|Harbor Park opened in 1993 to many accolades and much praise as it was one of the first new minor league ballparks built in the "Camden Yards" era. At the time, it really was one of the best as besides Buffalo's Pilot Field, there weren't many others that could stack up to it. I first visited Harbor Park in 1997, and at the time I was pretty impressed. In 2014, I returned for another visit and came away less impressed, probably because of so many other great parks which were built in between my two visits. The park does hold up well, but could use a bit of sprucing up as it doesn't appear that many upgrades have been made since it opened.
- The Tides do a great job of honoring their history in the Norfolk area. Plaques both outside the park and along the concourse feature famous players who have played in Norfolk. Also, the plaque from their former home, Met Park, also is on display in the concourse.
- The main concourse (which serves both the lower and upper decks) is spacious and overlooks the field. There are also numerous concession stands and a team store accessible from the concourse.
- A commuter rail station is located in front of the park. The glass windows are nicely adorned with images of baseball players.
- New group seating was installed before the 2014 season. Love the small tables with swivel chairs !
- The sound of live music fills the concourse prior to the game. I always enjoy this at a game as it gives a ballpark a more festive feel. It is better than just listening to canned music over the PA system.
- As the name of the ballpark suggests, it is located adjacent to the harbor. There are nice of views of the water, including some large naval ships, during the daytime.
- The overall atmosphere is pretty lively and most fans seem into the game. The Tides do more between inning promotions than most AAA team, but they don't interfere with the game.
- Many of the seats are a bit far from the action. This is due to a useless center concourse that breaks up the lower seating bowl as well as the upper decks which are locate on each side of the ballpark. Sightlines are fine, however, so the problem is more just a lack of intimacy.
- Because it was built in 1993, there is no wraparound concourse. Its location along the harbor may prevent this anyhow.
- The video board is in need of being replaced. While it still functions ok, it does not feature an HD screen.
- The area behind the right field fence looks a bit dumpy. If the team doesn't want to use the space (or are unable to), they should at least try to spruce it up a bit.
- Smoking is permitted in the left field picnic area. This is something rarely seen at ballparks nowadays, though perhaps in the south they still need to cater to the large smoking population.
- Prices are a bit on the high side. The cheapest ticket is $13, parking is $5, programs are $5, and most beer was $9 or more.
As with any park that is 20+ years old, some work needs to be done to keep Harbor Park up to date. While it is still a fine ballpark for AAA baseball, it would be nice to see some more significant renovations done. With places like Durham Bulls Athletic Park undergoing constant renovations, it makes you wonder why a place like Harbor Park hasn't had the same. Perhaps there is less they can do in Norfolk, but it would nice for them to at least try. With a new ballpark slated to open in nearby Virginia Beach in 2015 (for an independent Atlantic League team), it will be interesting to see whether attendance is affected here.
- The concourse has numerous concession stands offering a good variety of food and beer options. Prices tend to be a bit on the high side, but quality seemed to be quite good.
- Hot Dog Nation is a stand which servers up various hot dogs with toppings. I sampled the "Oriole" dog, which features mac & cheese and crabmeat.
- Soft pretzels are served up hot from a grill, just like they used to do at the old Yankee Stadium. There aren't many places left you can get a grilled pretzel !
- Mexican food is offered at a stand along the third base side. Their signature item seemed to be the "Helmet" nachos, which as it sounds is a mound of tortilla chips served in a helmet with various toppings. Certainly not a single serve item !
- Flamingo Joe's serves up treats like funnel cakes, fried Snickers and fried Twinkies.
- Regular ballpark fare (hot dogs, sausages, fries, etc) is served up at Dugout Dawgs, Rosie's Grill, and Chesapeake Sausage Company stands.