Friday, November 11, 2011

SEC Dixie-nary: B is for Ballparks

B is for Ballparks

There's been much said that Mizzou's Taylor Stadium won't compare well to the other SEC ballparks.  While there are some huge and impressive baseball stadiums in the SEC, don't be fooled into thinking that playing in the SEC is like playing at Yankee Stadium every weekend.

East Division

Florida Gators: McKethan Stadium
  • Opened 1988
  • Capacity 5,500
  • In addition to the entertaining brand of college baseball, fans enjoy spacious seating close to the field in the beautiful Florida sun. They are treated to theatre-like field-level seating, quality conĂ‚­cession areas, an outstanding scoreboard featuring up-to-date player statistics, clean restrooms and abundant parking, along with a first-class press box for media covering the Gator program.

    Always looking to improve its facilities, McKethan Stadium underwent a $350,000 plaza development project in 1996 that produced a new main entrance and created a plaza/courtyard atmosphere for fans surrounding the main grandstand. Construction over the previous summer had added 1,000 seats to the main grandstand to replace seating lost through prior construction and press box expansion. (

Georgia Bulldogs: Foley Field
  • Opened: 1996
  • Capacity: 3,291
  • Video tour of Foley Field
  • The stadium's capacity of 3,291 includes all chairback seating. From 1990-2010, the seating area was a mix of chairback and bleachers, however new green chairbacks were installed throughout the stadium for the 2011 season.

    The grandstand area is covered by a partial roof with both concession stands and rest rooms located in the stadium. A new playing surface and drainage system was installed in the summer of 2003. There are indoor and outdoor bullpens and indoor hitting cages. The lower portion of the stadium includes a spacious locker room, players lounge, a coaches office, an equipment room plus exercise and athletic training facilities.

Kentucky Wildcats: Cliff Hagan Stadium
  • Opened: 1969
  • Remodeled: 2002
  • Capacity: 3000
  • The renovations in 2002 were divided into three categories. The stadium now has 2,000 chair-back seats and a state-of-the-art press box. Featuring radio and television broadcast booths, the new media facility is among the best in the SEC, complete with elevators and restrooms for working press and game management personnel. Able to accommodate a capacity crowd of 3,000, Cliff Hagan Stadium also has two luxury skyboxes that are available for private parties.

    Phase two added the construction of traditional, old-style brick walls, reminiscent of classic American ball parks. Extending down both the left and right field lines, the walls meet a freshly painted hunter green outfield fence that replaced the older blue fence. Updated logos and advertisements were also placed on the structure that continues its 340-365-390-350-310 dimensions. (

South Carolina Gamecocks:  Carolina Stadium 
  • Opened: 2009
  • Capacity:  8,242 (6,600 seated)
  • Among the numerous amenities for fans, there are five luxury suites and two club-level seating areas with lounges, a Gamecock store just inside the main entrance in the outfield plaza, along with a picnic terrace that accommodates around 120 people down the left-field line. The scoreboard towers 86 feet (26 m) over the left field wall and features a 28-by-16 foot video screen.
Tennessee Volunteers:  Lindsey Nelson Stadium
  • Opened: 1993
  • Remodeled: 2009-10
  • Capacity: 3,712
  • Phase I was completed in time for the 2009 baseball season. This phase included $400,000 improvements to the field and expanded seating down the first base line.

    A new team locker room, club area, weight room, and training room were also constructed to enhance the facilities used by players to prepare for games. Phase I also included new coach and administrative offices and a plaza above the right field line seating to provide an easy gathering space for fans and additional concessions and restrooms.

    Phase II renovations were completed for the 2010 season. This phase included the construction of 370 MVP Field Level seats, which are designed to bring fans closer to the game than ever before while also providing a meaningful contribution to the Campaign for Tennessee Baseball.

    Located directly behind home plate, these seats feature chairback seating with cup holders and access to an interior club room where fans can enjoy refreshments prior to and during the game. New batting cages will be constructed along the right field line with a playground above the cages for children to enjoy during the game. This phase also includes improvements to the visiting team locker room and a brick facade on the field interior. (

Vanderbilt Commodores: Hawkins Field
  • Opened: 2002
  • Renovated: 06,07,09
  • Capacity: 3,700
  • Hawkins Field serves as the home of the Vanderbilt Commodores and with recently completed facilities it stands as one of the top college baseball parks in the country. Now in its ninth season of existence, Hawkins Field greets all fans with chairback seats close to the field of play, a 35-foot wall in left field that promises unique opportunities for excitement and a first-rate field that prevents bad hops and promotes dazzling defensive gems from the infielders and outfielders alike.

    With a brick and rod-iron fence design, Hawkins Field features a classic baseball park atmosphere coupled with a modern design that includes more than 2,400 chairback seats and a state-of-the-art press box. (

West Division

Alabama Crimson Tide:  Sewell-Thomas Stadium
  • Opened: 1948
  • Renovated: 1996, 2001
  • Capacity: 6,571
  • The stadium is commonly referred to as "The Joe".

    Currently referred to by many as "The Joe", Sewell-Thomas Stadium has been the home of Alabama's baseball team for 62 years, but has undergone many changes. The complex has undergone two major renovations in 1996 and again in 2001. A video board was added in 2007.

    The most recent additions came during the 2010 season as the Crimson Tide clubhouse, meetings rooms, coaches locker rooms and team room were completely renovated, giving Alabama one of the finest clubhouses in college baseball. In addition to the expanded clubhouse, meeting rooms and team rooms, the hallways and walls are lined with murals, depicting the deep history of Crimson Tide baseball.(

Auburn Tigers: Samford Stadium – Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park
  • Opened: 1950
  • Renovated: 1006, 2002
  • Capacity: 4,096
  • The park's signature is its 37-foot (11 m) high left field fence, which is 315 feet (96 m) from home plate. The home team bullpen is located behind the left field fence, forcing media in the press box to use monitors to determine who is warming up.

    Plainsman Park was first used as a baseball facility in 1950. In 1996, Auburn significantly renovated Plainsman Park, drawing inspiration from ballparks such as Camden Yards in their design for the park. In 1997, it was renamed Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park in honor of brothers Jimmy and Billy Hitchcock. In 2003, the facility was renamed Samford Stadium – Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park in honor of longtime trustee Jimmy Samford.

Arkansas Razorbacks: Baum Stadium at George Cole Field
  • Opened: 1996
  • Renovated: 03,04,06,07
  • Capacity: 10,737
  • Additional chairback seats were added for the 2003 season and the 2004 season saw 12 new luxury boxes and permanent coaches' offices added to the upper level. Two of the new luxury boxes and coaches' offices were made possible by contributions from the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, Bob and Marilyn Bogle, the Pagnozzi Charities, John Tyson and Stan Ley.

    Adding to the character of the park, a new state-of-the-art scoreboard complete with video board, message center and a traditional hand clock was built in right field. The scoreboard stands 39 feet high and is 76 feet wide and features four classic brick pillars.

    Perhaps the most treasured addition to the 2004 renovations was the addition of a natural grass field. A rye grass was initially used for the 2004 season, but was replaced by a hybrid bermuda grass in 2005.

    Baum Stadium underwent renovations prior to the 2003 season as 2,600 chairback seats were added with 1,300 going down each foul line. In addition, the hitting and pitching cages were enclosed so Razorback players would have access to the facility year-round.

    Perhaps the only thing that makes as big an impression on first-time visitors as the facility itself is the game day atmosphere within it. Between innings, fans are treated to the RBI Girls' performances atop the dugouts, interactive contests and prizes from UA baseball sponsors.

    Fans can also enjoy a cookout at one of the many permanent barbeque grills provided in the picnic area beyond the left field fence in the Hog Pen. (

LSU Tigers: Alex Box Stadium
  • Opened: 2009
  • Capacity: 10,326
  • Video: Behind the scenes at Alex Box Stadium
  • The Alex Box Stadium experience is a unique one, created by the greatest and most loyal fans in all of college baseball, combined with an enduring legacy of championships.

    In February 2009, the LSU Baseball program moved into a new home, and all of the traditions, memories and excitement that make Tiger baseball truly special live on in the New Alex Box Stadium.

    Now the LSU baseball legacy has moved 200 yards to the south into a state-of-the-art facility, designed to provide the resources necessary to sustain LSU's tradition of excellence while also accommodating in comfort the record-setting crowds that set Tiger Baseball apart from the rest of America

    In the New Box, the Tiger baseball team enjoys 6,000 additional square-feet of locker and meeting room space, new batting cages and all the amenities necessary to field a consistent winner. (
LSU's Alex Box Stadium
Mississippi Rebels:  Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field
  • Opened: 1948
  • Renovation: 03,09
  • Capacity: 8,500 (6,100 seats)
  • Right Field Terrace: The hill beyond the right field wall was equipped with a seating area in 1993 that sits comfortably between the field and eight tennis courts. This has historically been a section for students. Since the 2000 season the area has undergone many improvements. What began as a gathering place for about one hundred students has grown into an area of about 1,000 students per game during conference season, and on big weekends between 3,000 and 4,000 students. Students routinely show up 2 or 3 hours before game time to wait on the first pitch. In the past few years, the students have started making t-shirts including ones that say: "Ole Miss - The best collegiate baseball atmosphere in America." Because of this atmosphere news crews from different college sports channels routinely show up to the right field student section.

    Left Field Terrace: For many years there was nothing but trees and a parking lot beyond the left field wall. In 2006, the left field area, known as Oakes Pavilion, was renovated with a new scoreboard equipped with a large video board and the seating areas were upgraded with grills, picnic tables, and a play area for children. The left field area can hold around 2,500 fans and has become one of the more popular areas of the field. It's mainly reserved for the families and non-students. (wikipedia)

Mississippi State: Dudy Noble Field/Polk-Dement Stadium
  • Opened: 1967
  • Capacity: 15,000 (7,200 seats)
  • The aura of Mississippi State baseball at Dudy Noble Field is certainly not confined to the loyal legions in the impressive grandstand, pro-style luxury sky suites and bleachers.

    In fact, some of the more highly-prized seats at Bulldog Baseball games are found beyond the outfield fence in the "Left Field Lounge". Waiting lists greet those seeking to purchase one of nearly 75 renewable season parking passes for an assigned position in one of three rows beyond the outfield fence. There, a colorful assortment of pickup trucks, motor homes, and trailers - most equipped with barbecue grills - line the outfield fence, completing a circle of humanity at Dudy Noble Field.

    What began in the late 1960s as a popular gathering spot for baseball-loving MSU students now forms college baseball's largest tailgate party. A 10-foot wide boardwalk has since been added to the area between the outfield fence and the first row of outfield terrace parking
Texas AM Aggies: Olsen Field
  • Opened: 1978
  • Renovated: 2011-12
  • Capacity: 7,053
  • The dimensions of the field are 330 feet down the foul lines, 375 to the power alleys and 400 feet to centerfield. The wooden fences around the outfield measure eight feet in height with the exception of centerfield, where the height is 20 feet. Beneath the grandstands are dressing facilities for both teams, a separate dressing room for the umpires, a modern training room and a groundskeeper's storage room.

    A new indoor hitting facility was built down the left-field line that features batting cages and bullpens for the Aggie baseball and softball teams to workout in inclement weather.

    A new state-of-the-art scoreboard, featuring a LED video board was unveiled in 2000. The scoreboard was the first on-campus, college-baseball scoreboard of its type in the United States.

    To make attending games more convenient for the fans, a trailer park with water, electricity hookups and a dump station has been built. There are 40 hookups for recreational vehicles. The park complex was dedicated on October 3, 1982. The park honors Mr. Olsen's wife, Elsie Duncan Olsen.

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