What I love about Binghamton's ballpark is where it's placed and the "Baseball Shrine" in its concourse that details Binghamton's place in baseball history.
Nestled into downtown Binghamton amidst old homes and business with railroad tracks running behind the left field fence, NYSEG Stadium has a vintage location that wasn't chosen to revitalize an area but rather to compliment an existing neighborhood and blend in with its surroundings. As such, the stadium is part of the fabric of the town rather than an anchor to some grandiose redevelopment scheme.
Opened as Binghamton Municipal Stadium in 1992, it followed a modern trend and went corporate in 2001 thanks to a naming rights deal with New York State Electric & Gas but NYSEG Stadium is decidedly old school in design, with a single grandstand bisected by an aisle. All seats are serviced by a dark concourse that's behind the grandstand. In its cramped home plate portion is the shrine with plaques that detail the exploits of 50 something people who have been part of Binghamton-based teams over the decades. Notable names include Wee Willie Keeler and Whitey Ford (from the 1892 and 1949 teams, respectively). Plaques are on both the front and back walls of the concourse.
NYSEG Stadium is definitely a ballpark built for the common fan. Party areas are shoved all the way down the outfield lines - the picnic area in left, kids' stuff in right - and balcony skybox seating is separated from grandstand seating only by rails. The stadium has six skyboxes and each is fronted by a dozen seats.
Ever since it opened, Binghamton's stadium has been filled with stadium-style seats. Those below the aisle have cup holders. The perk provided for those sitting in the seats that are above the aisle and between the dugouts (sections 200-206) is they are covered by a roof. The roof is blue, as are all seats and portions of the exterior that have been painted.
NYSEG Stadium's facade is a combination of pale brickstone and concrete blocks. The stadium sits at the intersections of Fayette and Henry streets, where a semi-circular plaza lacks any landscaping and only three flag poles sprout up through its concrete. Near them is the box office and its four ticket windows. Above them is a hand-lettered marquee sign with room for four lines of limited text. Because the box office's number of ticket windows is limited a roll away station manned by a B-Mets staffer serves as will call.
Fans can enter the stadium in three places. Those who already have tickets mainly do so through a gate in right field that's adjacent to the stadium's primary and paved parking lot, which can hold about 500 cars and charges a $3 fee. A small gravel lot near the left field corner exists mainly to service the nearby tent covered picnic table area that groups can book. Picnickers enter the stadium within stone's throw of the gravel parking lot through gate 4, which is designated as the picnic gate entrance. Two gates are found behind home plate. Fans entering there find themselves in close proximity to an impressive in size team store.
While the stadium lacks much in the way of modern amenities, such as a berm and an open concourse, it can boast of a large scoreboard with a vivid video screen that spans the length of the line score. Given the simplicity of the stadium, the mega scoreboard that was installed in right-center field in 2007 almost feels out of place. The almost as tall message board in left field is as simple as they come and mainly exists to display backlit ads.
Both boards are framed by the charming environs that make up a Norman Rockwellian backdrop. Sloping silhouettes of the Catskills dominate, while the upper floors of Binghamton's biggest buildings loom above the symmetrical grandstand. Behind left field are the still used railroad tracks while an elevated bridge overpass seemingly cuts through trees in the distance beyond right field. Outside and across the street from the stadium are a post office, bar, and deli/bakery that calls attention to itself with one of its old delivery trucks hoisted up a pole.
With plenty of uniqueness just outside of its footprint, NYSEG Stadium is most memorable because of its barely within confines bullpens. Each is stationed by a foul pole, both of which are painted orange like the bigger big league versions at New York's Citi Field. Pitchers warm up when needed in territories on the foul side of each pole that are surrounded by fan areas. The Mets bench is behind a window-like cutout in the first panel of the right field wall, but the visitors bullpen bench is behind the group picnic area. Because of the obscured view, many an out of town pitcher chooses to watch the proceedings from the weed-infested hill that only they have access to behind the left field fence, where those in the knothole gang bullpen sit behind the wooden posts that prop up billboards.
As I'm sure relief pitchers would attest, most ballparks nowadays are better than NYSEG Stadium. But as a well-traveled ballpark visitor I can tell you few are as authentic. Charming in a rustic way, it reminds me of minor league stadiums of the pre mid-90s vintage, but with an idyllic setting as Binghamton and its ballpark are intertwined. Such an arrangement is always a great thing and greatly enhances what is an otherwise underwhelming stadium.