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Official Review by Andy Mantsch, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
A charming ballpark in the shadow of the Ravenel Bridge connecting Charleston, SC with the Mount Pleasant area, CofC Baseball Stadium itself doesn’t really have to be anything special to impress. The 2,000-person capacity park couldn’t be in a more relaxing location. The park was built in 2001 across the Charleston harbor from the city of Charleston and the school’s main campus. In 2007 the park underwent a $3,000,000 renovation, resulting in its present-day state.
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 only concession stand can be located on the concourse behind home plate. Food options are about what you'd expect at a park this size. Nachos, hot dogs and barbecue sandwiches are your main course options at $4-$5, with peanuts, popcorn and candy available as snacks in the $2-$3 range. It wouldn't be South Carolina without boiled peanuts on the menu, and you can pick up a bag for $3. Sodas come in a 16-ounce or 20-ounce size for $2 or $3, so value is pretty solid. If you're feeling a little tired from the South Carolina sun, don't worry, because Red Bull or a cappuccino can also be purchased for $3 or less.
Let me be clear, the in-stadium atmosphere is average, at best. It's the surrounding area and scenery that give CofC Stadium a boost. You're surrounded by water on Patriot's Point, and the ocean air adds to the overall relaxing vacation-like feel of the park. Just driving up to the park enhances your overall experience.
Once in the park, you'll meander through the CofC athletic facilities, including a practice field and a soccer field to reach the park. In left field, the ivy-covered fence adds character to the park. There are comfortable covered seats behind home plate and bleachers on both the first base and third base lines. Down the first base line, there is also a pavilion with several picnic tables providing an excellent area to relax and take in a game. Good sight lines and comfortable seats with cup holders add to the overall serene scene that is CofC Stadium. The field itself is pretty plain outside of the left field wall, and there aren't a ton of stadium frills. Yet, based on the prime real estate of the park itself, it's really hard to rate the atmosphere as average.
There's really not a whole lot to rate negatively here. If you haven't been to Charleston, just ask anyone that has and they'll speak of the city with terms like "beautiful" and "favorite" that don't do justice to the area at all. The stadium is located just minutes from some of the most beautiful beaches in the southeast (Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms are just to the north) and one of the most beautiful cities in the country (historic Charleston is a short drive across the bridge to the south). The immediate area around the park doesn't lack for charm either. Patriot's Point offers stunning views of Charleston harbor and Fort Sumter. Just a block from the stadium is the aircraft carrier Yorktown and Fort Moultrie. From almost anywhere on the Point you can look up and see the stunning Ravenel Bridge putting its mark on the skyline.
Restaurants and hotels aren't in any shortage in the area. If you're looking to spend a little more for vacation, Market Street downtown or a rental on Isle of Palms offer all the southern charm of the city at your doorstep. If you're looking to focus on the game or are sticking to a budget, there are much more affordable hotels in Mount Pleasant near the foot of the bridge. One of my favorite local spots near Patriot's Point is Shem Creek. You'll find restaurants and bars on the creek where you can sit outside and watch the boats come and go. Vickery's or Red's are both ideal locations for this.
This category falls squarely on an average rating. There's a fair share of passionate alum at the park on any given day to cheer on their Cougars. They seem to know the players and know the game pretty well. They can be vocal, but not in unison, as there's just not enough to bring "noise" to the game. Students have a light showing at the park, likely explained by the fact that the stadium is off-campus. CofC is actually located across the bridge and downtown.
You won't mind the drive to CofC Stadium no matter where you're coming from. Coming from the west or south, you'll get to follow 17 across the Ravenel Bridge, which affords you some stunning views of the area. Coming from the north down 17, you'll be hugging the coast and passing islands and beaches the whole way down. Once you turn onto Patriot's Point, you'll pass the park on your left and turn into the athletic facilities complex to park. Parking is free, but the lot isn't large. There is some grass parking along the main road, but there's a decent walk from those spots. Once you pay for your ticket, there's a short walk through the complex to the stadium. The concourse is wide and it's easy to walk from end to end of the park with views of the field. Restrooms are located near concessions behind home plate. You've probably been to nicer restrooms, but for the size of the crowd, they are sufficient.
Nothing here is expensive, but nothing about the stadium itself is particularly standout (other than the surrounding area). You'll be satisfied to dish out $7 for a ticket and no more than $5 for food to put your feet up and enjoy the ocean air while you take in a Cougars game. But because the in-stadium experience itself won't be particularly special, the rating here again falls about average.
Points here unarguably are assigned for location. As much as I'd normally consider taking points for an off-campus venue, you couldn't pick a better location for the stadium. The ability to make a trip to a Cougars game or weekend series into an ideal vacation is what bumps the grade to a 3 in this category. Outside of that, there aren't a whole lot of extras to speak of that are above and beyond the expected experience.
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