Conveniently located in Wilmington’s Riverfront, Frawley Stadium is in its 28th year playing host to the Wilmington Blue Rocks, who are in their first season as the Washington Nationals’ High-A affiliate. With a brick exterior and single-tiered stadium seating, Frawley is a clean-looking ballpark–fresh, but not eccentric.
The brick blends well with Wilmington’s industrial surroundings, and the blue seating cascades as an ode to the nearby Christiana River and Port of Wilmington.
If the ballpark, in a general sense, is the meeting place of the urban and rural, Wilmington is a pivotal baseball city. To its north lies the most significant stretch of urbanism in North America, the congested I-95 corridor from Washington to Boston. To its south, the rural Delmarva peninsula runs unvisited and overlooked except for the summer transit of beach-goers.
With downtown Wilmington visible beyond right field and the Christiana River not far away, Frawley is a well-located park. Yet, its orientation does not fully capitalize on either of these features, making it a pleasant, but not necessarily special venue for a baseball fan–a perfectly fine park to which I’ll return out of convenience if not particular desire.
At the southern end of downtown Wilmington, Frawley is displaced enough to keep Delawareans free from intense rush hour traffic if arriving from the south. For Philadelphians, or those traveling from the north, there are no promises in arriving efficiently along I-95.
Frawley has ample parking on either side of the park. As of the 2021 season, parking is completely free.
Wilmington’s Riverfront is among the better neighborhoods in the city for visitors.
Nearby, Iron Hill Brewery is a popular, tasty spot for high-end pub food and good, local beer.
Big Fish Grill on the Riverfront might appeal to those desiring seafood.
The Jack Markel Trail parallels the Christiana River just a few stones throws from the baseball field. It’s a pleasant, safe afternoon stroll for those who have time to spend in Wilmington before the game.
Where to Sit
It’s hard to accept paying double digit dollars for a Single-A game when I once paid just $9 to sit behind the dugout at Great American Ball Park. But Single-A prices do appear to be rising in the recent seasons.
But at the cheapest, you can get into Frawley Stadium for $13 a person to sit in the general admission grandstand above the third base line.
For $17 and $15 respectively, you can sit closest to the field or in the next section above in blue stadium seats.
There is a significant military discout, however, and presumably discounts for other specialty groups.
For what it’s worth, the Thursday night game I attended in May was sparsely populated and tickets were not being checked once inside the gates.
The most unique vantage point in the park is at the picnic tables along the right field line just beneath the Chickie’s and Pete’s concession stand. Grab some food and a brewski and enjoy the game from a relaxed table with sufficient space between you and nearby diners.
Where to Eat
Inside, the options are limited, but on par with other Single-A parks.
Chickie’s and Pete’s is likely your go-to for anything slightly better than normal ballpark fare. Cheesesteaks of both the chicken and beef varieties are $11. Chicken and Old Bay-laced fries are also available.
For pizza fans, there’s a Grotto stand just to the third base side of home plate.
Like most states nowadays, Delaware does love their local beer. Bars on either side of home plate have both cans and drafts of local favorites as well as domestic basics.
Like in most minor league stadiums, foul balls generally exit the confines of Frawley rather easily. The ushers will often retrieve them from just beyond the fence and donate them to nearby kids in the stands.
Netting extends almost all the way down each line near the foul poles, so invasive line drives are not a safety concern to those sitting near the field.
Sense of Place
The vista beyond the outfield is a fitting tribute to America’s northeast. The park sits where Delaware meets the megalopolis, a vast stretch of highway, cities, and suburbia from Washington to Boston.
Behind left field, I-95 snakes around the stadium and lights up the field of vision with vibrant orange cones and, if you’re lucky, the clamor of a jackhammer. Beyond right field, the humble high rises of downtown Wilmington give a fleeting taste of the cosmopolitan.
So sitting along the left field/third base line makes the Wilmington Blue Rocks appear a proper urban team.
The water of the surrounding neighborhood sets a marine, mid-Atlantic mood if you’re able to enjoy it before the game. Otherwise, it’s just unfortunate the park couldn’t have been blended into the waterfront itself. The two blocks between the field and the river degrade the park from excellent to simply good.
Despite not being worked into a downtown grid, the Wilmington skyline, however unimpressive, is well-capitalized in its right field view. Although had the field been oriented just a few degrees clockwise, the urban sightline would better dominate over the ugly highway in left.
Frawley stadium is a perfectly enjoyable, fan-friendly place to watch a professional ballgame. With its local drinks, decent eats, and convenient-but-urban location, it ranks among the better Single-A destinations.