Top 10 Coolest Places to Watch a Sporting Event on Cape Cod

Everyone who loves sports at virtually every level has their favorite places to take in a game or event. Some folks still can’t believe the ancient, smoke-hazed, leaky-piped dinge of the old Boston Garden is now but distant memory, saved for tales of the good old days. Everyone loves Fenway Park of course, even people who dislike the beloved Bosox, because even in its revamped, postmodern manifestation it still maintains its original anachronistic flair, a sort of ineffable baseball mysticism of pain and glorious joy. As John Updike wrote in the New Yorker (1960), “Fenway Park is a little lyrical bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus like the inside of an old fashioned Easter Egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934 and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between man’s Euclidean determinations and nature’s beguiling irregularities.”

In short — it’s just way cool.

So what are the places on Cape Cod that provide for us some of those feelings, for better or worse? Well, we took a look at all the places we’ve seen games over the past year and here’s what we thought, mind you, these are strictly opinions and these places are not an attempt to “rank” anything. Enjoy.

  1. Elizabeth Lowell Park – 10 Lowell Avenue, Cotuit, MA – Owned by the Town of Barnstable but leased for 9 years by the Cotuit Athletic Association and home since 1947 to the 16-time Cape Cod Baseball League champions, the Cotuit Kettleers, this sage, old provincial delight, now almost wholly revamped, is a Cape Cod gem that represents all of the good
    Elizabeth Lowell Park - Cotuit Home of the Kettleers Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

    Elizabeth Lowell Park – Cotuit
    Home of the Kettleers
    Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

    things that remain with small-town America and its national pastime. Probably one of the last places on earth where little kids can be allowed to run free and fall in love with the game in its purest sense, Lowell Park has been for the last decade the central focus of investment by its chief overseer, the Cotuit Athletic Association. The organization has poured upwards of $1 million into the facility with Norman Rockwellesque new bleachers, a new kitchen facility, fantastic rest rooms, brick patios and walkways, the Arnold Mycock Press Building with accompanying Kettleers’ Store below, dugouts, new fencing, a revamped infield, state-of-the art scoreboard and so much more. The sense of place Lowell Park engenders is fostered by volunteers whose love of it is reflected therein and there isn’t a high school or American Legion or Cape League player who doesn’t love playing there. It’s one of the few places where you actually feel compelled to salute the high flying American flag waving above the treetops in centerfield once you walk in. Minus the cutting of the infamous “Arnold’s Tree” (named for General Manager Emeritus and Cape League Hall of Famer Arnold Mycock) whose pesky boughs draped into fair play, every detail of what’s been done to the nicest local baseball park this side of the Merrimack River has been given keen attention. It just feels like home.

  2. Falmouth Ice Arena – Falmouth, MA – We have to admit that when you walk into the Falmouth Ice Arena it makes you appreciate the excitement it fosters during the dismal, bitter months of winter. From the reasonably priced delicious food to the clear sightlines in the comfortable bleachers to the audio clarity of the game announcer, the place has a way of making you fall in love with ice hockey all over again. A crackerjack facilities management crew is always on top of things here and it is clean albeit compact, but makes you want to return again and again just to hear the roar of the crowd when a goal is scored, accompanied by rink music and just “people-watching” as they get into a well-played game. Rarely is there an issue with parking and honestly if you just try one of the snack bar cheeseburger and fries on a cold January night you’ll want to come back for more. True fans of hockey designed this place and you’ll see why when you go.
  3. The Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Skating Rink inside the Hyannis Youth and Community Center can be as entertaining a place as any on the Cape. Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

    The Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Skating Rink inside the Hyannis Youth and Community Center can be as entertaining a place as any on the Cape.
    Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

    Hyannis Youth & Community Center – Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Skating Rink: The Hyannis Youth and Community Center offers the best of many worlds and is a state-of-the-art collegiate-level facility from top to bottom where the beautiful aptly re-dedicated Kennedy Rink is accompanied by a gorgeous basketball gymnasium. The basketball court – with second story walking track above, offers seats right on top of any game, although the fantastic scoreboards are blocked in many areas and the teeny-tiny courtside bleachers are designed for Lilliputians, it’s hard not to enjoy a good high school game here. It’s really designed best for the player in mind, more so than the fans, but for the Cape hockey-loving crowds the main rink puts you right on top of the action with more seating than its Falmouth counterpart. The concessions are pretty good, too, as is the café style dining area overlooking the secondary rink and the sort of quasi-skybox effect of stool and countertop dining areas overlooking the main rink. The only detractor is there always seems to be racks of equipment and piles of maintenance debris scattered around both rinks making it slightly unsightly and difficult to navigate, at times, for the press. All in all though, the HYCC is truly a top shelf venue to take in a game for either sport but at the price it cost to construct it could use a little of the TLC that so many pour into a place like Lowell Park.

  4. Nauset Regional High School Football Field – Fully revamped in 2014, the football, soccer and lacrosse home of the Nauset Warriors is one fantastic place to take in the Friday Night Lights in fall and is one of the best places to do so. Granted, the visiting bleachers are dwarfed by the home side, but you’d find that at virtually any high school football/soccer stadium in Massachusetts. The investment by the greater Nauset community into the facility has reaped the dividends of an ever-increasing school choice selection by student-athletes across the Cape, of course, in combination with its superlative academic offerings. But this is not a ranking of “schools,” by any means and when it comes to places to watch a great high school match-up in any of the large field team sports, the home of the Nauset Warriors is at the apex in the region.
  5. Nauset Regional High School Gymnasium – As far as basketball gyms go, yes, we have to admit that the sky-high, old-school wooden bleachers that fold out to courtside
    The crowds at basketball games at Nauset are worthy of a mid-winter trip for any basketball fan. Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

    The crowds at basketball games at Nauset are worthy of a mid-winter trip for any basketball fan.
    Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

    opposing the home and away benches really make this place, as does the whole cavernous feel resonating with 1500 or 2000 screaming adolescents cheering on their school teams in the heat of a parquet battle. This is what high school basketball is supposed to be like on Cape Cod, not a gym dotted with a handful of parents armed with videocams and shouting at referees. Chomping down on a bowl of homemade chili and taking in a five-on-five blitzkrieg is about the best bang for your buck you can get on the Cape in the mid-winter months and the whole ambience is fostered by a friendly athletic department and its fully devoted coaches who understand that people come to be entertained by, if nothing more, sheer hustle and energy out on the main stage. The patina of the wood floor may be getting a little dingy with overuse and yes, the gray cement block walls and vinyl and mesh curtain separating the gym is slightly institutional but again, this is meant for high school basketball, not the UConn Huskies. All in all, this gym rocks whenever anyone comes to watch the Warriors play – for better or for worse – and you just can’t put a pricetag on school spirit like that. It’s infectious. The place, in short, rocks.

  6. Eldredge Park, Orleans – Home to the Orleans Firebirds of the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League and adjacent to Nauset Middle School, this park has been touted in such acclaimed periodicals as Sports Illustrated over the years and almost invariably ranks among the nicest places to watch a baseball game anywhere in Southeastern Massachusetts and beyond. From the hillside vendors reminiscent of Yawkey Way, to the bring your own lawnchair tiered grassy knoll seating along the first base side, Eldredge Park remains just as stated: it’s one of the most fun and relaxing places on the Cape to take in a game. Granted, there are soccer games played there in the offseason, putting strain on the lush outfield grass but the town of Orleans and the Firebirds do invest a considerable amount of time and effort in park upkeep. The cars whizzing by, dodging foul balls during game time can fray a parent’s nerves but the accompanying playgrounds and tennis courts are a huge plus and the bandshell out in rightfield – if used during games – would be a massive bonus… just imagine a jazz quartet or bluegrass band out there during a game providing theme music
    Baseball fans truly love Eldredge Park in Orleans. Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

    Baseball fans truly love Eldredge Park in Orleans.
    Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

    instead of the blaring hip hop blather that so often pollutes the air… The sounds here boom and you can virtually overhear people’s conversation as your milling around in between Major League Scouts and your next door neighbors as if your were at a perpetual fourth of July party. Yes, the scoreboard 302 feet out in leftfield is outdated and often on the fritz and the bullpens in left are a tad too close for comfort to fans, but all-in–all it’s great fun taking in a game in Orleans and you will never regret doing just that.

  7. BFC Whitehouse Field, Harwich – the improvements made here in the past decade are just breathtaking and they only serve to amplify an already pristine place to watch a baseball game at any level. Nestled amidst the Harwich pines, adjacent to the newly built Monomoy Regional High School, this beautiful baseball locale is almost like a tiny baseball village the way it’s designed and shelters the game while making it fun to just walk around and slide down a couple of the most delicious hot dogs on the Cape. What’s a ballgame without a couple of dogs, right? The scoreboard donated by former Major League Commissioner Fay Vincent remains the very best in the Cape League and there’s really no seat where it’s obstructed in any way. The bleachers are equal for both sides – home and away – and the groundskeeping is superlative as are the dugouts and the still compact feel of a hometown park. Once you attend a game here, you sort of feel like you don’t want the game to really end and you just as easily could sit down and have dinner right there at a picnic table as you could stand along the chainlink fence in the outfield and cheer on the rightfielder. Whitehouse Field is quite similar to its ancient sister Lowell Park in many ways, but we’re not saying either is better than the other. Truth be told, there’s more
    Whitehouse FIeld - Harwich Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

    Whitehouse FIeld – Harwich
    Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

    than one reason why the Eastern College Athletic Conference has hosted nine out of the last 13 NCAA DIII New England Regional baseball championships here and even more reasons why the bellowed Harwich Mariners continue to draw so many Cape League baseball fans: it’s just plain fun to be there.

  8. Clean Harbors Stadium, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Buzzards Bay – We’d be remiss not to mention the largest capacity football/soccer/lacrosse stadium on the Cape and certainly one of the nicest and cleanest venues to take in a Saturday afternoon college football game in the region, bar none. Watching tug boats or large oil tankers glide slowly by down the Cape Cod Canal just 50 yards away is an added bonus for sure as it serves as a constant reminder that we are a region bound by the sea. This is Cape Cod, after all. There are no obstructed views and with a full house it can get loud in the heart of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy campus and exciting as every bit of the action is displayed from one side of the field. It’s about as professional as it gets here, the sound system is exceptional and the scoreboard is big enough to know what’s going and when. Yes, it’s usually breezy down in Buzzards Bay but that’s just the way it is. A coat is ALWAYS recommended here regardless of the time of year, but that’s not to dissuade sports fans from the pleasant atmosphere inherent in a school built on discipline and sacrifice. If you love college football or soccer or lacrosse, turn the TV off and check out a game at Clean Harbors, it’s guaranteed to give you your money’s worth.
  9. Monomoy Regional High School Gym – Having watched high school basketball in every gymnasium on the Cape, well, they can all be fun if it’s a good game and you love watching the fast-paced five-on-five action that is promised by virtually any of the nearly three dozen varsity programs on the Cape (girls and boys included). But take a walk inside the new Monomoy Regional High and you are going to be blown away, from every architectural detail in the hallways alone, straight into one of the sharpest high school basketball gymnasiums there is on this peninsula. The gleaming parquet floor alone is a sight to behold not to fail to mention the sense of magnitude of the entire arena just by its sheer design. No, there’s not quite the game day culinary delights of say Falmouth High’s hoop games or even Barnstable’s or Nauset, but if you’re an aficionado of the game of basketball the way it used to be played with sheer hustle and relentless defense, then this is a venue you want to check out. Simply put, there isn’t a negative thing about it’s bright, fan- and player-friendly layout that we didn’t like when we first stepped in there last
    Clean Harbors Stadium Massachusetts Maritime Academy Photo courtesy MMA Athletics

    Clean Harbors Stadium
    Massachusetts Maritime Academy
    Photo courtesy MMA Athletics

    winter, right from the scorer’s table to the scoreboards to the comfort knowing players weren’t going to break their necks crashing into cement walls chasing after a loose ball. It’s an A-plus facility with enough room for the largest of crowds.

  10. We decided to leave this one blank. We’d like to hear from our readers about the places they think are cool to take in a sporting event on the Cape and we’ll let everyone know the results a week from now. Just submit your recommendations, thoughts or ruminations to Capecod.com Sports Editor Sean Walsh at seanwalsh@ccb-media.com.

— Sean Walsh is the sports editor for www.capecod.com. His email is seanwalsh@ccb-media.com. Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm

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