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Gene Hooks Field at Wake Forest Baseball Park

Winston-Salem, NC

Home of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons



Gene Hooks Field at Wake Forest Baseball Park (map it)
401 Deacon Blvd
Winston-Salem, NC 27105

Wake Forest Demon Deacons website

Gene Hooks Field at Wake Forest Baseball Park website

Year Opened: 1956

Capacity: 6,000

There are no tickets available at this time.


Local Information


Don't I Know You From Somewhere?

One could easily be excused if they experience a feeling of familiarity when walking through the gates of Gene Hooks Field. This place, after all, used to be Ernie Shore Field, one of the advanced-A Carolina League's storied facilities. Professional baseball spent 52 years on the site before moving downtown to BB&T Ballpark. This allowed Wake Forest University to have all three major athletic facilities in the same complex, with football's BB&T Field next door and basketball's Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum across Deacon Boulevard from the ballpark.

With the university now having the keys to the gates, the stadium is named for North Carolina Sports Hall of Famer and former Wake Forest student-athlete and athletic director Gene Hooks. Significant renovations, completed in 2011, helped to personalize the facility for the Demon Deacons. With a brand-new playing surface, seats, video board and much more, Gene Hooks Field presents an interesting mix of historic and modern influences. This blend makes for one of the Atlantic Coast Conference's preferred destinations.


What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    4

Chef-inspired four-course meals and craft beers do not await you on the concourse, but the choices are quite good for a college facility. The university operates two stands, with a fixed stand on the third base side and a trailer above the first base seating area. The third base stand offers many ballpark favorites, with hot dogs, Domino's pizza, "build-your-own" nachos and peanuts (all $3) highlighting the hot offerings. Peanuts ($3), cotton candy ($2), ice cream ($3), candy ($2) and chips or sunflower seeds ($1) serve as snacks. A pretzel stand also awaits nearby, offering salted and cinnamon pretzels for $4 each, with dips for an additional dollar.

For the sort who prefers additional choices, the first base trailer is the must-visit destination. The hot dogs, pizza slices, nachos, seeds and peanuts make the trip over from the opposite side of the facility, where they are joined by some familiar -- and not so familiar -- companions. French fries ($3 for regular, $5 for the chili cheese variety), chicken tender baskets ($6, also with fries), corn dogs ($3) and popcorn ($3) also join the party. Onion rings ($4) and deep-fried pickles ($5, with ranch dressing) help provide the fried delicacies many would expect from a ballpark located in the North Carolina piedmont.

Pepsi serves as the bottler for the ballpark. 20-ounce bottled Pepsi products are available for $3 from both stands. Bottled water is also sold for $2, making it easier to stay hydrated on the warm spring days in the Triad.

Atmosphere    4

The aforementioned renovation of the facility produced a number of excellent results, and the seats between the dugouts are among the highlights. The seats are wider and taller than many ballpark seats, resulting in far less pain and fatigue for fans of all heights and widths. With every seat being general admission, there is no premium for these seats. The seating layout produces some unusual angles, as the seats on the baselines are pointed toward the right field corner (on the third base side) and left field corner (on the first base side). The walkway in the front of the seating area and the tall net behind the plate do increase the distance between even the front row of seats and the action on the field, however.

Wake Forest uses the first base dugout, which allows fans to sit in the sun -- albeit on the bleachers, for the most part -- and enjoy the action. The seats behind the plate are mostly in the shade, which may be ideal for fans on warm days. If the bleachers are your destination, be sure to bring a seat cushion, as the bleachers can hurt after a while.

A manual scoreboard can be found on the left field wall. The scoreboard displays the game's line score, along with a count of runs, hits and errors. Balls, strikes, outs and the hit or error ruling are displayed with lights to the left of the line score. The base of the scoreboard is black, with white numbers and letters and lights of different colors. This allows the scoreboard to be visible from every seat in the ballpark.

A large video board hangs above the right field wall. This video board shows an active pitch count (balls, strikes and total), a strikeout total for the current pitcher and the speed of the previous pitch. The current batter's biographical information, statistics and photo are also displayed on the board. The board is not used for any video purposes (replays, highlights or in-game action), and this might be a nice addition, if possible.

Gene Hooks Field also features one of the most unusual playing surfaces in college baseball. The existing grass surface was removed when the Winston-Salem Dash vacated the facility, replaced by an artificial surface. The only remaining dirt on the field is on the pitcher's mound. The "dirt" around the plate and on the warning track is actually turf, which is painted in Wake Forest's famous gold color. The iconic Demon Deacon logo is painted behind the plate, with the interlocking "WF" on the turf in center field. The warning track is built on a slight incline, as there is no actual dirt to warn outfielders of the approaching fence. Though the gold surface where dirt would normally be found takes some getting used to, it is certainly a unique feature.

Neighborhood    3

The Wake Forest athletic complex is in a mostly nondescript neighborhood, aside from the athletic facilities. The neighborhood shows its age a bit in places, and is not necessarily loaded with walkable nightspots or dining. The neighborhood, along with the complex's location in Winston-Salem proper, may leave you needing a vehicle for your post-game activities.

One preferred destination for most of the locals is Putters Patio & Grill. Located a half-mile or so away near Deacon Boulevard's intersection with University Parkway, Putters offers a diverse menu for all of the fans in your party. Steaks, sandwiches and burgers are among the many choices on which to dine. If you need a beer to wash down your meal, a large selection of drafts, bottles, imports and microbrews is available on the menu.

Fans    2

Wake Forest has a reasonably solid group of fans, and these fans make themselves known during the expected times in each game. They make a lot of noise for a small group, often sounding as though they are a larger contingent than the numbers that turn out for a game.

With this said, however, Gene Hooks Field seats 6,000 fans, and the stadium was only at one-sixth that capacity for the Saturday afternoon game I attended in 2013. Making this worse was the fact that nationally-ranked Virginia was in town, and Virginia's fans easily outnumbered Wake fans three-to-one on the afternoon. Virginia took the lead on a grand slam in the top of the ninth, and a "UVa!" chant erupted from the orange-and-blue-clad Cavalier fans in the seats. A facility of this caliber deserves better fan support, and the hope is that this will eventually be the case.

Access    3

The Wake Forest athletic complex is located in the northern part of the city, somewhat far away from Winston-Salem's interstate access. The closest interstate is North Carolina Interstate 40, which is still 10-15 minutes away. University Parkway and US Highway 52 are the two closest "major" roads to the complex, with University Parkway just a few blocks away on Deacon Boulevard. This means that, in most cases, the trip to a Wake Forest baseball game will involve navigating city streets, with a number of stop lights along the route.

Parking is free, and is available in several lots on the same side of Deacon Boulevard as the stadium. The lots on the stadium premises fill up in a hurry, so you may find more available spaces at BB&T Field next door, which is just a short walk from the park. Traffic is not too much of a hassle when leaving the park, even when an event is going on across the street at the Coliseum. Though there may be a brief delay in leaving the parking lot, you should be on your way to anywhere in the Triad within minutes. Speaking of the Triad, access to Winston-Salem by air is routed through Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTI), which is located 20-25 minutes from campus, just outside Greensboro.

Be cautioned that buying tickets for a Demon Deacon baseball game can be a bit of an ordeal. If you try to buy a ticket online, there is a considerable service charge. With tickets priced at $5 for each seat, a $5 service charge is tacked on for purchases of two or more tickets. This means that a $10 purchase of two tickets, along with the service charge, means you are essentially paying for three tickets, while only getting two. The university's credit card machine was out of order on the day I visited, leaving the university to write down credit card numbers of fans wishing to buy tickets without cash. There is no ATM on-site, or really anywhere close to the facility. Neither of these situations should take place at a university of Wake Forest's stature, and some attention to customer service in these areas would be quite welcome.

The concourse inside the stadium is wide enough to allow plenty of room to maneuver for even the largest crowd that may attend a game. Crowds are a bit slow to leave when games end, as only one gate is open. Much like traffic outside of the park, allow an extra minute or two to leave the park after the game. The bathrooms are plenty clean and offer enough facilities for everyone to use, but do show their age a bit.

Return on Investment    5

Once you get past the concerns with actually buying a ticket, Wake Forest baseball actually offers a pretty decent value. All tickets are $5, whether you sit in the front row of seats or in the top set of bleachers. This allows you to move around and find your preferred vantage point in the stadium, and you can either embrace or avoid the Carolina sun. The Atlantic Coast Conference is one of the top baseball leagues in the country, and just about any Wake Forest home game will include a quality opponent, assuming you are not coming out to see the home nine.

Using the standard test of a game ticket, hot dog and soda, the total comes to $11. Parking is free, as we mentioned, which helps add to the value. A family of four can easily get into a game for under $50, a cost that is tough to beat.

Extras    3

A table is set up just inside the entry gate to the stadium. This table features roster sheets, as well as other information. The Baseball Bingo game (played on Saturdays) also has a grouping of cards on the table. Baseball Bingo is one of the numerous promotions offered during each game, including a promotion where the first fan to bring three announced items to the press box wins a prize package. The items on the day I attended were a ticket, a tissue and a hunting license. A contest to grant a prize to one of the fans who "likes" the Wake Forest baseball Facebook page also takes place.

Banners commemorating Wake Forest's championship past also hang on the left and right field walls in the stadium. Wake Forest's ACC championships (1955, 1962, 1963, 1977, 1998, 1999 and 2001) adorn the left field wall, while their NCAA title (1955) is displayed on the right field wall. Wake Forest may not be competing for College World Series titles any longer, but they are certainly a competitive team in the ACC.

A bell also sits on the concourse behind home plate, and is one of the more noticeable elements in the park. This bell rings after every Wake Forest runner crosses the plate, and is quite audible throughout the park. If a trip to the concession stand is in the offing while Wake Forest is mounting a rally, be prepared for a ringing bell as you return to your seat.

Final Thoughts

Professional teams everywhere are constantly on the lookout for new and upgraded facilities, and college sports are certainly getting into the act. Wake Forest is an example of the best of both worlds, featuring a facility with a number of modern amenities, while still retaining the history of the stadium in which they play. If you have seen a game in Ernie Shore Field during its heyday, a trip to a Demon Deacons game might leave you looking around at the cosmetic changes, but rest assured, the stadium's heart is untouched.

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Putters Patio & Grill  (map it!)

3005 Bonhurst Dr

Winston-Salem, NC 27106

(336) 724-9990


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