Joseph Riley Park
Review by Gary
Joseph Riley Park was completed in 1997 and is the home of the Charleston Riverdogs of the single-A South Atlantic League. With a capacity of 6,000, the stadium is named after Charleston's longest-serving mayor who was instrumental in its construction. Nearby Citadel college shares the stadium with the RiverDogs.
Charleston’s Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began in 1861, may have been where the city's baseball history also was born. Abner Doubleday was a Union soldier stationed at the fort. Charleston, known as the Holy City, saw its first professional ball team debut in 1886.
“The Joe”, as it is lovingly known, was designed by the same company that built Camden Yards, Jacobs Field and Coors Field, to name a few. The main entry into the park is along the third baseline, as the first base side of the park lies along the banks of the Ashley River, with views of its tributaries visible from the concourse behind first base. The aptly-named Ashley’s View Pub high behind the first base bag is also a primo spot to look at the marshy sights.
There are two more covered picnic areas, including Doby’s Deck, named after South Carolina native Larry Doby, to enjoy the game while gorging on all-you-can eat grub. Double-decked suites and press boxes form the centerpiece of the ballpark with the green-metal roof lining the building from base-to-base.
There isn’t a bad seat in the house at The Joe. All of the viewing choices are from pole to pole with palmetto trees lining the outfield fence. Fans attending a Riverdogs game may run into SNL-alum and Charleston resident Bill Murray, as the Ghostbuster is a co-owner of the team. On the cool 82-degree evening when we attended a game, the hometown Dogs survived a ninth inning rally by the visiting Salem Red Sox to take the victory, 7-5, before 3,800 fans.