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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
While Warner University is known as a college with baseball history, their softball team is quietly becoming an NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) powerhouse. Routinely ranked among the best NAIA programs, the team now has a stadium to equal its rising status. This small softball field holds a modest crowd for lower-tier college softball, but its covered seating offers comfort few Florida sports stadiums do -- shade.
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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 nothing special about the concessions here. Two athletics employees man a fold-out table at Warner softball games. Hot dogs, Gatorade, and sodas are $2, while water, candy, and chips are $1. That is the full extent of Warner's menu.
The stadium itself is newly constructed, with batting cages down the two field lines and a small press box behind home plate. The seating is standard bleacher seating with no backs, but with one advantage; a tarp roof. The heat of the sun can be brutal in Florida, so fans relish in the opportunity to catch college softball under the shade of a cloth tarp over the main grandstand seating behind home plate.
Lake Wales is quite literally halfway between a metropolis and nothing. An hour to the north is Orlando and I-4. To the south, Sebring is the next largest town until you reach South Florida, a good four hours away. Nearby attractions include the stunning Bok Tower Gardens and Legoland (formerly Cypress Gardens). For the sports fans, South Florida State College and Sebring International Raceway are a short drive away in Sebring. For lodging, your best bet is either Sebring to the south, Lake Wales itself, or Eagle Ridge to the north. There is also a mall at Eagle Ridge, and places to eat in Sebring.
The fans are passionate and faithful to their Lady Royals. Fans are likely to pack in every available seat in the grandstands, so large groups tend to bring out the pop-up canopies for games and set them up along the left and right field lines. There are also those faithful fans who back up their pickups with tailgates lowered to the outfield fences, making for makeshift patio seating at Daly Field. Undoubtedly, this is the place to be for games at Daly Field, as it gives you a view few other stadiums offer.
Getting to Warner University is a bit of a drive from either direction. Located on US-27, the college is small and hard to find, unless you're looking for it. Once you're on campus, you take an immediate left before getting to the main campus buildings. There, you will find Daly Field in the middle of an unpaved road. Parking is always free.
Tickets are $5 for Royal games, and parking is free, so considering that you can easily get some snacks for under $5, you are coming away with one of the lowest-priced sports options around. This only helps make the experience at a Warner University softball game even that much more enjoyable.
The fans in the outfield make for a pretty unique sight as they pull their pickups back against the outfield fence. Anyone can do this, making for a pretty neat way to catch home run balls.
The game day experience at Daly Field is representative of Warner University itself. The facility is small and quaint, but the atmosphere inside is quite comfortable and laid-back, which can be a nice break from the hustle and bustle of city life. However, catching a game requires some driving from the nearest major city.
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