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Rockland Boulders And America’s Best New Ballpark

By Mike Silva ~ August 26th, 2011. Filed under: Independent Baseball.

The Rockland Boulders debuted this past June in the Can-Am League, but I have spent very little time covering the team. In a town that has two major baseball franchises, minor league teams in Coney Island and Trenton, and the Long Island Ducks, it’s difficult to generate press even in humble quarters like this site. Although I haven’t made it out to the park this year, I did some research on how the team performed both on the field and at the box office.

On the field they were led by former big league pitcher Dave LaPoint. They finished 19-27 and 16 back in the first half, and have played equally poorly in the second half at 16-19. In other words, no playoffs in the Boulders inaugural season. There aren’t many recognizable names on the roster as most are kids that never made it out of the lower levels of minor league ball.

The real value of independent baseball is providing the fans an affordable and fun night of entertainment. Their home is Provident Bank Ballpark, which they call “America’s Best New Ballpark.”  With three games left this weekend, they are averaging 2,715 per ballgame, good for second in the league behind Quebec. Capacity is 4,500, and there are 16 luxury boxes. There are also 10 entertainment areas throughout the park that includes the BoulderBerg kids zone playground, the Bridge Bar, the Sunset Deck, a fan-accessible batting cage and private areas for group parties.  The most unique part is the “Dugout of Dreams,” which is 150-feet long with 30 seats that allow fans to literally sit on the bench. Tickets range from $7 to $16 dollars, and the ballpark is located off off of Route 45, which is accessible from the Palisades Interstate Parkway.

It hasn’t just been on the field where the Boulders have struggled this season. Joe Favorito of NewJerseyNewsroom.com reports that “the Stadium has faced, and continues to face, strong opposition from local non-elected community leaders who feel that the facility was railroaded into existence through back office politics, and is not in the best interests of all in the community. The area around the stadium is a mix of residential and commercial, and has few ancillary facilities (stores, restaurants etc.).” Joe also reports the team has dropped the ball on concession, as they were out of stock on many items on game day. They also have yet to market their website, or use social media networks effectively. Again, this is a first year franchise that didn’t get into their building till mid-June, so it’s understandable; but lack of infrastructure in sales and marketing is a death knell for any minor league affiliate, especially one in a league with dubious support to begin with.

It’s too early to judge whether baseball in Rockland will be successful long term. Dave LaPoint, who spent a great deal of time coaching in the Atlantic League, sees a lot of similarities between Rockland and the Long Island Ducks. In all fairness, they did draw 2,700 fans, which would be at the bottom of the Atlantic League, but three times better than the Newark Bears, who have been in existence over a decade. I know it’s comparing “apples and oranges” in terms of markets, but it’s not like the venture is a dud.

Marketed correctly, I see no reason why they can’t draw 3,500 people next season in Rockland. The stadium appears beautiful, with a nice backdrop. The neighborhood isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t seem to be a huge deterrent. They have unique in-game entertainment, and reside in a heavily populated and wealthy outskirt of the 5 boroughs. The political backlash is an issue, but why turn down a fun night out with the family? I think many will forget how the stadium was built as time goes on. Rockland is one trip that I will definitely make next season, and I have to believe many others in the area will do so as well.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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3 Responses to Rockland Boulders And America’s Best New Ballpark

  1. Mike.BTB

    It’s kind of tough on CanAm teams to secure any real kind of recognizable players because of the roster restrictions on veterans. But like you said, that isn’t necessarily the draw; the convenient; affordable; and rather nice ballparks are. But I’ll also say this about the CanAm League and the Atlantic League. If you’re a big Baseball fan; and because of the restrictive policies at the (NYC) two Big League ballparks, these games are great venues for seeing some good to near great ex-MLB’ers; and actually meet and converse with them without getting chased away by security; as there are so many of them managing teams.

    You know I’ve been following what’s been happening to the Newark Bears. And I still continue to say, for a city with such a rich Baseball tradition, it would be such a shame for them to cease being a Baseball town. I had an idead maybe an East Coast Negro League Museum could be perfectly suited for Newark, and incorporated as part of a Newark Bears experience.

    The uniqueness of the Boulders will ease-up and then we’ll see their true fan base potential. But like you also said, they’ll need to tighten-up their marketing strategy. For now however, kudos to them for placing ads in NYC tabloids on weekends and paying for radio spots. I went to one game this year and the park looks sharp. They’ll work out the logistical kinks if they’re good at paying attention. Ranking second in attendance is a hell of an achievement for them.

  2. Stu B

    What makes it “America’s best new ballpark?” It looks like dozens of other minor league parks.

  3. Koos

    I’ve been to a couple of games. They actually do a great job. All the staff are well trained and attentive. The food and beer selection are both excellent.

    They do use quite a bit of email marketing with great specials, $3 off seats, $2 beers.

    I’ve also noticed that they have quite a few seats sold to local corporations who in turn distribute the tickets to their employees.

    I believe a winning team is the only thing they’re missing at this point.

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