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Official Review by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Marshall baseball actually calls three separate stadiums home – most conference games are played at Appalachian Power Park, a minor league stadium in Charleston, West Virginia that is home to the West Virginia Power. However, due to occasional conflicts and because they do have some fan presence further south, each year one or two series are played at Linda K. Epling Stadium in Beckley, WV, a 2,500-seat venue that is also home to the West Virginia Miners, a collegiate summer baseball team.
The third location the team frequents is a local YMCA field back in Huntington, West Virginia, near where the main campus is actually located – this locale is used mostly for non-conference games.
Since more games are played at APP than the other two venues, Appalachian Power Park is the subject of this review – this is also the largest and “best” of the three stadiums in terms of facilities, including brand-new turf and other amenities at APP.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The concessions are more limited during Marshall games than when the Power plays at APP, but there is still a fairly good selection. Hot dogs are $3, pizza is $4, and burgers are $5 (add $1 for cheese). Pretzels, nachos, peanuts, popcorn, and Cracker Jack are all $4, which is about average compared to other venues. Coffee and hot chocolate are $2, soda starts at $3, water and Gatorade are $4, and beer is $6 - you can choose Yuengling, Budweiser, Bud Light, or Michelob Ultra.
The atmosphere at APP for Marshall baseball depends on whether or not there is a doubleheader with the West Virginia Power that day. On those days, you will have to pay for tickets and parking, but there is a larger crowd and more concession stands are open. There will also be more energy and excitement in the air due to the larger crowd, but there will also be security on hand, so you can't wander as much.
Conversely, on days when there isn't a doubleheader, there might only be one or two hundred on hand, if that, but you can get in for free and not pay for parking. You can also wander around wherever you please, since they don't bother to have any security on those days because the crowd is so small - it all depends on what type of experience you prefer.
If you happen to be the wandering type (like me), there are plenty of different seating options, almost all of which have chair backs. There are also plenty of tables so you can watch while you eat, and even a bouncy house set up for the kids - see the Extras section for more details and to watch a video about the different options.
As is typical for larger cities, Charleston is loaded with restaurants, bars, and tourist attractions, along with myriad hotels if you are staying for the weekend. About 10-12 blocks from APP you will find Pies & Pints Pizzeria, with craft beers starting at $5 and serving a wide variety of fabulous house pizzas. You will also find Charleston Brewing Company, which offers small-batch beers and is connected to a small restaurant that sells really good burritos. Further out at Town Center Mall there is an Outback Steakhouse if you prefer something more traditional, or you can visit Tidewater Grill, a seafood and raw bar.
If you are looking for something to do before or after you dine, about 3-4 blocks from the baseball field is Avampato Discovery Museum, with programs and exhibits geared towards kids. There is also the Charleston historic district a little further away, as well as the state capitol with its impressive gold dome.
While there aren't very many fans present, almost all of them wear Marshall gear, and they really get into the game, yelling at the umpire for his frequent (at least in their eyes) horrible calls. They also faithfully cheer their team, and boo the "bad guys" at the appropriate times.
APP is easy to get to, only a mile or two off I-64 in Charleston. There is plenty of parking right across the street from the field, which is only $3 when attendants are present - there is a parking deck, as well as several surface lots. The surface lots are more than sufficient for a typical Marshall crowd. I never recommend parking decks, since there is sometimes a line to get out.
There are plenty of bathrooms inside the stadium, more than enough for the typical Marshall crowd; one set on each baseline, and these are commercial-size with many stalls and stations, not the typical small ones with only one or two stalls.
Tickets for Marshall baseball at APP cost $7, or $5 in groups of eight or more. However, on most days they don't even check, so you can probably get in for free - depending on how many tickets are sold beforehand, the administration sometimes decides not to bother having security show up. If you want to try and get in for free, make sure to pick a non-Power doubleheader day (see the Atmosphere section for more details on this). Even at $7, though, it is probably worthwhile, even better at $5. As for parking, when it isn't free it is only $3, and concession prices are about average. Marshall gear is also available, starting at around $10 or $12 for a hat or shirt, and a little more for sweatshirts and other items, although you can get visors for as little as $5. So all in all, this is a pretty good value for the experience.
One point for the multiple seating options, including plastic seats with metal armrests and cup holders, picnic tables at multiple levels (top of the concourse, field level, etc.), handicap seating at the top of the concourse, high-top tables with umbrellas, the two-level Bud Light party deck with metal chairs, plastic bucket-style seats on the far side facing the press box, metal bleachers with chair back rails, even seating up in the boxes you can sneak into. See them all here in living color:
Another point for the lack of security on certain days that allows you to get in for free and wander all over the stadium as you please.
A third point for the size and enclosure of the facility that helps fans capture errant balls - allow me to explain. One of the most enjoyable activities at a baseball game is the opportunity to chase down foul balls and home runs. At many stadiums, the size and layout is such that these balls are literally hit out of the park, making it difficult to hunt them down in grassy or off-limits areas. Not so at APP, where the set-up causes foul balls to mostly land on the concourse behind the press box, and home runs to mostly land on the cement walkway behind the outfield, so kids and others can easily locate them.
A fairly new stadium with great seating options and decent prices, the venue is well worth a visit either for a Power game or a Thundering Herd event. Located in downtown Charleston, it is easy to find with plenty of restaurants and other attractions nearby, so this is an easy choice for a weekend visit if you want to take in the whole series, or just for a day trip.
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222 Capitol St
Charleston, WV 25301
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