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Official Review by Eric Taylor, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Nestled in the northeastern corner of South Nashville’s Edgehill neighborhood and inside the shadows of famed Music Row and downtown’s skyline, E.S. Rose Park and Sports Complex is an off-campus facility that offers a beautiful venue to take in a college baseball game. Sitting behind home plate, Nashville’s growing and thriving areas of downtown provide the outfield with a beautiful backdrop.
Rubberneck over your right shoulder during the lull between pitches, and you immediately notice the charm and history that South Nashville possesses. Reservoir Park -- what some say is one of Nashville’s best-kept secrets -- sits innocently behind the first baseline just a few blocks away. There is a house that sits perched on a hill of Reservoir as if it were put there to have a bird’s eye view of the game. The house serves as a reminder of the storied past and lore of this area. The architecture is reminiscent of early 20th century style, which pairs nicely with the Civil War battle markers throughout South Nashville. This reservoir ruptured and flooded South Nashville in 1912, but you should be able to enjoy the game without fear of a rupture. It’s been 102 years, but like a great hitter in a slump, it may be due. Perspective is key.
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".
There is one concession stand just a few steps away from the first baseline. There is a selection that does not lack the standard concessions that should be available at a ballpark. The size and setup is more reminiscent of a little league ballpark than a college baseball facility, but that is not necessarily a negative.
The prices are fair and the food is good. The Food Network won't be visiting anytime soon, but again, no complaints either.
It would be tough to find another sports venue in Nashville with the wide-angle lens view of the city as Rose Park. You can almost smell the aroma of gold records coming off of Music Row. Downtown's AT&T building (also called the "Batman building") pokes its torso and face above trees beyond the wall in left field.
A pavilion that sits on a small hill in left field provides fans with the option of picnicking under the cover provided on a hot day. Some fans -- as they did on this early spring day -- spread a blanket across the grass to enjoy a little food, drink, and baseball.
Baseball's atmosphere is a unique one, and Rose Park shows a fine ability to capture the essence of America's pastime as host of Belmont Bruins Baseball.
A few blocks off campus and anchored in the center of the Edgehill neighborhood in South Nashville, Rose Park is in an interesting part of Nashville. There's a lot of charm. Charm is a tricky word. Tiny houses with no room to live are cozy and have charm. Edgehill is a neighborhood flooded with historical architecture and charm. There's a side of the neighborhood that gives many reason to not be around when the sun goes down, but an overblown fear of a "bad neighborhood" is unnecessary.
Taco Mamacita is a popular spot just a few blocks toward Music Row. There's nothing within walking distance, but the drive to this restaurant is very short. Parking may be a little challenging, but you can always research parking at websites such as this one to ensure you get the best space.
I would give my customary three stars as I do for many reviews that have great fans, but I will stubbornly subtract a point for the cost of admission being zero. I will add that subtracted point back in as a bonus on the Return on Investment category (SPOILER ALERT).
Baseball fans are different than any other sport. A good baseball fan is not one who is on his or her feet the entire game screaming and imploring the team to victory. The best fans appear in study. Some even look to be taking a test, but the test page is an official scorecard. I saw more than one scorecard, so that is worth a point.
The second point comes from the number of fans in attendance. I have no official attendance figure, but considering the 5:00 p.m. first pitch on a Thursday, empty seats were not in high supply.
Parking at Rose Park is surprisingly simple. There was a high school track meet taking place simultaneously at the adjacent field inside the park (which involved numerous high schools), and parking was still not an issue.
Restrooms are very accessible, the concession stand is a short walk from any seat and the ballpark is about as easy to enter as any college ballpark. The number of paces you are required to take is extremely limited from the moment you enter the opening in the brick façade of the ballpark to your seat.
There are advantages to experiencing a sport at a smaller venue. Rose Park and Belmont Baseball take advantage of nearly every aspect of the access portion of the experience.
It's tough to not get something in return for your investment when price of admission is zero dollars and zero cents. It's a beautiful place to see a game and the prices of concessions are very affordable. Parking is also free. You aren't gambling with your life savings by bringing the family and taking a chance that your children will be ready to leave within the first ten minutes. There is a playground and lots of room to run, and if the kids just find baseball absolutely deplorable and insufferable (you may have kids that need their priorities checked...just kidding... kind of), you won't be out any wasted money on price of admission and parking.
One bonus star goes to Rose Park for being just that. A park. This is a great place for kids to run around if you want to bring the family and know the younger children won't be able to sit on bleachers to watch a full game. There is plenty of room for kids to scream, play, and burn that excess energy that parents fear will lead to late bedtimes and zero sanity. The playground area is less than 20 feet from the ballpark, so you are never forced to exclusively commit to the game or the playground.
I honestly went into this visit a little skeptical. Belmont is a great school with a great basketball facility, but I had heard a only few small compliments in passing regarding the baseball field. I didn't think there would be anything that would stand out, and I was expecting a high school baseball field adjacent to other fields filled with little leaguers and other recreational league sports.
I apologize to Belmont for assuming the worst, and owe Stadium Journey's readers an apology for not coming out to this beautiful setting much, much sooner. Take the family. Run by after work and catch a couple of innings a few times a year. Meet up with a friend and enjoy an inexpensive and relaxing view of Nashville draped behind the meticulously-manicured field. You might as well enjoy the baseball while you're at it. Just walk inside the various entries behind home plate and settle in to your seat anywhere between the bags at first and third base. Once your tail end makes contact with your personal bleacher, take a deep breath and realize it's okay to relax and let the game come to you. It's baseball. The game would have it no other way.
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