Beehive Field is located in Willow Brook Park on John Karbonic Way in New Britain, Connecticut.
The ballpark was constructed in 1982 by the City of New Britain in hopes of bringing a professional baseball franchise to the city. Joe Buzas, the legendary minor league baseball owner moved his team, the Bristol Red Sox, to New Britain in 1983.
Beehive Field’s name is a reference to the City of New Britain seal, which includes a depiction of bees swarming a beehive (thanks to alert reader Ed!). The city’s motto is “Industry fills the hive and enjoys the honey.”
Built on top of what once was a swamp, when it opened Beehive Field had one of the most expansive outfields in minor league baseball. The large outfield and thick air (because of the former swamp) tagged the ballpark as a pitcher’s park.
Although perhaps considered “modern” when it was built in the early 1980s because it was new, the simplicity of the design more resembled a 1930’s era ballpark.
The stadium seating is constructed of metal risers that wrap around from the infield, with no exterior wall to close in the structure.
From 1983 to 1994, it was the home of the Eastern League New Britain Red Sox.
One of the most distinctive features of Beehive Field is that it is located just a few hundred feet from New Britain Stadium, the ballpark that replaced Beehive Field in 1996 as the home of professional baseball in New Britain.
By the early 1990s, with the Boston Red Sox threatening to leave New Britain unless the city built the franchise a new ballpark, New Britain began construction of a new ballpark next to Beehive Field. The Red Sox affiliate departed after the 1994 season anyway.
In 1995, Buzas affiliated his New Britain team with the Minnesota Twins and the New Britain Rock Cats played their first season at Beehive Field (known then as the Hardware City Rock Cats).
Beehive Field remains at the site today. The left field bleachers of New Britain’s current ballpark provide an excellent panoramic view of Beehive Field.
Beehive Field is currently the home field of the New Britain High School Canes varsity baseball team.
Although the ballpark is in need of repair, it remains an important part of the New Britain community and, in 2015, additional funds were provided by the city to upgrade the facility to make it ADA compliant.
The New Britain Rock Cats currently are playing their 20th season at New Britain Stadium.
The team has taken the unusual approach of celebrating their 20th anniversary by making it their last season in New Britain Stadium.
Beginning in 2017, the Rock Cats will play their home games in Hartford, Connecticut, as the Hartford Yard Goats. Yes, the Yard Goats.
Hopefully professional baseball will continue to be played in New Britain Stadium, thereby allowing the high school to play its games at Beehive Field. The Atlantic League has expressed interest in placing a franchise in New Britain Stadium. Another option is the addition of a collegiate wooden bat league team at New Britain Stadium. Regardless, New Britain, beginning in 2016, will have the distinction of having two former professional, affiliated ballparks standing in tact, side by side – presumably a claim that no other city in the United States can make.