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Official Review by Miles Markiewicz, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Secluded behind the Eastwood shopping mall in Niles, Ohio sits Eastwood Field, home of the Youngstown State Penguins baseball team. It is a unique position for a stadium and is also home to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. There are some minor league amenities in a college environment that are fun to explore.
Eastwood Field was constructed in 1999 with an $8.3 million budget and has been home to baseball ever since. Even though the games here are enjoyable, being 12 miles from the YSU campus severely takes away from an authentic college baseball experience. A seating capacity of around 6,000 allows the possibility for some good crowds, but the distance makes it difficult for the casual fan to make the trip.
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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".
The variety at the ballpark is great, but there's nothing that stands out from the rest. Plus, some of the specialty stands they use for minor league games are closed during the college games. It's never good to be informed on what you're missing from the experience.
The quality of the food is average. You can grab a hot dog ($3), burger ($6), grilled chicken sandwich ($6), or nachos ($4). For some added variety you can purchase chicken fingers, buckets of fries, pizza, or boneless wings.
The essential snacks are there as well including sunflower seeds ($1.50), cracker jacks ($3.25), chips ($2), and peanuts ($3.25).
There are plenty of drink options including bottled soda, Aquafina, Gatorade, and Mountain Dew ($3.50). Also, since the stadium is not on a college campus they are allowed to sell draft beer ($6 for a 20 oz. $9 for a 32 oz.).
If you are adventurous on your stadium journeys, you might just arrive at the YSU campus without a map looking for the baseball stadium. After all, they advertise the games on the marquees all over campus. Plus, the campus has been around for a long time so there is a lot to see. However, once game time comes around you're going to have to make a trip to Niles about 20 minutes away. This really takes away from the experience when you're expecting a college atmosphere.
The stadium itself is fun, but not overwhelming. It is hidden behind a shopping mall of the same name and only has a view of vegetation beyond the outfield wall. It kind of makes you feel boxed into a corner. The environment really resembles minor league baseball more than college baseball. Everything from the music to the entertainment in between innings puts you right in the middle of that feeling. This keeps the stadium from achieving a more enjoyable experience for baseball fans looking for the college game.
The feeling of the neighborhood is literally nonexistent. That atmosphere is 20 minutes away on campus. However, there are some places to spend some time before or after the game.
The most popular restaurant is Bill's Place just off of Mahoning Avenue in Austintown. Located just about 10 minutes from the stadium, this is a great place to grab some decent food and play some pool and take advantage of the drink specials.
The highlight of your trip will be Stambaugh Stadium, if you decide to spend some time on campus. The football program has enjoyed notoriety and success over the years. The stadium is a mammoth concrete structure located just off the highway. The location is really neat and a must see for any college football fan.
Youngstown has some good fans that mostly come from a strong college football following. The distance from the campus seems to keep any kind of student attendance to a minimum. The crowd is mostly filled with families looking for a night out as opposed to a true college community.
The fans that do show up are highly supportive of the team and come decked out in Penguin apparel. If you can, try to make it to the stadium when a big time school is in town, especially if it's another Ohio school like Ohio State. This will increase chances of a bigger and louder crowd.
The stadium is really easy to get to, but it is hidden behind the shopping mall and located 20 minutes down the highway from YSU. Those factors can make it a bit tricky to find. The parking is only $3 and there's plenty of room in the lot to find a good spot. The lines for concessions can get a bit long, but you can just find a smaller service station down the first base side instead of in the main concourse if you want to avoid standing in line.
Once inside the stadium, you'll find the area is quite spacious. The seating is general admission so you're free to explore the different views of the ballpark. The best view is in the bleachers on the third base side, about 30 rows up. From there, you can see everything including the bullpen and all of the game action.
The tickets will only cost you $8 per person and are general admission. The prices at the concessions are respectable and the parking is cheap.
Overall, this makes for an affordable night out with the family in a fun environment. Just make sure to prepare for the cold weather, even in the month of May college baseball can be a cold game.
One point for all of the different views you can get from around the stadium, especially the best view from the bleachers down the third base line.
Another point for the nice lawn area in right field, a great spot to enjoy some beverages.
The trip to Youngstown, Ohio can be enjoyable if you want to bring along the family or a best friend, but the stadium experience is not on par with premier college atmospheres. The campus and stadium are just too spread out and nothing seems to be within walking distance. There aren't that many places to enjoy a good meal or to experience some entertainment outside the baseball game. But, if you happen to live in Northern Ohio, Eastwood Field makes for a decent night out.
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4771 Mahoning Ave
Austintown, OH 44515
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