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Official Review by Paul Donaldson, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Attending a Northwestern State baseball game in Brown-Stroud Stadium affords baseball purists an opportunity to take in a traditional baseball atmosphere in a historic ballpark hosted in one of Louisiana’s most charming cities, Natchitoches.
Located on the campus of the Northwestern State University, Brown-Stroud Stadium (nicknamed the “BStro”) has served as home to Demon baseball since 1939 and features a seating capacity of 1,200. Highlights of the stadium experience include grassy berm seating, shaded grandstand seating under an overhead awning, and a competitive Southland Conference baseball on-field product.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The concessions experience at Brown-Stroud Stadium covers the basics and provides the expected ballpark staples for an affordable price. There is a single concession stand located on the hill behind the press box and main grandstand.
Quality and Variety of Food Options. The concessions at the BStro offers up ballpark favorite entrees including hot dogs ($2), nachos ($3), and Frito pie ($3). Snacks include sunflower seeds ($1), peanuts ($2), and cracker jacks ($2), among other items. While there isn't a popcorn machine, you can get a full bag of popcorn for $2 if you've got 3 minutes to spare for it to be popped in the microwave.
The BStro features specials on various game days where you can get an off-menu item such as the Southern Slaw Dog (premium hot dog covered in coleslaw). While these specials help improve the concessions experience, it would be nice to see a BBQ pit fired up and serving some freshly grilled items like sausages and hamburgers. This could probably be done without much of a financial investment.
Variety of Drink Options. The BStro concessions serve bottled Coca-Cola products. Soft drinks and water are just $1.50 and Powerade is $2.50. Coffee and hot chocolate are available for cold weather games.
Recommendation. When there's a game day special at the concessions stand, it might be worth checking out. Otherwise, I recommend a tray of nachos and a pack of sunflower seeds to hold you over until you get to one of the restaurants mentioned in the neighborhood section below.
Brown-Stroud Stadium provides an historic home for Northwestern State baseball in a traditional baseball atmosphere. If you love minor league antics, the BStro isn't for you. If you are a college baseball purist that loves older venues, the Demon baseball atmosphere will be the perfect fit.
Stadium Aesthetics. The BStro might not come with the bells and whistles of many newly constructed stadiums, but it does provide a traditional baseball setting with the major benefit of covered seating (which comes in handy on hot Louisiana days). Having served as home to Demon baseball for over 60 years, the ballpark honestly has aged well considering the many years of usage.
There is a single grandstand which consists of both bleacher and chairback seating. There are two rows of chairback seating located just behind the backstop. The remaining seating under the awning is bleacher style. Grassy berm seating is available down both the first and third baselines. Be sure to throw a blanket at the top of the berm so the dugouts don't block your view of the field.
The playing surface provides a synthetic turf infield combined with a natural grass outfield. The scoreboard is located beyond the right field wall and features a small video panel that is utilized to display the name and number of the player at-bat.
While the awning providing shade to the grandstand is certainly a plus, there are many additional features which could be added in to improve the overall experience.
In-Game Promotions and Entertainment. In keeping with the traditional baseball atmosphere, there's not much going on at the BStro outside of the on-field action. At the conclusion of the game, fans are allowed to run the bases (young and old). The music selection between innings ranges from country to oldies and sports stadium classics. The Northwestern State mascot, Vic the Demon, is typically not in attendance at baseball games nor any other student spirit groups.
Seat Location Recommendations. It's hard to beat shaded seating behind home plate, especially when general admission is only $8. If you prefer to soak in the sun, throw a blanket or bring a tailgate chair to the top of the grassy berm seating down third baseline.
Brown-Stroud Stadium is located on the campus of Northwestern State University in charming Natchitoches, Louisiana. While there isn't an endless supply of attractions in the immediate area, you'll fall in love with Louisiana's oldest city and Bread & Breakfast Capital.
Where to Eat. The unique regional dish of Natchitoches is the meat pie. While in town, you definitely have to try one. Your best bet for a great meat pie is Lasyone's (622 2nd). However, like many things in Natchitoches, Lasyone's has limited operating hours and is closed on Sunday, so be sure to plan ahead. The Pioneer Pub (812 Washington St) is a nice place to grab a local brew and pub fare. Try a glass of the Shreveport-based Great Raft while you're there. And then there's the unique pairing of Mama's and Papa's. The two restaurants are located next to each other on Front Street but have two separate menus and atmospheres. Check-out Mama's for some good fried seafood. The French Market Express (5109 University) is a gas station and food market located on the route out of town that's a nice last stop for meat pies as before you make the trek home.
Attractions & Entertainment. I'm not usually one to talk about the beauty of a place, especially in a sports review, but the historic downtown area in Natchitoches is truly beautiful. Bring a blanket to picnic in the grassy area between Front Street and the Cane River. Take a stroll along the bricked walkway on Front Street which is lined with pots of tulips and assorted flowers, as well as ironed chair seating. If you are looking for a place to kick back and relax, Natchitoches is it. You can also enjoy your stay by taking a tour of one of the many historic plantation homes in the area. Other attractions in the area include the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (500 Front) and the Bayou Pierre Alligator Park (380 Old Bayou Pierre).
Where to Stay. Known as the Bed and Breakfast Capital of Louisiana, skip the traditional hotel experience and book a stay at the Steel Magnolia House Bed and Breakfast (320 Jefferson). This is the actual location where the famous Steel Magnolia's movie was filmed. For a stay in the downtown strip, book a room in the historic Church Street Inn (120 Church St). Also, check-out the Best Western Natchitoches Inn on University near I-49.
Demon baseball fans range from long-time supporters to families and friends of the ballplayers. Typical crowds are small and loyal. The overall Demon baseball experience at the BStro could certainly use a shot of energy from larger and more active crowds.
Typical Attendance. Expect an average crowd of about 250 - 400 for the usual Southland Conference weekend series. While the Demons still regularly feature competitive teams, some luster has certainly worn off since the championship years of the 90's and early 2000's.
Crowd Noise & Engagement. The regulars are engaged during the game and knowledgeable about the sport of baseball. Don't expect much in terms of crowd noise or excitement. Outside of big plays and closing out the game in the ninth inning, the noise level is fairly low throughout the game.
Traditions and Chants. Despite being in a historic city and ballpark, there's not much in regards to fan traditions or chants. The fight song is played after the Demons score a run and the fans typically clap along.
One of the highlights of the Bstro experience is access to and from the stadium as well as inside the ballpark.
Transit to and from Stadium. Located a few miles off I-49, you'll quickly make your way to the Northwestern State University campus via University Parkway (unless you're heading in from the east). There isn't a specific address listed for Brown-Stroud Field, so you'll want to aim to get behind the east side of Turpin Stadium (home to Demon football). From University Parkway, take Central Avenue onto the Northwestern State campus. Veer to the left to cross over Sam Sibley Drive and follow until you reach Prudhomme Hall and the Turpin / Brown-Stroud Stadium area.
Parking. Parking is free around the stadium. Though there isn't an obviously dedicated lot for baseball parking, you'll notice a couple of spots you can park in nearby. There is a small lot between the east side of Turpin Stadium and Prudhomme Hall that's a short walk down to the ballpark. A little further down, there's also parking down the road to the right leading to the fieldhouse.
Ticketing & Gate Entry. From Central Avenue, there is a main entrance and ticket booth located on the exterior of the ballpark. Look for a pair of bricked columns with a black iron cast sign overhead featuring the Northwestern State logo in the center. You shouldn't run into any lines here and the stadium staff are both friendly and helpful on your way in.
Moving around the stadium. There is plenty of room to get around the BStro. Walkways and aisles are wide. The main issue you'll notice, however, is the extremely small restrooms. Both men's and women's restrooms can only fit two people max, which can certainly be an inconvenience between innings.
The cost of attending a Northwestern State baseball at Brown-Stroud Stadium is very affordable and similar to what you'll find at other Southland Conference venues. Tickets start as low as $8 for general admission. Chairbacks are available for $10. Knowing that you won't have to pay for parking and that concessions will be reasonably priced is a plus as well.
Northwestern State offers several ticket packages that can help make the experience even more affordable with Family Saturdays which provides 4 tickets, hot dogs and drinks for $26 and Vic's Kids' Club Sundays where children 12 and under can get in for $4 (a $2 discount).
While the price is right, there are several upgrades needed to make the overall game day experience worth the investment.
Each venue typically has a few "extras" which contribute to the overall game day experience. One such extra at Brown-Stroud Stadium is memorializing past accomplishments by listing conference championships and regional tournament appearances along the outfield wall. The Demons enjoyed a decade of impressive success through the 90's and early 2000's which is featured in the stadium.
Another unique feature for the BStro is the grassy berm seating on both the first and third baselines. Whether you throw out a blanket and enjoying some family time or soak up the sun, the berm seating is definitely a plus.
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