Chronological Tour: Stop 159

Ballpark as Amusement Ride

On the way into Blair County Ballpark, Aug-1999.

A view of the seating bowl from the outfield bleachers, Sep-2008.

A roller-coaster dominates the view beyond the right field fence.

Quick Facts: Rating: 4 baseballs
There’s been a lot of talk recently about the recent trend toward ballpark as theme park, where there are all sorts of activities set up to keep people (particularly the little ones) entertained during those moments when the game is little more than a distraction.

Blair County Ballpark goes a step further: a ballpark in the middle of an amusement park. Almost. The site of this new yard is adjacent to Lakemont Park, an amusement fixture just outside Altoona city limits for many years. (The amusement park did not open in 2017, and its future is uncertain, according to one spectator on my most recent visit.) Home runs to right field actually stand a chance of hitting a roller coaster; other rides and attractions are visible from the grandstand areas. A new three-deck parking garage has been built beyond left field to accommodate visitors to both facilities. And the whole complex is easy to get to, just off Frankstown Road at Route 220 (a freeway recently re-designated I-99).

On top of all that, it’s a beautiful stadium. Actual seating capacity is just 6200, but the seating arrangement makes it look like it holds many more. There is a lower deck, with a main concourse, and an upper deck complete with its own concourse. Both levels have concession and souvenir stands. Portals from the upper concourse lead to the upper deck, with several rows of “upper box” seats below the portal level, just as in “big” ballparks. The luxury box / press box level is above the “300” seats. An additional outfield bleacher seats another thousand fans, and “Rail King” club seats are located on a left-field party deck.

I thought I was falling in love with the place the moment I got out of the car, but I soon realized its one shortcoming. The Sunday afternoon game I had selected started at 1, and the seating arrangement is such that there is absolutely no shade in the seating bowl until about 2:45. The day I visited was the last day of the heat wave, and it was brutal. I looked like a lobster in no time flat. Fortunately, in recent seasons Sunday games have started at 3:05 in the spring and 6:05 in the summer, though that has precluded me from making a return visit as it’s no longer a day trip for me.

I did make a return trip for the 2008 season finale, a noon start which sadly reminded me of the trouble with not shading any seats in a field that faces south. The only available shade was on the lower concourse, where views can easily be obstructed by other spectators. My 2017 game was an evening game, and it was quite enjoyable.

Game # Date League Level Result
370 Sun 1-Aug-1999 Eastern AA Akron 5, ALTOONA 4
965 Mon 1-Sep-2008 Eastern AA ALTOONA 8, Reading 2
1604 Sun 3-Sep-2017 Eastern AA ALTOONA 6, Harrisburg 0
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This page updated 3-Sep-2017