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Official Review by Jason Bullock, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Calvin Falwell Field is located in Lynchburg, VA and is home to the Lynchburg Hillcats, the Advanced A minor league affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. The Hillcats play in the Northern Division of the Carolina League.
Lynchburg City Stadium, as it was originally known, opened in 1940 and has been through many renovations through the years. The latest one was in 2004 and this final remodel brought the stadium up to modern standards with amenities such as skyboxes, a remodeled press box and picnic areas.
Lynchburg has been home to minor league baseball for over 50 years and has been a Class A affiliate for 8 major league teams. Many All-Stars and notables have played in Lynchburg, including Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Jose Bautista and Billy Beane, current GM of the Oakland A’s and subject of the movie Moneyball.
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".
You can get all of your basic food necessities at Falwell Field, but not much more. While the food is not overpriced for a baseball game, it is lacking in quality for the price I paid. Hot dogs ($3), hamburgers ($4.50), and chicken strips ($6.50) appeared to be the most popular. I tried the chicken sandwich ($5.50) and found it to be rather dry and tasteless. The turkey burger ($5.25) was better, but I most likely would not buy it again. You can make any sandwich a combo (fries and a 16 oz. drink) for $4.50 more, saving $1. Other side choices available include peanuts, soft pretzels, chips, nachos, onion rings and of course, Cracker Jacks!
Pepsi products are the soda of choice at Falwell Field and come in 2 sizes - 16 oz is $2.50, and a 32 oz. Souvenir Cup is $4. Bottled water and Gatorade are also available for $3.50.
If you're a beer drinker - they have great values for you! A 22 oz. draft is $5.50 and you can get a 64 oz. pitcher for $16. Not a great savings, however the refill for that pitcher is $11, so if you have a large group together getting that pitcher refill can save you quite a bit of money.
Thursdays are $1 draft night - 8 oz. cups, but still a bargain! Miller Lite, Bud/Bud Light and Yuengling were all available on tap. One note - you have to get a wristband at the booth in the concourse behind home plate to be able to purchase alcohol. Not a bad idea, as this saves time at the counter checking ID's.
There are some stand-alone vendors in the concourse selling Dippin' Dots, Domino's Pizza and Popcorn. There was a stand for funnel cake, cotton candy and sno-cones and I was ready to dig into something sweet later in the game - however it was closed after the 5th inning. Disappointing, but based on the crowd size that evening it was understandable. Ice cream bars and candy are also available at the concession stand if you are looking for something sweet to eat.
I was one of about 800 people in attendance for this game, but I guess that's what happens when you go to a game the day after a national holiday in the middle of a heat wave in a town where 10,000 people were still without power. With that said, I enjoyed my game day experience at the home of the Hillcats. Overall, the staff was great. From the concession stands to the ushers, all of the staff that I interacted with were friendly and appeared to enjoy their job.
For the kids, there is a speed pitch and a moon bounce on the 3rd base side of the stadium. I did note the mascot, Southpaw, making his way around the concourse a few times but other than that he wasn't very visible. The ushers were great with the kids, ensuring that loose foul balls that they picked up went to the young fans.
For the sections behind home plate, all seats are undercover and have chair backs. One of the sections is alcohol free, making for a more family friendly atmosphere. There are 2 picnic areas that can host group events and also 'Skybox' rentals for those that want a more upscale experience.
In-between inning activities were kept to a moderate level, and don't try to overpower the action on the field, which I greatly appreciated. The PA system at the stadium is clear and the volume level is just right. The left-field scoreboard gives you all the typical information along with season stats for the current batter. These are small details, but make a big difference to me in the stadium experience as a fan of the game.
There is not much to do in the immediate vicinity of the stadium except go to the game. The stadium is bordered by neighborhoods, a small industrial section and a cemetery. If you are looking for something quick, there is a Pizza Hut about a ˝ mile north of the ballpark. If you go further into Lynchburg, you will find numerous chain restaurants - Outback (1.5 miles) and Applebee's (2 miles) being two of the closest.
If you're visiting Lynchburg, there are many historical attractions to see that involved the Civil War and multiple parks and trails for lovers of the outdoors.
Again, there weren't too many fans at this game so it is hard to judge the fan base. The fans that did attend really got into the game as the home team built a big lead and stayed interested even as the Hillcats gave it all back. A majority of the 800 were still there to see the Hillcats come back from behind and win.
While the stadium is nestled in a mostly residential area, it is easily accessible and less than a mile off of the Lynchburg Expressway. Parking is free, however based on the size of the parking lot, it would be pretty crowded for a well-attended game. Restrooms are located on the 3rd base side of the stadium and are overall well kept. There is also a family restroom located in the concourse behind home plate.
Reserve tickets are $9 for adults, $7 for youths and seniors. General Admission will cost you $1 less for each - fans under 4 are free. Combine that with free parking and a family of 4 can get in the park for under $30! As I stated earlier, while not way out of line on price, the quality of the food compared to what I paid for it kept this category from being rated 5 stars.
The View - Having the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background behind the stadium was the perfect backdrop to a summer evening watching future major leaguers chase their dream.
The Team Shop - The team has a nice shop located in the concourse behind home plate where you can find tons of Hillcat merchandise. The store was well kept and has plenty of room to move around while you shop. You will also find the ATM inside the team store.
The Scoreboard in Right Field - I love statistics and at most minor league parks that I have been to, you don't get the current game stats for the players. At Falwell Field, there is an additional scoreboard that gives you that information and made a difference for me in the stadium experience.
The Picnic Tables - If you don't feel like taking your food back to your seat to eat, there are picnic tables that you can eat at while watching the game on both the 1st and 3rd base sides. These all have great sight lines. Be careful though - most are in prime foul ball territory and you still have to pay attention to what is going on in the field.
Calvin Falwell stadium is a solid investment for a night out with the family and/or friends. I enjoyed my experience at the stadium and will be sure to visit again next time I am in the area.
Member Review by puckmanri on Aug 24, 2013
This field is an entirely average facility, with ever-present bleacher seating and an overcrowded concourse trying to do too much. Staff here were very helpful and friendly, and the fans were more than eager to be helpful to an out-of-towner. If you are ever in Lynchburg, ask the staff there about the "stinky cat". You won't be disappointed.
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