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Official Review by Joseph Oakes, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Christopher Newport University is a public liberal arts university located in Newport News, VA on the banks of the James River, and has an enrollment nearing 5,000. CNU baseball competes in the Division III Capital Athletic Conference. With free admission and all seating either chair back or bench back, attending a game at Captains Park is a must for all college baseball enthusiasts and a great place for family to spend a weekend afternoon watching college baseball.
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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".
There is one small concession stand at Captains Park, and it is located on the third base side of the press box facility. Unfortunately, there is not much selection. Bottled water and Pepsi products are available for $2.50. The only foods to choose from are bagged chips, peanuts, and candy, which range in price from $2-$3. Only cash is accepted at the concession stand. While there is little food selection at Captains Park, fans are allowed to bring their own food and drinks into Captains Park.
Captains Park is an impressive ballpark, and definitely a more than adequate facility for a Division III program. As one enters Captains Park, from either the right or the left field corner, one might think they are entering a mini Davenport Field. Fans can enter Captains Park from either side on a concrete sidewalk above a grassy berm than runs above the dugouts and along each baseline.
There are three seating sections behind home plate: a section of chair back seats directly behind home plate and a section of bench back seats on either side. Each section is ten rows high. The aforementioned sidewalk concourse runs above the seating area. There is a brick façade that serves as the backstop behind home plate. The dimensions of Captains Park are 335 feet to right and left field and 400 feet to straightaway center. The outfield wall features banners with postseason tournament trips and retired jersey numbers. There is a standard scoreboard in right field that features balls, strikes, outs, and the line score. Music is played between innings, but it is not excessive.
Even though there are three seating options (chair back seats, bench back seats, and the grassy berms), fans can sit anywhere they choose, as there are no tickets and no admission is charged. This is nice, as it enables fans to move around and watch the game from different parts of the park.
Captains Park is located on the campus of Christopher Newport University, among several other sports athletic facilities, including the softball field and football stadium. Since it is located on campus, there are few places to eat within the immediate area. However, the campus is only located three miles from the popular Oyster Point section of Newport News, which features several restaurants, bars, hotels, and shops. Restaurants include P.F. Chang's, Mellow Mushroom, and other similar chain and local restaurants. The Marriott at City Center in Oyster Point would be an excellent choice if staying overnight.
An excellent attraction if visiting Captains Park would be the Mariners' Museum and Park located right next to the Christopher Newport Campus. The USS Monitor, a Civil War ironclad, is on display at the Mariners' Museum. The Ferguson Center for the Arts is located on Christopher Newport's campus, and is a premiere venue for musical, ballet, and theatrical productions.
The majority of fans at a Christopher Newport baseball game are players' families and students. However, nearly all of the fans are decked out in CNU gear and are very much into the game.
Captains Park does not have lights; therefore, all games are played during the day. This undoubtedly has a negative effect on attendance, especially games during the week. For a weekday game, one might expect a couple hundred fans in attendance, but for weekend games, 500-600 fans is the norm.
If you are attending a game at Captains Park for the first time, finding the ballpark will be difficult. However, if you follow the signs for Pomoco Stadium (the school's football stadium), you will find yourself across the street from Captains Park. There are two parking lots next to Captains Park, but those lots require a university parking pass and are therefore unavailable on weekdays. However, free parking is available in a grass field next to the softball field right across the street from Captains Park.
Since there is no cost to attend a game at Captains Park, tickets are not required. One can enter the ballpark from sidewalks in either the right or left field corners near the outfield wall.
Movement around the ballpark is a breeze via the sidewalks that run around the top of the seating areas. Restrooms are located in the back of the press box facility. The sidewalks that run around the park make the entire ballpark very handicapped accessible.
Free tickets, free parking, and a free game program make Captains Park an excellent choice to see quality Division III college baseball.
Many fans bring their dogs to Captains Park, and the large grass berms down both baselines allow plenty room for fans with dogs to roam around. These grass berms also allow families to spread out on a blanket and enjoy a picnic while watching the game.
For a look into the game day experience at Captains Park, take a glance at this video.
Follow Joseph Oakes' stadium journeys on Twitter @_jcoakes.
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