Bridgewater, NJ – It has been a summer of celebration at TD Bank Ballpark, as it marks its 25th anniversary as the home of the Somerset Patriots. Drawing more than 8 million fans over the past quarter century, the ballpark has become an iconic baseball oasis in the center of the Garden State.
Designed by SSP Architects in partnership with Clarke, Caton, Hintz of Trenton, NJ and built by Epic Construction, this 6,100-seat ballpark incorporates all the elements that give it that “old ballpark” feel: wine-colored brick and green exposed steel façade, metal roof, wrought iron, a wide concourse, and easy access by mass transit or by car via 1-287 and US Route 22. Its colorful assemblage of outfield signage also helps give it a classic feel.
For all these reasons and more, it has earned a two-time recognition by Ballpark Digest as the nation’s best independent league ballpark and has won the New Jersey Golden Trowel Grand Design Award.
NOT A BAD SEAT IN THE HOUSE TO WATCH THE BASEBALL GAME
“This ballpark was designed to make sure there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Even the concourse-level press box is located at a slightly lower level down the first base line so that fans have an unobstructed view of the field immediately upon entering the ballpark,” said Marcus Rosenau, principal of SSP Architects.
Reflecting on how the ballpark fulfilled his vision from the day that it opened to today, the late Steve Kalafer, franchise owner and chairman, once said, “Most minor league ballparks built at that time were done on the cheap. Everyone found a way to cut corners. We said we were going to put our money up to the county and we’re going to finish it the right way. The team spent millions of dollars additionally to make sure that the ballpark was something that would be iconic, and it has.”
The $17.5 million facility, which annually draws over 370,000 people for baseball and other community entertainment, fundraising and sporting events, was self-financed by Somerset County. All costs are repaid by revenues received through the lease of the stadium to the Patriots, which is a New York Yankees Double-A Baseball affiliate.
SPARKING THE REVITALIZATION OF BRIDGEWATER’S EAST MAIN STREET SECTION
Sited on a 21-acre brownfield, the ballpark spurred a significant commercial revitalization of the East Main Street section of Bridgewater. Part of its site was formerly home to manufacturers American Cyanamid and Calco. When it opened on June 7, 1999, there wasn’t much business activity in the area. Its opening helped bring in numerous businesses and restaurants – most particularly in the Bridgewater Promenade and Chimney Rock shopping malls.
“Our contribution to what has become a regional destination for both baseball fans and families give a wonderful sense of pride in our SSP staff. It’s a great feeling to know our firm helped build a much beloved ballpark that has been called a “jewel of the Atlantic League,” said Rosenau.
He said the ballpark was designed to offer something for every type of fan. Young families can enjoy the ballpark’s BBQ picnic area and the Children’s Fun Zone near lawn seating. Kids enjoy being greeted at the front gate by the Sparkee mascot named after manager emeritus Sparky Lyle. Corporate clients enjoy hospitality suites, and the Diamond Club for company meetings and special catering services.
And the entire community benefits from the ballpark’s energy efficiency. It features 3,465 solar panels that produce 1,140,000 kilowatts annually – supplementing 88% of the consumption used in the ballpark.
CREATING GREAT MEMORIES FOR BASEBALL FANS
At the 25th anniversary celebration ceremony earlier this summer, Patriot’s President and General Manager Patrick McVerry, said, “Our home has welcomed generations of families spending quality time together, business entertaining their clients and employees, and the community as a whole gathering for a fun event at a game. There are so many great memories, but even more to look forward to this season and beyond.”
Rosenau said, “Creating memorable spaces that bring people together and give a greater sense of community is what SSP Architects is all about. Our firm was honored to design this special ballpark, and we look forward to partnering with sporting and cultural organizations in the future to help their visions come true.”