When you arrive at FAU Baseball Stadium at the campus of Florida Atlantic, you would expect it to be a nice venue, considering the area that the on campus stadium resides in, Boca Raton, is a rather wealthy one. However, that is not at all the case. The stadium is in dire need of an upgrade, along with more student support of the team.
When you walk into the stadium, the one lone ticket booth that they have is very much like something you would see at a high school game. It consists of just one table with someone working a cash box, not a register, so bring cash. After paying to get in, you have your choice of sitting in the seats (all with chairbacks) behind homeplate, or on the right field and left field side on a small grassy berm. You could also get right up to the fence and get within a couple feet of each dugout.
After opening in 1991, the FAU baseball team got ranked as high as number 8 in the nation in 1999, and has been to the NCAA Regional championships seven times in the last 13 years, most recently in 2010. They also have four alumni who are currently in MLB. With the amount of success the program has gained in the last decade alone, the team and fans deserve a better venue. According to the stadium's website, plans are in the works for a new facility. Until that time comes, this is what they must deal with.
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If you plan on taking a trip to FAU baseball stadium to see a game, don’t plan on there being much of a selection when it comes to food. The stadium contains just one stand for food inside a small trailer. Again, very much like something you would see at a high school game, or maybe even your little brother's Little League game. Not to mention, the food is priced relatively high, considering that the food isn’t much to write home about. A Gatorade is $4, while a soda or water is $3. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken sandwiches are $4 each, and fries are also $3. On the snack side, peanuts and popcorn are $3, cracker jacks are $2, and chips and candy are $1.
Luckily, FAU recognizes that the food is subpar, so they allow fans to bring their own coolers into the stadium and have a picnic on the grass along the right and left field lines. If regular ballpark food from a food trailer (or picnic food from your cooler) is not what you are looking for, there are plenty of fast food and table service restaurants to choose from close to the campus.
I went to the last game of a three-game series against Manhattan at a start time of 12:00 p.m. so there is some excuse as to why there were no students in attendance. Even without the student representation, the seating behind home plate was more than halfway full with parents and the general public. Also, on both the small hills that make up the right and left field sides, many fans either brought chairs to sit on or even leaned right up along the fence that separated them from the field and enjoyed the game. There is no entertainment provided by the school for the fans to enjoy, such as t-shirt tosses or chances to win prizes in between innings, which they could have done.
What I did like was that it was a very family friendly atmosphere, and you could tell the fans followed the team well. The best part is that the fans kind of treat the park as if it were just that, an actual park. You could see many of them lying down on blankets in the grass with the food and drinks that they bring into the stadium as if they were having a picnic at a park, which was neat to see. There are many times during the game where if someone were to cough, everyone there would know who did it, because it was that silent. The key when coming here is to not look for too much fun and excitement off the field, but rather look for it on the diamond.
Boca Raton, Florida, doesn’t boast much of a reputation for being a college town. With mainly rich retirees from up north and middle-aged families, there isn’t much for a college kid to do off campus. There is a movie theater and a mall within 5 minutes, and Fort Lauderdale is just 20 minutes away. Other than shopping and eating, there really isn’t anything else to do though.
My thoughts on the fan base of the Owls could be almost identical to those that I have of any ten year-old Little League team’s group of fans…filled with parents. I could tell right away that the parents of the players are the team’s biggest supporters because almost everyone was pointing out their son or grandson on the field. When your team has such great support from the parents, it’s not a problem. It only becomes a problem when they're the only source of fans that you have, which was very close to being the case here.
Located on the FAU campus, which is just off of Interstate 95 and about five miles east of Florida's Turnpike, it was a breeze finding the stadium. With the attendance not being so high, parking was just as easy as finding the place. A huge benefit is that parking is free and located directly outside the stadium. Although I didn’t see any foul balls reach any cars, I could see it happening with the parking being so close. That’s why I parked a little bit away from the field just in case.
God forbid you have to use the bathroom in this place, because finding it could be a chore and a half. It’s located next to the stadium in a locker-room type setting, with no signs telling you where to go to reach them. You could easily ask someone where to go, which I did, but you shouldn’t have to do that just to find a bathroom.
I thought that for the $6 I paid to get in, I would be treated to a better facility than what I encountered. The plays on the field were fine, but as far as the amenities that the stadium holds, well let’s just say I could get close to the same kind of treatment for free at a local park.
I can give one extra point toward the lenient policy of allowing fans to bring in their own food and drinks to the game and having a picnic. Another extra point must be given to the fact that you can literally stand close enough to each dugout and only a small fence separates you from being inside them. It's the best section to watch the game I feel, because you get a chance to see and hear everything that goes on.
In the past four years FAU has remodeled their basketball arena as well as built a brand new on campus football stadium. I think it is only a matter of time before this stadium goes under some much-needed renovations.
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