If you want to take a look at what the future of baseball stadium construction looks like, look no further than Gastonia, North Carolina, or Caromont Health Park. The new home of the Atlantic League’s Gastonia Honey Hunters has some unique features to offer the world of professional baseball.
Caromont Health Park
CaroMont Health Park seats 5,000 people and has five rows from foul line to foul line, party decks, cabana seating, bleachers around the outfield, and a covered beer patio. The field is made of plastic and is designed for much more than just baseball games.
The arena is the centerpiece of the Franklin Urban Sports and Entertainment (FUSE) District, designed to promote economic development between downtown Gastonia and Loray Village. The multi-purpose facility will host additional sporting events, concerts, and other forms of entertainment.
Eating and drinking 4
The ballpark offers the usual hot dogs, nachos, peanuts, and burgers, but there are also other treats worth mentioning. The main concession stand behind home plate features Philly cheesesteak, chicken and waffles, and Korean pork belly, among others. The range varies, but if you’re feeling adventurous it’s worth a try.
The Carolina BBQ kiosk has a pleasant aroma to attract customers near the third baseline. Entrees and sides include Pulled Pork and Brisket Sliders, Pulled Pork Nachos, White Cheddar Mac and Cheese, and Triple Baked Beans with Burnt Tops. There is also a kiosk where pickles are hand dipped in the batter for fresh, never frozen, fried pickles.
Beer options include macro and microbrewery options. Local options include Sycamore, Appalachian Mountain, Olde Mecklenburg, Sugar Creek, and Catawba Brewing Companies. Domestic and premium 16-ounce beers run $6 to $7, while craft beers are slightly more expensive. I would take one since you are in the Carolinas.
The ballpark is spacious and features a 360-degree concourse, giving fans of all ages an area to hang out and watch baseball games. It does not follow the regular schedule of other minor league venues and has certain designated areas at different locations. However, there seems to be some form of seating at each break.
There are only five rows of seats in the stands, which stretch from foul pole to foul pole. Seeing behind the backstop is perhaps the closest you’ll get to professional baseball. Above this area in the hall are tables and chairs that provide more space for the customer. Visitors to the ballpark are offered a level of comfort found nowhere else.
The stadium features six covered cabanas on the third base side, a covered pavilion with rocking chairs along the left field line, and the Gas House Bar & Grill in the center field. This area also has a playground and batting cages – for players before the game and fans during the game. A railway line directly in front of the stadium adds to the charm, where you can watch a train go by in the evening.
Some other accents that make the place distinctive are the colors black, brown, and yellow. Honeycomb patterns and structures are visible in some parts of the building. There are inspirational signs throughout Ransom Hunter Stadium. There are two team stores, one at street level next to the box office, where you can choose from a variety of items during the game. The video scoreboard is 7 by 20 meters high.
The neighborhood around the baseball field is developing. Several new restaurants and a brewery are being built within walking distance of the stadium. Meanwhile, fans can drive about a mile to R.O.’s Bar-B-Que for pulled pork sandwiches with their signature coleslaw. The coleslaw is creamy and many locals use it as a dip or sauce. It’s a small place, but it’s been around since 1946. Another local barbecue joint is Ray’s Country Smokehouse, not far from the ballpark.
Cavendish Brewing is a quirky pub with several tasty beers and old, dated furniture to lighten the atmosphere. Jia Asian Fusion & Sushi Bar is an interesting place for Chinese, Asian, Thai, Cajun, and Mexican fusion dishes. Tavern 24 is an ideal place for pub food and drinks.
Depending on daylight savings time, an American Legion game may be held at Sims Legion Park. The baseball field is used for local high school and college games. You can also drive 30 miles to see a Charlotte Knights game at Trust Field.
Gastonia has several museums that are worth checking out when you visit. Schiele Museum of Natural History, American Military Museum, and African-American Museum of History and Culture.
The Honey Hunters are fifth in the league at the time of writing with an average of 2,107 fans. This is slightly below the league average and is somewhat surprising. The baseball field is brand new, modern, and comfortable. Our visit was during the day during a replacement game, but the local fan base may have just slept in a very fancy new facility for baseball and more.
The ballpark has many accessible access points for visitors. In addition, there are more than 2,700 parking spaces and public transport just a 10-minute walk away. The 360-degree hall gives fans a good view of the game and the signage is clear and visible.
Return on investment 4
The price of a ticket to a game is a bargain; General admission tickets are $7. Box seat prices range from $9 to $13 and home plate seats are $15. Concession prices are comparable to other clubs in the area and discounted items range from $20 for a t-shirt to $35 for a cap. Team caps are available in different colors, shapes, and sizes.
The ballpark deserves a point for its design, which is not unlike any other in professional baseball. There are only five rows of seats, giving fans one of the best views in baseball. A second point is given because the ballpark catalyzes the FUSE District to promote economic development in Gastonia. A third point concerns the name in honor of Random Hunter, who is believed to have been the first freed slave to own land in Gaston County in the late 19th century.
I enjoyed this ballpark and its importance to the Gastonia community. The concept of revitalizing the area with a baseball stadium and other industries is not new. The design is clear and the organization’s goals are visible throughout the building. Perhaps it is too early to judge CaroMont Health Park and I hope someone from this site will come back in a few years to judge it on its future merits. Maybe yes, because I would like to see his future.