As Hartford Nears Stadium Groundbreaking, Norwich Ranked #6 Minor League Baseball City in USA

With winter snow piling up and the planned groundbreaking for a new minor league baseball stadium in Hartford only weeks away, it seemed the perfect time to turn attention to baseball – and which cities are earning notice in the minor league landscape.  Among local franchises, tops on the list is Norwich, home of the Connecticut Tigers, the Class-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, and a member of the NY-Penn League. An analysis of baseball’s 159 minor league cities following the 2014 season by the website, ranked Norwich #6 among the Top 25 Best Minor League Towns.

The top ten were: Portland, ME; Alexandria, VA; Pearl, MS; Frisco, TX; Appleton, WI; Norwich, CT; Bowie, MD; Round Rock, TX; Hillsboro, OR; and Midland, MI.  Other New England franchises earning a slot in the top 25 include Lowell, MA and Manchester, NH. minor_league_baseball_1-1

The analysis considered five “quality of life” factors in determining the top 25 baseball cities.  The factors were:

  • Violent Crime per 100,000 Residents
  • Property Crime per 100,000 Residents
  • Disposable Income – The difference between average income and the average monthly rent for a two bedroom apartment.
  • Unemployment Rate
  • Dining & Entertainment Establishments per 100,000 Residents

As a secondary consideration, the analysis sought to determine which cities enjoyed the best baseball experience, dubbed the “team” score. Three factors were considered:

  • Team Win Percentage – During the 2014 regular season.
  • Stadium Experience – A ranking of every minor league ballpark, courtesy of, which attended a game at every single minor league stadium.
  • Minor League Class – A measure from 0-50 based on the level of competition: Triple-A teams receive a 0, Double-A teams a 10, Class A Advanced a 20, and so on.

To determine America’s Best Minor League Baseball Towns, the Quality of Life Score and the Team Score were added, giving 80% weight to the former and 20% to the latter, according to the website.

Ranked at #6, the Connecticut Tigers had their best season on the field in 2014, setting a franchise record for wins and clinching a sTigerspot in the postseason for the first time in their five year franchise history.  The franchise plays home games at Dodd Stadium in Norwich.  The facility celebrated its 20th year in 2014.

Of Norwich, the website noted that “The Rose of New England sits at the confluence of three rivers in Connecticut’s serene southeast corner,” and “had the third highest concentration of (restaurant and entertainment) attractions of any Minor League town.”

Ranked #25, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats are owned by Art Solomon, father of New Britain Rock Cats owner Josh Solomon.  The Rock Cats will be moving to Hartford from New Britain for the 2016 season, with groundbreaking on their new stadium in Hartford slated for later this month. The Colorado Rockies signed a two-year player development contract with the Rock Cats last fall, after the Minnesota Twins ended a two-decade affiliation agreemDoddent.

No state had more than three top 25 towns, and 19 different states had at least one. Texas and Virginia were the leading Minor League Baseball states, with three towns each in the top 25.  SmartAsset is a financial technology company that provides data and advice related to personal finance decisions.


newhartford_sept3Artists conception of planned baseball stadium in Hartford.

Two Minor League Baseball All-Star Games in Connecticut This Summer

It is an all-star summer in Connecticut, with the state hosting not one but two minor league all-star games.  The New Britain Rock Cats, the Double-A Eastern League affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, will host the annual Eastern League All-Star Game at New Britain Stadium on Wednesday, July 10, preceded by a series of fan events in Hartford and New Britain.  And the Connecticut Tigers of the New York – Penn. League (NYPL) will host that league’s all-star game at Dodd Stadium in Norwich on Tuesday, August 13.

The Rock Cats have planned community events for fans leading up to the game, both at the ballpark and in the state’s Capitol City. The community events include:

·         All-Star Fan Fest The Rock Cats along with MECA (Marketing, Events & Cultural Affairs for the City of Hartford) will host an All-Star Fanfest on Friday, July 5th at 5:00 PM at Bushnell Park in Downtown Hartford. This free event will be open to the public and include: A Ribbon Cutting ceremony, Vintage Baseball Exhibition, Beer Garden, Food Vendors, Wiffle ball games, inflatable games and mascots for the kids. The event will culminate with a public screening of A League of Their Own as part of Hartford Parks' "Movies After Dark Series."

·         Wiffle Ball Tournament for Charity  

The Rock Cats are creating a mini baseball park inside Bushnell Park in Downtown Hartford. The space will be used for a community Wiffle Ball tournament, Monday July 8th through Wednesdrock cats all staray July 10th, sponsored by UnitedHealthcare. The Wiffle Ball Tournament will include teams from local companies and will benefit charities such as the YMCA of Greater Hartford.

·         Celebrity Skills Challenge The Rock Cats will host an All-Star Celebrity Skills Challenge at New Britain Stadium on Tuesday July 9th, the night before the game. This event will kick off 6:00 PM and include an autograph session with the All-Star players. Ticket prices range from $8 to $12 and a portion of event proceeds will benefit local charities.NYPL

The 2013 Eastern League All-Star Classic Presented by Dunkin Donuts will take place on Wednesday, July 10th at 7:05 PM at New Britain Stadium. The All-Star Game features the top players in the Eastern League from all 12 clubs as voted by fans, field managers and media. The Hartford Hilton will serve as the official host hotel and Dattco will serve as the official transportation supplier. Tickets range from $10 to $22 and are now on sale by calling the box office at 860-224-8383 or at The Rock Cats last hosted the All-Star Game in 2003.

The 2013 New York-Penn League All-Star Game will take place on Tuesday, August 13 at 7:35 p.m. at Dodd Stadium in Norwich. The All-Star Celebration logo honors the community's rich maritime history and it's affiliation with the American League Champion Detroit Tigers. Maritime flags, an anchor and a dock rope make up the nautical logo, combined with classic Tigers old English lettering. Ticket prices for the All-Star Celebration Game are the same as the 2013 single game ticket prices: $10.00 for premium seat tickets, $9.00 for reserved seat tickets and $8.00 for grandstand seat tickets and are currently available online and at the ticket office at Dodd Stadium.  The Tigers home opener for the 2013 season is Monday, June 17.