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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
There’s something special about a trip to Notre Dame. Many college football fans feel like they are obligated to make the pilgrimage to South Bend to see Notre Dame Stadium, with Touchdown Jesus in the background. The new Compton Family Ice Arena is one of the best new facilities in college hockey, and Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center is a good place to see some hoops.
Notre Dame baseball is played at Frank Eck Stadium. It is an unspectacular, but serviceable facility, and still affords sports fans the opportunity to walk around the beautiful Notre Dame campus. There are lights at the Eck, so you may be able to see a spring night game, especially during the week.
While a trip to Frank Eck Stadium may not be the first recommendation I would make to someone who wants to travel to South Bend for a sporting event, I certainly wouldn’t discourage anyone from planning a night of baseball at Notre Dame.
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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 food at Frank Eck Stadium can best be summarized as above average in quality, slightly expensive, and with a poor overall selection. I guess that makes the concession offerings about average overall.
The menu is simple with hot dogs ($4), brats ($5), nachos ($4), popcorn ($4), and pretzels ($4.50). I thought that the brat was very good, and pretzel was decent. Coca-Cola is the pop on offer. There are two souvenir sizes (32-ounce and 20 ounce, priced at $5 and $4), or you can have a bottle of water for $3.50.
The stadium and playing field are a tribute to two men who contributed greatly to the baseball tradition at Notre Dame. Frank Eck was an alumnus of the university, and also a benefactor who contributed more than $35 Million to Notre Dame, facilitating the construction of the baseball stadium, Eck Tennis Pavilion, and Eck Hall of Law, among other projects.
The field itself is named in honor of Jake Kline, who coached the baseball team from 1934-1975. A bust of Kline is found inside the main entrance. Kline also played for the Irish from 1915-1917, and remarked that his proudest accomplishment was that he always hit over .300.
The building itself is consistent with many of the athletic facilities at Notre Dame. The exterior is light gray and brown bricks. When you enter, you'll immediately find the lone concession stand. Make your way to the right and have a seat in the bleachers. I like the right side of home plate so you have a view of the home team dugout. The seating is gold or blue metal bleachers. They aren't terribly comfortable, but they are a little warmer than some of the bleachers you will find at other college baseball venues, which is especially important if it is a cold day or evening.
Netting stretches from dugout to dugout to protect fans from foul balls, but also somewhat obstruct the view. Overhead netting hangs in the area immediately behind home plate. There is additional bleacher seating down the left field line if you prefer to sit where there is not the protective netting.
Many baseball stadiums have signs that warn fans of batted balls or bats entering the stands. Notre Dame has one of the most foreboding of these signs that I have encountered. It reads that, "Baseball is inherently a dangerous game...".
The outfield is symmetrical, with dimensions of 330-380-400-380-330 from left to right. The playing field is not unique or interesting in that sense, but it is still a nice place to sit back and watch some baseball.
Part of the charm of the neighborhood is certainly the Notre Dame campus. I visited the Snite Museum of Art, which is a nice little museum on campus, with over 24,000 pieces, including a collection of Rembrandt etchings. A walk around the football stadium is also a must, as is the obligatory photo of "Touchdown Jesus," the mural on the Hesburgh Library.
The most convenient place to grab a bite to eat is the on-campus Legends of Notre Dame, across from the Lou Holtz Gate of the football stadium. They have decent pub food and a good beer selection and will certainly help get you into the Fighting Irish spirit.
If you want to go off campus, I like Mulligan's for their unpretentious, but tasty food. You'll usually find some serious talk about Notre Dame athletics around the bar, and there's a pool table in case you want to shoot a bit before the game.
The more divey classic, the Linebacker Lounge is also within walking distance of the baseball stadium. The beer selection is not as good, but this is a traditional hangout, especially before football games. Their food is better than expected and this is the cheaper option of the three if you're on a budget.
Rocco's restaurant is known for its pizza, but is probably far enough that you will want to drive rather than walk.
Other attractions include the Studebaker National Museum for car enthusiast, the College Football Hall of Fame for football fans, or you may want to see a doubleheader of baseball. Check the schedule and you may be able to line up two games in one day by seeing the South Bend Silver Hawks at Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium. The team is in the Midwest league, and is affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Many college baseball experiences you will find only friends and family of home and visiting players in the stand for the most part. At Notre Dame you can expect to find this mix with a smattering of other alumni, locals, and families. It's a fairly low-key group, but they will get excited when the Irish score, and the Notre Dame fight song is played over the PA.
Aim your GPS for Notre Dame Stadium, and you'll be in good shape as far as finding the baseball stadium. Parking is free, and you'll find a spot either right next to, or right across from the stadium. When I go to baseball games, I find that it is often a good idea not to take the closest spot available as you never know when a stray foul ball may hit your car, so parking across the street from Frank Eck Stadium would be my recommendation.
There is one restroom for each gender, but it is fairly large and clean, so there should be no issues there. Crowds are usually small enough that even if there is a larger than usual crowd, it shouldn't take long to get out of the lot and towards your destination.
Tickets are just $5 for adults and $3 for youth and seniors. Even after your brat and Coke, you're only looking at $15 per person for a game, so this prices out very well. I would definitely stop in again the next time that I am in the area, especially if it is nice spring day.
Notre Dame has been a consistent power in the Big East, so you are likely to see a good product on the field. The Irish won consecutive Big East Titles from 2001-2006, although they have made only two appearances in the College World Series in the program's history (1957 and 2002).
If you catch a foul ball you will need to return it, as is the practice at many college baseball venues. However, the Irish athletic department will trade you a ball signed by a notable Notre Dame alumnus, so that's worth an extra point.
Finally, an extra point for the beautiful Notre Dame campus. It's just one of those places that feels special, and I enjoy every opportunity I have to visit during any of their sporting events.
If you like college baseball, then Notre Dame should be one of the destinations you endeavor to visit. Interesting museums, fun dining options, and a lovely campus converge to make for a nice afternoon or evening of baseball.
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54801 Juniper Rd
Notre Dame, IN 46566
1705 S Bend Ave
South Bend, IN 46637
1631 S Bend Ave
South Bend, IN 46617
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556
201 Chapin St
South Bend, IN 46601
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