Herts Baseball Club has released initial details of the reconfiguration of Grovehill Ballpark for Herts Falcons National Baseball League (NBL) home games this season.
In December Herts launched its NBL Pilot Project which aims to take the club and the sport to the next level. The new business model is designed to grow the fan base, attract spectators to its National Baseball League (NBL) games, generate revenue and build a highly competitive team by offering financial rewards to coaches and players.
As part of that project, Grovehill Ballpark will look very different as it prepares to welcome ticket-buying spectators for the first time in the club’s 27-year history.
The image above shows the ballpark layout and seat map with a capacity for 196 spectators which can be increased to 499 for high profile games such as the postseason playoffs.
40 of the tickets will come with seats. The other 156 will be lower-priced tickets for fans who would like to bring their own seats or who would prefer to stand. If demand for tickets with seats is high, there is flexibility to add more. There is a limited number of premium seats which are located behind home plate and they will give those fans an up-close view of the pitcher-versus-batter duel. If demand for premium tickets is high, the club can look to add more in future seasons.
Example of a ballpark offering bring-your-own-seat tickets.
Home and away fans – game day atmosphere
Unlike MLB ballparks, Herts will adopt the British tradition of providing a separate sector for away fans. This is expected to enhance the atmosphere, especially when facing direct rivals, as both sets of fans would not want their rivals to have stronger support.
Home fans will occupy the blocks on the third base side of the ballpark while away fans will be on the first base side. The reason for this is that the third base side can accommodate more fans. Some home blocks have a partially restricted view of the left field foul pole area due to trees, but this is not likely to have a major negative effect for those spectators.
Since the opening of the diamond in 2010, home teams have usually been in the dugout on the first base side which means the Herts Falcons will have to get used to being in the third base dugout.
View of the infield from the home fans sector
One advantage which Grovehill Ballpark has over MLB stadiums is that it is not expected to sell 40,000 tickets so there will be ample space in the spectator areas. With this in mind there will be more leg room and around 30cm of space between each seat for greater comfort but not much more than that as keeping fans closer together is likely to create a more vibrant atmosphere, more social interaction and the feeling of being part of a community of fans supporting the team. The same approach will be adopted for the away sector.
Food and Beverage
Food and beverage will play an important part in the game day experience. If the project produces good results in 2023, the club is aiming to put the required facilities in place to be able to offer a unique menu and not just the food we have become accustomed to at sports and entertainment venues.
The club is also looking into adding a gathering area with tables for greater social interaction while having a drink and a snack during the game.
Game Day Entertainment
The game will always be the main event of the day, but there will be so much more to look forward to before, during and after the game. The club will publish more details of this closer to Opening Day.
Activities for Kids
Boys and girls coming to the ballpark will want to get involved in playing baseball. Over the course of the season some of the game days will be themed specifically for children and they can look forward to activities such as batting, pitching, fielding, base running practice and contests. A special PlayBall diamond will be set up for those events. Full details will be published prior to those game days.
The club hopes that this element of the NBL Pilot Project will introduce more children to the game of baseball and will see them join the Herts Youth Baseball League teams and, in a few years time, we hope to see those young Herts baseball fans put on the Herts Falcons jersey and play in the NBL.
Other ballpark facilities
On game days, fans can also look forward to Herts merchandise such as baseball caps, t-shirts and hoodies.
The club is currently in discussions with Dacorum Borough Council working towards improving and increasing the capacity of toilet and washing facilities at the ballpark. Providing clean and tidy amenities is a top priority for the club.
The NBL Pilot Project is a year-long experiment therefore many of the installations will be pop-up and temporary in nature. This includes the barrier fence along the boundary of the spectator areas. There is a slight risk of members of the public jumping over the fence but this will be monitored by event staff and ticket-holders will be given a wrist band – different colour from one game to the next – to ensure that those without tickets can be identified easily and escorted out of the spectator area.
We have only two months until the launch of the 2023 NBL season. Season ticket sales are coming up shortly and there will be a lot more information in the coming weeks. Follow the club on social media and on hertsbaseball.com for all the latest news.