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Official Review by Jimmy Knight, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Believe it or not, sometimes there are just too many options. As a society, by necessity, we are always looking for capsules that offer as many interesting facets as possible. If you are looking for something that sums up as much of Memphis, Tennessee as possible, look no further. FedExPark allows you to be outdoors, watch baseball, eat BBQ and root on the home town University of Memphis Tigers.
FedExPark is the home venue for Tigers Baseball and was formerly named Nat Buring Stadium. The name change occurred with renovations in 2009 at a $3 million price tag. The stadium has a natural grass field, covered grandstands and is a piece of the South Campus which includes renovated football, softball, track & field and golf facilities.
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".
FedExPark has a very impressive concession stand and options to choose from. The all brick building that backs up to the grandstands is impressive in show, giving a big league ballpark feel to it. Sold in the concession stand are the typical yet tasty burgers, hot dogs, popcorn and soft drinks. But, what makes this stadium elite when it comes to food is the option to purchase the BBQ Nachos. It's a delicious dish that was invented in Memphis, and has become a staple in BBQ joints all over the south.
The atmosphere at the ballpark can vary. The environment can easily be described as full of anticipation. Not just about the next pitch, but for the team as a whole. The Tigers baseball team fits the easy cliché of a 'sleeping giant' and everybody at the game portrays that constantly. The tension and pressure radiates throughout and adds to the drama. In the event of a rout by either team, the stands can feel a bit lonely, but close and contested games are the polar extreme. Players' family and friends as well as die-hard fans are the basis for a raucous that gives them the proverbial home field advantage.
As an urban school, the surrounding area has the anticipated mixture of commercial and apartments surrounding the property on all sides. South Campus also has ongoing construction, a new driving range for the golf team, as well as a new football practice facility, softball field and track and field complex.
There is plenty to see on the South Campus that is worth the drive around, especially if another sporting event is going on. Outside of that, there are minimal spots of interest for the game-goers within walking distance. A couple of miles drive will bring you plenty of local college bars that provide great food and excellent atmosphere. If you are in the area, just look for the 'Highland Strip' for most of these locations.
Tiger High, as the University of Memphis is known in the area, has a loyal following that supports their teams. Obviously, the basketball team draws most of the coverage, but you will see many of the same faces from the basketball games at the football and baseball games. The passion exists on the surface and is easily aroused.
Throughout the game the staff engages the fans with many different contests. This includes trivia, Let's Make a Deal, and TV Show Theme Song contests that are interesting and hilarious. The home crowd is also courteous and gracious to the opposition. It is not uncommon to see fans with opposing colored shirts talking in the stands or joking and laughing by the concessions.
The only challenge is finding the entrance to the South Campus. Once in, everything is on the road that loops the property. Parking is ample and the walk is minimal to get in to the ballpark. The life-size decorative tiger and FedExPark sign banner the entrance and would bring pride to any Tiger fan.
The intensity of a conference game or playing a regionally ranked powerhouse can make for a great game and a fun time for the family. Any competition enthusiast would relish the event. For the everyday family or fan looking for an affordable and enjoyable time, this is absolutely the place for you.
A combination of the food, site lines, contests and baseball make for a great time for all. It feels like big league competition with college hustle and atmosphere.
FedExPark has a party deck in left field and right field that can be reserved. Youth groups, fan clubs and birthday parties are commonly found on these decks.
Do not forget to take a picture next to the decorative Tiger. He is a hit with kids of all ages.
As you stroll around, you might get lucky and be able to see where the football team practices indoors or a track event in the parallel lot. For the University of Memphis athletic department these are trophies on the path to a premier program.
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