon, so I figured I would arrive about 5PM. But due to I-95 and other traffic delays, including a jam at the stadium, I didn’t even park my car until just after 6PM. And the game was scheduled for a 6PM start! Uh oh…. There were additional delays that I will get into later, but I have to say overall, it was worth the drive! MCU Park is probably THE best venue to watch a baseball game! And when, not if, I return, I hope I can truly enjoy the great atmosphere!!
As I mentioned, the drive north left nothing to be desired. I was met with traffic along I-95 as well as a backup exiting the NJ Turnpike, traffic on the Verrazano Bridge, then on the Belt Parkway to the Shore Parkway.
Traffic on 95 was NOT good!
The good news is while I was stopped on the Verrazano Bridge, I was able to snap a nice pic of the NY sklyine!
Once I got closer to the stadium, however, there was another traffic jam. Probably a combination of general Coney Island traffic and game day traffic. The stadium lot was already sold out, and it took me a few minutes to figure out alternative parking. I was getting out of my car at 6:10, not what I had planned. 😦
Here’s a view of the outside of the stadium:
Giveaways and the park
Being late, I was worried about missing the giveaway. It was Star Wars night, and I thought I would miss the promotional item, a light saber mini bat. Luckily, they had plenty to hand out, so I came away with one of the best giveaway items I’ve gotten in three seasons of doing my blog!
My normal MO is to arrive early, get lots of photos of the park, inside and out, check out the eats, and get something yummy and photogenic. As my work colleagues like to remind me, this is a food blog wrapped around a baseball post. More about the food later. I was running a bit behind, so I ran around and got some pretty good photos of the park. MCU Park has been called “the most fun ballpark in America”, and given it’s sightlines, I would have to agree! Having all the Coney Island rides as a backdrop is incredible!
Here’s a view during the daytime:
In right field, they have a section called The Backyard. It’s primarily reserved for groups. I have to say this would be a fun way to watch a game!
One part of the stadium I feel very sorry I didn’t see was the Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese statue at the entrance. I meant to look for this, but totally missed it in my rush to get inside. Here’s a photo (credit: Brookly Cyclones website):
One section that looked like a fun place to watch a game was the party deck. It’s at press box level just above the suites. Again, when I make it back, I’d love to check it out.
Star Wars night at the park!
I also ran into Miss Finger Lakes, Miss New York, and Miss Most Outstanding Teen at the game. They were there signing autographs and doing a charity event. Left to right, it’s Cassie Paradise, Gabrielle Walter, and Asia Hickman.
The obligatory selfie with Sandy the Seagull. It’s not easy trying to look like a tough guy wearing Harry Potter specs!
The Cyclones also have one of the best team stores I’ve seen. And remember folks, this is a short season A team playing in the NY-Penn league! It’s two stories, and I saw some really cool shirts! In the end, I opted for a cap that has both team logos.
A nice little touch on the seats. Just another unique aspect of this park!
The evening view of the park was spectacular!
Food choices at the park were great! Being close to, or really ON, Coney Island, one would expect some great ballpark food. And one would not be disappointed! Nathan’s Hot Dogs, home in Coney Island, is a mainstay in MRC Stadium, but there are plenty of other food and drink options!
One stop I wish I had made was at the Arancini Bros stand. They are a “street food” stand, offering “spheres of risotto stuffed (or mixed) with various fillings. Beyond the traditional Arancini with Meat Ragu inside a Saffron Risotto, there are dozens of other varieties both savory and sweet, including seafood, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.” I was very tempted to stop here!
Fellow blooggers The Nacho Scouts did a review of some of the food available at the Booklyn Cyclones, including the Arancini balls, and there review can be seen here:
They reviewed Nathan’s original hot dogs, available at the stadium. I opted for an original Nathan’s hot dog post game on the boardwalk, and I have to say it was amazing!!
I opted to get some awesome looking (and tasting!) nachos from Oppo Taco. Theseare street style tacos featuring your choice of chicken, pork, or steak served on tortillas, nachos, burritos, or veggie nachos. It was a tough choice, but I think I made the right call going with the super chicken nachos!
I do have one beef with the concessions (pun intended): the lines. Every single food stop had an incredible line, including mine. Sadly, I think mine probably moved the slowest. It was 45 minutes to get my nachos!
I also ran into some fans that ordered the chicken tenders and pretzels. These looked pretty yummy as well!
In game photos
Sadly, not too many good game photos this time out. Between running late, getting some stadium photos, and waiting in line for food, it was the top of the 7th by the time I made it to my seat. One thing I noticed about the field that might not be evident in the photos is that in addition to having artificial turf for the grass, they also had artificial dirt (with the exception of the pitcher’s mound and home plate)! It looked a little strange seeing players slide and no dirt fly up! Very interesting.
Game winning sac fly walk off in the ninth by catcher Scott Manea, who coincidentally enough is from one of my alma maters, St. Petersburg College in Florida!
Manea was treated to an early shower!
MCU Park is really a fun place to see a game, even if the concessions were a little overwhelmed by the crowd. The backdrop of Coney Island makes it a really fun place to watch a game. More than once I found myself watching all the rides instead of the game. After the game, I did go for a walk on the boardwalk. Something everyone should do at least once! Next time, though, I am taking the train!
After spending the night in NJ, I got up and participated in a local 5k. It was a lot of fun, for a good cause, and I got a decent breakfast out of it!