|When I first visited Canal Park in 1998, it was only its second year of existence and it seemed like it was built in a deserted part of the city. Fast forward to 2016 when I finally made a return visit and it is easy to see that the ballpark was a catalyst for other businesses to pop up in the neighborhood. The atmosphere around the ballpark was certainly a lot livelier during my 2016 visit. Despite being almost 20 years old, Canal Park is still in great condition as the team has done a great job at maintaining it. Recent renovations have replaced some of the left field seats (which had been obstructed) with picnic areas and added a tiki bar behind the right field fence.
- A downtown setting is always a cool thing, especially when the neighborhood surrounding it offers restaurants and bars that fans can hit before or after the game. The buildings behind the outfield fence also give the park a unique backdrop.
- The team does a nice job of paying tribute to their history as an Indians farm club. On many of the posts along the concourse are paintings of noteworthy players who came through Akron (i.e. Manny Ramirez and Albert Belle).
- There is plenty to do for the kids if they aren’t into the game. In the outfield is a large inflatable slide and behind home plate is a “Fun Zone” with some kiddie games, including a dunk tank.
- Seats are all of the individual fold down variety. They used to have bleachers in right field, but those were removed with the recent renovations.
- The concourses are a bit narrow, especially by newer standards. Probably when the park opened in the late 1990’s, they were considered standard. However now, especially with large crowds, the concourses can feel very tight.
- The setting sun can be a real problem for fans sitting on the first base side. If you go to a sunny game here during the summer and sit on the first base side, you will struggle to watch the game for the first 6 innings or so. There probably isn’t much the team can do it about it now, but the architects sure have done a better job at positioning the ballpark so that the sun wasn’t in the eyes of the majority of the fans.
- Besides the sun making it hard to watch the game, the sightlines are also rather poor due to the slope of the seats being too gentle. Fortunately the netting has not been extended here and only runs dugout to dugout.
- There is no wraparound concourse. It would seem like there is room to put one in, so not sure why the team has decided against it. Without one, the park feels more crowded than it should.
- Parking is $5 is nearby surface lots and garages. This despite the city of Akron indicating on their website that parking is free after 6pm.
Canal Park has held up pretty well against newer parks, but has some serious flaws that hold it back from a being a truly top-notch facility - most notably the lack of a 360 degree concourse and the problem of the setting sun. While it is a fun enough place to take in a game, only the downtown location makes ut unique.
- Overall, there is a good variety of food options, though prices are a bit on the high side. Strangely, french fries were only available at one stand. Why would you have a popular food item only available one place?
- There are four main concession stands, each offering a slightly different array of options: Bier Garten, The Dog Pound, Godfather’s Kitchen, and Taters.
- Standalone carts offer cheesesteaks, Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, and specialty burgers and sausages.
- The Sock Hop is located down the right field line and offers up various ice cream treats.
- An impressive selection of craft beers (about 25) are available at a stand behind home plate.
- Hot dogs are priced at a reasonable $2, but were not that memorable.
- Not sure if it was just a problem the night I attended, but the cheese for the nachos was cold.
- For fans wanting something completely different, there is a full service restaurant called The Park located in the right field corner.