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Official Review by Daniel Zepeda, Stadium Journey Guest Correspondent
After 24 years of baseball at Abilene Christian University, the Wildcats chose to upgrade their field to better suit the dry and unpredictable West Texas weather. In its third year of Division I play, ACU converted its once natural grass field into artificial turf prior to the 2016 season and brought AstroTurf to Crutcher Scott Field for the first time in 25 years.
The Wildcats also upgraded several other facilities, such as their batting cages, dugouts and even added a home bullpen behind the right field wall. ACU brought in the wall all along the outfield and the new bullpen can be seen by fans through a coated chain link fence that will run the length of the bullpen, and a new pad will cover the rest of the new outfield.
Crutcher Scott Field seats 4,000 fans and spectators and with the renovations, has become one of the best baseball facilities in the state. Located on ACU’s campus, students can get in for free after only a five to ten minute walk from anywhere on campus.
When The Crutch officially opened in 1991, it marked the return of baseball to Abilene Christian after a 12 year hiatus. The Wildcats christened their new stadium with a 2-1 win in 10 innings in which students sat in the back of flatbed trucks in the outfield to watch. ACU added the Bonneau Family Indoor Hitting Facility to the complex, giving ACU an indoor facility to use on bad weather days.
With weather conditions ranging from 100 degree heat to wind and snow, along with random Texas thunderstorms to dry conditions, Abilene does not make the ideal home of an all-natural field. The move to turf allows the program to spend less time preparing their field and more time practicing and putting work in.
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".
It's a golden rule to always have hot dogs and peanuts at a baseball game. The Crutch allows for that and more. Hot dogs, peanuts, pretzels, candy, burgers and more can be found at the concession stand located near the main entrance gate. For drinks, soft drinks and bottled water are available. The prices won't kill you either, usually averaging around $5-$7 per person for a full meal, but the food quality isn't the best either. With quick service, lines are normally short which keeps fans in their seats where they really want to be.
A baseball game at ACU can be one of the most enjoyable things to do when in Abilene. With a solid following from students and the ACU community, seats are always available. Students also stay loud and proud with cheers and chants, allowing for few moments of quiet. It's a great place to bring kids and families for a great night out.
With that said, ACU baseball only averages around 200-250 fans per game. Even with the small stadium seating, the stadium still looks mostly empty for most games. When big programs come to play however, such as Texas Christian or Texas Tech, the fans come out in support. But in the dog days of Southland Conference play, it becomes a challenge to get anyone to show up.
With being on campus, safety is never an issue. There is limited parking in the immediate area, so finding a spot can become an issue. But, if you're willing to do a little walking, it's not a problem. Crutcher Scott Field is located on the north side of campus, near the softball and soccer fields and the soon-to-come on-campus football stadium.
The fans that show up are engaged and steadily cheer on their purple and white Wildcats. With the resurgence of the ACU student's section called Wildcat Reign, the students who come out often heckle opponents, but nothing along the lines of profanity or distasteful rhetoric. It is a Christian college after all.
With the stadium on campus, it's a wonder why ACU baseball doesn't have a steadier following for home games. The Crutch is only a few minutes walk from any location on campus and is free to all students who show a valid student university ID. The field is located off of Interstate 20 and one of the busiest roads in Abilene, North Judge Ely Boulevard. Parking can be problematic for highly-attended games, but normally isn't an issue.
For non-students, ticket prices are marked at $8 for adults and $4 for kids. Students get in for free with their university ID. So even if you're not a student, a family of four can spend $24 on tickets and then $20-$30 on food for everyone. That's less than $60 compared to perhaps hundreds you can spend at some stadiums.
The Crutch is one of the best stadiums when it comes to on-field facilities. If ACU could find a way to update some other parts of the stadium like seating and fan-interaction, they could have something special. Overall, catching a game at Crutcher Scott Field is usually a solid choice for baseball fans of all ages.
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