Review by Mike
Dutchess Stadium is the home of the Hudson Valley Renegades of the South Atlantic League. At first glance, Dutchess Stadium appears to be in the middle of nowhere. Then you look again... and it's still in the middle of nowhere. Oh, it's right next to Interstate 84, just across from a prison, and this makes it easy to get to, but there is no great population center from which to draw the crowds. There's Newburgh across the river and Poughkeepsie to the north, but only small towns in the immediate vicinity. It seems not to matter, though, as the Renegades are one of the toughest tickets in the Hudson Valley. They line up at the stadium on the first day of ticket sales and get numbered wristbands for the right to buy tickets. You'd think Springsteen were playing in Fishkill, not a class A baseball team.
The stadium was hastily constructed when the franchise was granted back at the end of 1993, and they did a pretty decent job of it. It's a pretty straightforward grandstand without much to distinguish it, but it is comfortable enough and serves the purpose of letting you see the game. The concourse is under the stands as is a nice gift shop. The view beyond the fence is quite agreeable and you get some pretty glorious sunsets over the mountains on summer evenings.
Despite the basic design and low frills construction of Dutchess Stadium, what sets it apart is the atmosphere. The crowds are lively and enthusiastic, with the festivities being led by a PA announcer that is more interested in entertainment than providing the required information to the crowd. This could go either way and I know that some find him annoying, but I think he's great. The announcer at "The Dutch" keeps it light, keeps it fun and distracts the fans from all of the weak grounders to shortstop they are watching. If nothing else, it is unique, and sets the experience at a Renegades game apart from the ordinary.
There is reserve seating in comfortable folding seats and a good deal of bleacher seating along each line. The reserves are nice, but the bleachers are a nightmare on a crowded night. They are general admission, with no numbers on the benches. Our one foray into this area found it to be so crowded (not helped by people putting backpacks on the benches and ignoring pleas from "security" to make room) that two of the four of us had to stand during the entire game while our wives sat crushed between two families. If you go to a weekend game, get reserved seats.
My favorite memory of my several visits was that night we had to stand. The promotion that evening was a visit by "The King of Bud", a Budweiser-sponsored entertainer who danced on the dugout roof between innings, dressed in a Superman-like outfit that looked like a Budweiser can. It was so inappropriate for such a family-oriented place that it was hysterical. The spot we were standing was right next to the little booth where the King rested between innings and we chatted with him throughout the game. After the 5th inning, the King of Bud handed me five bucks and said, "Could you get me a beer? Make it a Heineken." It doesn't get any better than that.
"Dutchess is a great ballpark with many dedicated fans! I may have enjoyed the best meal I have ever eaten at a ballpark. One vendor was selling home-made chicken parmigiana, stuffed shells and baked ziti. For a mere $7, I requested a combination of the first two choices and received a hearty portion. It was just like Mom used to make! It wasn't until after I finished this feast that I noticed that the entire field except for the pitching mound and home plate areas were covered in ASTRO-TURF! Even the base paths were a dirt-colored turf material! That was a first for me to see at a minor league park. Still, I give "the Dutch" 4 stars! ”