George S. Erath Field at Coy O. Williard Baseball Stadium (map it)
1013 N College Dr
High Point, NC 27262
Year Opened: 2007
There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Brian Wilmer, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Big South Conference is a sleeping giant among “mid-major” college baseball. Most baseball observers are familiar with the success of Coastal Carolina University, but the conference is home to a group of great academic institutions and equally great athletic facilities.
High Point University was afforded the opportunity to host the Big South Conference Tournament for the first time in 2012, and Williard Stadium’s George S. Erath Field caught its first taste of postseason baseball since becoming a Division I member in 1999.
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Despite High Point having a somewhat small facility, there is no shortage of food options in the ballpark. All of the ballpark standards are available, including hot dogs and corn dogs ($2), pretzels ($2), nachos ($2.50), and pizza ($2 a slice). There were also barbecue sandwiches and chicken sandwiches ($3.50 each) available, which was a nice surprise.
Candy and chips are reasonably cheap at $1, with water ($1.50 a bottle) or soda and Powerade ($2) to wash all of this down. Ice cream chain Bruster's also had several frozen treats available, which is great for the standard blazing-hot North Carolina day. A kids size is $2, with the regular at $3 and the large at $4.
One additional tip: you may be able to get a deal if you can be patient. On the night I attended, there was a two-for-one special on corn dogs toward the end of the night.
Williard Stadium is nestled among High Point's athletic complex, surrounded by the university's track and several other buildings. There is a white picket fence surrounding the main entrance, and columns similar to those in many other campus buildings are also prominently featured.
Once inside the ballpark, there is a very "comfortable" feel to the park. Rocking chairs are set up on the main concourse, with another bank of chairs on the grassy hill down the first base line. This hill also features kids playing catch with other kids, which was rather nice to see. There is an ease to moving around most of the park, with a number of different sight lines to explore.
It is also worth noting that everyone with whom I came in contact was amazingly nice and seemed to be happy to have each fan as a guest. There are no strangers at Williard Stadium, and even though the price to enter the facility is more than fair, the level of appreciation was higher than a lot of more expensive parks.
The one thing that took away from the experience was the constant shilling for a local barbecue distributor. Each inning that produced no runs was a "shutout inning" sponsored by that business, with an encouragement to visit the concession stand to get a sandwich. This really took away from the overall lack of wacky interruptions between innings.
The university is in a residential area, meaning there is not a lot of choice for pre-game or post-game activity. There are a couple of small restaurants (Lubrano's and Kozzy's Grille) just down Lexington Avenue from the complex, but most of the better places to eat are a few miles away in downtown High Point, or minutes away in Greensboro or Winston-Salem. High Point is part of the Triad region of the Piedmont of North Carolina, and with a number of colleges and universities in the region, opportunity is a short drive away.
The Big South Tournament featured schools from Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, and many of those schools were well-represented. Though smaller in numbers, they certainly made up for it in the support of their universities and players. The crowds seemed to thin out a bit as the evening wore on, but this happens in many facilities. The High Point community deserves kudos for being so supportive of this tournament and their university, as do the traveling fans for their dedication.
The thing that hurts this grade a little is the location of this park. The park is, as mentioned, in a residential neighborhood, and it is a bit tough to locate without an updated GPS. The closest "major" roads to the university are U.S. Route 311 and Interstate 74, and even these are not immediately accessible from the university area.
Once you find the park, though, access truly could not be easier. There is a suitably-sized parking area behind the track, and this leaves you with a short minute or two walk to the stadium. There is no charge for parking and getting into and out of the lot could not be easier. Bathrooms and other facilities are on the concourse, and the only way you would lose sight of what is going on at field level is if you have to go into the restroom.
If an inexpensive night out where you truly feel as though your dollar not only gets you entertainment, but appreciation, this is a great place to visit. Much like USC Upstate, a trip here will not set you back much at all, even during a tournament. Daily passes to the Big South Tournament are only $10, and this covers every pitch thrown on that particular day. Combine this with cheap concessions and the lack of having to leave the park between tournament games only to have to pay to re-enter, and this is a tough place to beat.
It is always such a nice thing to see when facilities realize that people make the difference, and High Point absolutely walks this proverbial walk. From the ticket scanners to the concession workers and everyone in between, I was truly impressed by the staff.
It has been mentioned above that High Point has a small seating bowl, but they make up for it by offering creative ways to watch the game. The rocking chairs are a really cool - and comfortable! - touch. Watching a game from a rocking chair is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lifetime.
There is also a seating area behind the outfield fence called The Panther's Den. There is bleacher seating in this area, and a couple of tables with umbrellas are also available. This provides a different view of the game, and helps with the lack of a concourse ringing the field.
The Triad is likely more well-known for its long history with the Atlantic Coast Conference and its schools, but a trip to High Point should not be ignored. This outpost is a must-see for fans of baseball and cool architecture alike. A word of warning, though: as mentioned earlier, it does get a little warm in the Carolinas, and there is virtually no shade to be found in the park. If you plan to attend a day game, keep this in mind and pack your sunscreen!
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