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Official Review by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Fairfield University is a private, co-educational university located in the Connecticut city of the same name. Founded by the Society of Jesus in 1942, the school boasts an enrollment of 3,500 undergraduates. The Fairfield Stags are a charter member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and play their home games at the Alumni Baseball Diamond, an on-campus facility located on the northern edge of the campus. The Stags have played varsity baseball at Alumni Diamond since 1951. Fairfield student-athletes are among the most successful in the nation academically, according to the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate. Several Fairfield squads rank in the top ten percent in the nation annually.
In 1948 the nickname "Stags" was adopted by the University's Board of Trustees over Chanticleers (thank goodness!) in part because the school is part of the Diocese of Hartford, and the word "Hart" means a male of the European Red Deer (stag), and "ford" means a shallow place in a stream or river. Thus, the Fairfield University shield features a red deer leaping over a tumbling brook. Fairfield University is located on a wooded campus, and stags are known for their agility and leaping ability, as all athletes should be. See, it all fits together nicely!
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There are no concessions available at Alumni Diamond. Veteran Stag fans will bring their own refreshments to enjoy during the game.
Baseball at Alumni Diamond is a baseball purist's dream. There are no fancy bells and whistles present here, as the game day presentation is stripped all the way down to bare bones. The scoreboard displays only the line score, and routine ballpark staples such as between inning music and walk-up songs are nowhere to be found here. The only extraneous noise comes from periodic PA announcements from the "press box," which is in reality a folding table with a couple of student interns sitting on the first base line. This is not to say that you can hear crickets chirping here in Fairfield. The crowd, while small, is very enthusiastic throughout the game.
Fairfield University is a typical northeastern campus with lots of green space and a great college vibe. Leave campus and the immediate residential area that surrounds the campus, however, and you may find yourself navigating some of the most congested streets you will find outside of the nation's larger cities. This area of Connecticut is famous for its traffic jams and seemingly never ending construction zones. The upside to this congestion is that you won't have to travel too far to find a place to eat or sleep. Out of town fans won't find anything to do within walking distance, but Route 1, located a short drive away from the Fairfield campus, contains all the eateries and lodging locations a hungry and tired fan could hope for. Hidden within the multiple chain restaurants here are some gems for those fans willing to search for them.
Crowds at Alumni Diamond can be classified as "friends and family," as attendance generally ranges from 100-250 people. Fans pack the old wooden bleachers behind home plate and line up along the foul lines to take in the action. For a crowd of this size, the fans at Fairfield University are very involved in the game, making a lot of noise in support of the Stags.
The Fairfield University campus is located on a beautiful wooded campus in suburban Fairfield, in a region known as the "Gold Coast" of Connecticut. Easily reached from both Interstate 95 and the Merritt Parkway, fans driving to a Stags game will be pleased to find ample free parking within easy walking distance from the Alumni Baseball Diamond.
The primary method for arriving at the Fairfield University campus is by car. Out of town fans looking to avoid the legendary Connecticut traffic with alternative methods of transportation can take Amtrak's busy northeastern corridor trains to the Fairfield train station. From there, shuttle busses arrive regularly to transport students (and Stag baseball fans) to the campus 10 minutes away.
Fans visiting Fairfield University will probably not be staying in the area. The city of Bridgeport is literally right up the street from the campus, but can hardly be considered a destination city. New Haven is a half hour north on I-95, Hartford is an hour north on I-91, and New York is an hour south on I-95. All these cities are easily accessible by train as well.
Seating at Alumni Diamond consists of a set of rickety wooden bleachers behind home plate, with room for fans to spread out along the foul lines. There are no facilities at the ball field, but fans in need of rest rooms will find clean facilities at the neighboring Walsh Athletic Center.
There is no charge for attending baseball games at Fairfield University. Parking in the lot adjacent to Alumni Diamond is also free of charge. While the MAAC will not be confused with the power conferences in Division One, the level of play is good, and many players from this conference go on to professional careers. You simply can't beat the price.
There isn't a whole lot going on that can be considered "extra" at Alumni Diamond. But the beautiful Fairfield University campus, complete with tree-lined streets, interesting backdrops beyond the outfield fence, and the brand new Rafferty Stadium located beyond the right field foul line have to count for something.
Fans looking for lots of bells and whistles and the modern creature comforts present in many ballparks today will not find what they are looking for at Fairfield University. Taking in a game at Alumni Diamond may not be for the casual fan, but it is a baseball purist's dream, where the baseball takes center stage and there is nothing going on to distract one from enjoying the action down on the field. Better yet, you won't have to reach for your wallet even once during your visit to Alumni Diamond.
Follow all of Paul Baker's ballpark and stadium travels on Twitter @PuckmanRI.
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48 Sanford St.
Fairfield, CT 06824
815 Main St.
Bridgeport, CT 06604
750 Post Rd.
Fairfield, CT 06824
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