For the first time in its 25 year history, there will be no minor league baseball played at Dodd Stadium in Norwich this season. However, the seats will not be empty all summer long.
The Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce is finalizing plans to host the annual summer Rock the Docks concert series at the stadium. The concert is usually held at Howard T. Brown Memorial Park, but had to be moved this year due to COVID-19 safety restrictions.
“We had to figure out, what is the best way that we can control social distancing, maintain the crowds, and also make people feel safe in the community when they are going to events," said Angela Adams, executive director of the GNACC.
Thanks to about 10 local businesses sponsoring the event, Adams said that the GNACC is able to contract the stadium for four concerts this summer. The concerts will be free, kicking off on July 22, and will be held every Wednesday night for four consecutive weeks. A list of bands will be released once the schedule is finalized. The chamber is still seeking additional sponsors.
While the concerts are free, people are asked to register online to make sure the crowd does not exceed 500 people. The stadium seats about 6,200 people, making the 500-person limit well within state safety guidelines. The final schedule will be uploaded to the chamber's website as soon as it is finalized.
"I think it is the morale booster for our community right now. This is something that they truly look forward to," said Adams.
Dave Schermerhorn, general manager of the Norwich Sea Unicorns, said that his team is still ironing out the details, but they are planning on drawing up a seating chart to ensure distancing and will work on having ushers there to make sure people stay six feet apart. People are required to wear masks.
Concessions will also be up and running, which will help to bring back a small amount of the part-time workers who are now without a job for the summer.
Schermerhorn said that the Sea Unicorns are looking to host other events throughout the summer as well. While additional events are not finalized at this point, Schermerhorn said that he hopes the concert series helps to set the tone.
"It will be a night or an afternoon at the ballpark that will ultimately result in fun but, ultimately, being safe at the same time," said Schermerhorn.