Innovative Field: Home of the Rochester Red Wings

Innovative Field: Home of the Rochester Red Wings
5/5/24: The Rochester Red Wings and Syracuse Mets are set to wrap up a six game series on a gloomy Sunday afternoon.

Innovative Field is a downtown ballpark that boasts great views of the city of Rochester but misses the mark in many categories. Although it was built in 1996, Innovative Field has the feel of an outdated ballpark.

Arriving to Innovative Field had its ups and downs. The ballpark is in a good location as it is situated right next to I-490 which runs through the city. This made the driving aspect very easy. However, since the ballpark is located right off the interstate it makes walking to the field a little unpleasant as pedestrians have to walk under the interstate that is not exactly designed for walking since there are portions with no sidewalk. Also, the actual area that the ballpark sits in isn't known to be the best part of the city.

The field design at Innovative Field has put it among the weirdest parks across the minor leagues. If you look towards the visiting bullpen in left field, you might notice that the bullpen creates a indent in the outfield wall. At the left center part of the wall (when the bullpen ends), the wall jumps back 15-20 feet, making the field layout have a unique shape.

Rochester Red Wings (AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals since 2021)
Established: 1899
Ballpark: Innovative Field (Built in 1996)
League: International League
Notable Alumni: Cal Ripken Jr., Justin Morneau, Mike Boddicker, Bob Gibson, Bobby Grich, Don Baylor, Brian Roberts, Boog Powell.
Championships: 17, most recently in 1997

Location/ Scenery/ Amenities (2.9/5)

There's a lot of positives and negatives in this category. It is clear that some corners were cut when they built the stadium in 1996. When walking around the concourse, you get the feel that it was constructed in the 70s. I wouldn't say it is at a point where they should tear it down but renovations are certainly necessary.

My main issue with this ballpark is the amount of advertisements they smushed into the outfield wall. The ballpark is situated in a way that incorporates the city skyline of Rochester, which is one of my favorite parts of this ballpark. But they completely cancelled that out when they decided to fill the empty space with advertisements that are so clunky they hinder the skyline view. Another negative in this category was the amenities within the ballpark. Innovative Field falls short in almost every aspects in terms of amenities from old and uncomfortable seats to lackluster large group/party spaces.

While it feels old and outdated in some areas, I'm still giving this aspect a middle of the road score due to the location of park (setting aside my thoughts on the outfield advertisements). I would also add that while lots of the amenities were misses, the concourse was very wide, which is always a plus.

Food (4.6/5)

Cheeseburger Plate which features home fries, mac salad, onions, chili, two cheeseburgers, and hot sauce.

The food at Innovative Field was absolutely fantastic. Mostly every concession stand featured a drink or dish that is a local favorite, most notably, the Cheeseburger Garbage Plate ($15), which is what I chose. The city of Rochester is known for garbage plates which are customizable in pretty much all aspects but often start with a base of home fries and macaroni salad. After that, you can add any protein imaginable (burgers, hot dogs, sausage, chicken, you name it) before topping with the condiments such as ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce. Simply put, you can't go to Rochester without getting a garbage plate. When I purchased the plate, I felt like it was priced up a bit. Once I saw the portion size, that thought was erased. I didn't even finish the entire plate, so I can't complain that the price wasn't worth it.

There was plenty of drinking options in the ballpark as well with local beers and cocktails spread across the concourse as well as a full bar on the third base side.

Entertainment (1/5)

The entertainment aspect of Innovative Field was a snooze fest. There was one or two on field games as well as some trivia between innings but nothing more than that.

Sam's Score: 56.6/100

Overall, I thought the ballpark was a little underwhelming. As I walked in I thought it had potential for a really high score. Other than the food, I thought Innovative Field missed the mark in a lot of areas. As I said previously, with a little facelift, this ballpark could be special.