Down by the Bay: Prince George’s Stadium lacks a city and a shore

When I inquired to Paul Fritschner, Bowie’s new full-time broadcaster, why the Baysox existed in Bowie as opposed to the more-picturesque and independently-relevant Annapolis just a few miles east, he surmised that the town simply capitalized on the lack of baseball in Washington, D.C. for those 33 years by attracting a thirsty market to a nearby suburb. If that’s the case, it’s miraculous that the Baysox have lasted in Bowie this long, even surviving the recent shrinkage of Minor League Baseball.

Paul sits in the press box behind me and Ben Lawler at a May 2021 Baysox game

Prince George’s Stadium, the suburban home of Baltimore’s Double-A Baysox, even improved in the interstitial time between their last pitch of 2019 and the first of 2021. It underwent a renovation that brought fresh paint to the exterior, refurbished outfield walls, and new pavement in the parking lot.

Less than 10 miles east of the beltway, Bowie is a short drive for any Washingtonian or Baltimorean looking for a relaxed evening of, in 2021 at least, superb baseball.

Baltimore’s minor league system is as stacked as it’s been in recent memory–as happens when the major league team strings together years of incompetence and subsequent elite draft picks. Adley Rutschman, the switch-hitting catcher on the fast track to the majors, has already teed off on multiple jaw-dropping home runs in his short tenure in Bowie. And DL Hall, a flame-throwing left-handed starter, is averaging an insane strikeout-to-inning ratio (nearly 2:1).

Getting There

From the Eastern Shore, take the Bay Bridge and continue west past Annapolis. You’ll reach Bowie even before you hit the beltway. So unless you’re coming west on a summer Sunday afternoon, it’s an easy trip.

From Baltimore, Bowie is less than half an hour to the south.

From D.C., just take I-495 to U.S. 50 East. Travel time, of course, depends. 

The Neighborhood

The Baysox are suburban in the truest sense of the word. And their stadium reflects those roots. 

Tucked in behind Home Depot off U.S. 301, you’ll weave through a few lighted intersections and cross some grassy medians between the highway and the stadium’s vast parking lots.

The Bowie Town Center is just two miles from the stadium and has the expected dining and shopping options suitable for your needs.

Old Town Bowie, not far away, is frankly an unimpressive couple of blocks with buildings that have seen better days and an underwhelming assortment of shopping and dining. The saving grace is Old Bowie Town Grille–a local restaurant offering well-reviewed food and outdoor live music during the warm months.

Another notable local food option is Langway’s All American Sports Bar, about 15 minutes north of the stadium. Owned by Washington Capitals legend Rod Langway, it’s got a hearty menu of burgers and sandwiches and a large outdoor seating section. From the exterior, it looks like a real dive, but inside it’s genial.

If you plan to drive straight to the stadium without sitting down to eat anywhere, there’s a Chick-fil-A right next to the aforementioned Home Depot.

Where to Sit

Box Seats, sections 101-124, are the closest to the field and run around $16. The lower numbers are closer to home plate while the higher numbers are farther down each line (even numbers on the third base side, odd numbers on the first base side). 

Behind, sections 201-206 constitute the Reserved Seats. They go for $13 online, or $11 with youth, senior, or military discounts. 

The General Admission sections are adjacent to the Reserved Seats, extending farther down each line. For $8, you’ll sit on a metal bench and have a slightly less desirable vantage point for the game. 

To my curiosity’s chagrin, the only unique seating section or party deck is a picnic area down the left field line, above the GA seats, well-removed from the field. Presumably, once COVID protocols are lifted, fans could sit on the berms down either line as well.

Sense of Place

Along the right field line stands an orange and white lighthouse, which illuminates upon a Bowie home run, evoking an idyllic oasis just beyond the team’s reach.

The Baysox name does lean into Marylanders’ pride in and affinity for the water. And had the team been placed in or near Annapolis, there’d be a decent chance for a waterfront vista from the park. But as it is, it’s just a forest visible beyond the outfield wall. 

I actually quite like a deciduous woodland backdrop for the game. It allows for a purity in the relationship between baseball and nature, setting a Midsummer Night’s Dream-like atmosphere. It helps, of course, if you forget about all the concrete, asphalt, and gasoline you saw on your drive in to the stadium.

In an era of increasingly-urban ballparks, Bowie is at a distinct disadvantage with no proper urban fabric anywhere between D.C. and Annapolis. So Prince George’s Stadium, suburban and utilitarian, is overall underwhelming.

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