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Hadlock's Maine Monster beckons hitters
07/05/2005 2:33 PM ET
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Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs, may be the only park in the Minors that leaves no question as to who their affiliate is: the Boston Red Sox.

One look over to left field where "The Maine Monster" is located is sure to remind fans of Fenway Park. The replica is affectionately known as the little brother of the Green Monster, complete with giant Coke bottles and a Citgo sign.

"We thought it would be a nice touch to the ballpark, and the fans love it," said Chris Cameron, media relations director for the Sea Dogs. "The Sox look at it as a great feature for player development -- guys can learn how to play the wall so they are more prepared for the Green Monster in Fenway."

After basking in the World Series win by their parent team, Sea Dogs fans will flock to Hadlock for another celebration as it gets ready to host the Eastern League All-Star Game on Wednesday, July 13.

The stadium itself was built in 1994 over a field that has been in Portland since the late 1800s. Since opening, Hadlock has seen three different expansion projects in response to the demand for tickets and is gearing up for a fourth project at the end of this season.

The renovations have added about 700 seats and an expanded picnic area to put Hadlock Field's capacity at just over 6,900. The latest project will add 390 more seats in a pub-style pavilion over the right-field bullpen.

"It's a nice problem to have [a high demand for tickets]," said Cameron. "We've had three expansions with another one in the wings -- this one will be a little tricky because it will be in right field."

Tricky indeed, as Hadlock has a very unique shape: a fish hook. Located directly in right is the Portland Exposition Building, which has caused the Sea Dogs to build the majority of the seats near third base, giving the park its unique shape.

Given the maritime history connected to Portland, Cameron says its only fitting that the team is called the Sea Dogs and the park they play in be shaped, even unintentionally, like a fish hook.

Hadlock Field's brick exterior allows it to blend perfectly into the context of downtown Portland. After parking and walking to the park, fans are greeted at the entrance by a huge statue of the Sea Dogs' mascot, Slugger.

Once inside, fans can check out pictures of other ballparks in the league as the concourse is lined with giant photographs of each one. The stairs leading up to the main seating bowl are strategically placed throughout the concourse, allowing a smooth flow of traffic throughout the game.

The aluminum seats may not be the most comfortable in the Minors, but fans love using them to make some noise for their favorite Sea Dogs. On the second level are Hadlock Field's 17 luxury sky boxes, each named after a legendary Red Sox great.

Concessions are numerous, ranging from the traditional ballpark frank to Hadlock Field's best-seller, the Sea Dog Biscuit: vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two giant chocolate chip cookies.

"There's always a line for the Sea Dog Biscuits -- every game, we're sold out," laughs Cameron. "Since we're near the water, there's a great fish sandwich that comes in second, though."

Aside from the Maine Monster in left, Hadlock Field's most unique feature is the lighthouse in Center Field. Each time a Sea Dog hits a home run or the Dogs win a game, the lighthouse rises up, complete with real fog and lights.

Fans hope to see the lighthouse a lot when they watch a league-leading six Sea Dogs during the All-Star Game. Two full days of celebrations will allow fans to get to know players from all around the Eastern League.

"There's been a buzz in the community ever since we announced Hadlock Field would be hosting the game," said Cameron. "Fans have been counting down to the festivities, and they're really excited about it."

A celebrity softball game to benefit local charities will take place on Tuesday, July 12, at Hadlock. League executives and players will be treated to a lobster bake aboard a cruise before the next day's game.

A baseball clinic set for the morning before the game will allow youngsters to mingle with players. Later, during the day, an All-Star Luncheon will precede an autograph session with fans.

As always, the Home Run Derby will lead things off before the Eastern League All-Stars take the field at Hadlock. "We're anticipating a great time," Cameron said. "The energy that the fans bring will be at a whole new level during the All-Star game -- it will be really special."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.