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Official Review by Chad Minton, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
In a major U.S. city that doesn’t have a Major League Baseball team, the Vanderbilt Commodores are quickly starting to become Nashville’s baseball team.
As for their home, Hawkins Field, it’s about as nice as you can ask for in college baseball. Everything from the brick layout to the Vandy logo etched into the outfield turf makes Hawkins Field a place you have to visit during the college baseball season.
If you can’t make it up to Boston for a Red Sox game to see their infamous Green Monster, Hawkins Field has one of its own.
At just over a decade old, Hawkins Field gives the baseball fan the ultimate experience, due to how close you can be to the action.
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".
If you attend a game that happens to be close to a sellout, things can get kind of confusing on where you go for concessions. The reason behind this is that the outfield bleachers are not connected to the concourse that circles the infield. If you are sitting in the outfield bleachers, the university opens open up the concession areas of Memorial Gym. This isn't too big of a hassle, by any means, but it was definitely a first for me to witness at any college sporting event.
The prices are reasonable on some items, but a little steep on others. If you're really hungry, you can get a personal pan pizza from Papa John's for $7. The basic concession items like nachos, pretzels and hot dogs are all $4. The school calls their hot dogs "Commodore Dogs", but there really isn't a difference. Cracker Jacks and candy are $3, which is a little high. Nothing is cheaper than $3.
Beverages are $3 for regular sodas, or $7 for the big souvenir cup.
If you're in the outfield bleacher seating, there is a patio area that has a couple food carts and tables. The carts serve bratwursts for $7, along with bottled drinks.
The game I attended marked the first game of the final series of the season, and it was against Alabama. The atmosphere couldn't have been better for the then number one-ranked Commodores, as they returned home with a 46-6 overall record.
You truly feel as though you're at a venue that's worthy of being home to the number one team in the country when you're at Hawkins Field. The infield seating is all chairback seating, and the outfield consists of metal bleachers.
The Commodores scored seven runs on this night against Alabama, and a loud fog horn echoed throughout the stadium each time a Commodore run was scored. This really got the stadium energized. Music is constantly played throughout the game to keep up the level of excitement, and the t-shirt toss during the seventh-inning stretch was also fun.
What you can take away from Hawkins Field is that it is a place that is really starting to build some serious college baseball tradition. The best part is that the fans are starting to buy into that feeling, and this really makes for a fun time at the ballpark.
There are so many fun things to do within a couple miles of Hawkins Field. Music venues, upscale restaurants and casual bars are all within walking distance of the main gates.
You only need to go a few miles down West End Avenue to reach the famous Broadway and check out all of the fun places that Nashville has to offer. Country music obviously reigns supreme in Nashville, and there are several cool places to see just down the road from Hawkins Field to get your country music fix. However, there are a few rock music venues to check out as well, including Exit Inn.
If you want to eat at a fine dining restaurant before or after the game, there are several great options. Maggiano's Little Italy and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse are two solid picks that are near the ballpark.
The fans really came out in a big way and supported the number one-ranked Commodores as they closed out their record-breaking 2013 season. No seats were available on the infield on the day of the game, and fans instead had to settle for the outfield seats. The view offered from the outfield seating offers a unique perspective of the game.
As for the fans, they cheered for virtually every positive play that was made by the Commodores, and there were plenty to go around. It was also impressive to see a near-capacity crowd at Hawkins Field on a Thursday night. The fans have appeared to really get behind this team that has annual national championship expectations.
If you're trying to get to a game in the evening, you have to take into account the heavy traffic that goes through this part of downtown Nashville. The West End area is loaded with things to do, so the roads can get very congested.
Finding Hawkins Field is pretty straightforward from West End Avenue. You take a left on Natchez Trace, and that will take you to Jess Neely Drive. The ballpark is located here, and a guest parking garage is located less than a block away from the park. You do have to be careful not to park in lots that are designated by permit. It can sometimes be easy to overlook the signs that are posted, and there are plenty of these types of lots located near Hawkins Field.
Much like the concession stands, the restrooms depend on where you end up sitting. If you're in the outfield bleachers, you can use the restrooms that are located in Memorial Gymnasium.
Infield tickets are $12, and these are comfortable chairback seats that offer an excellent view of the game. However, the outfield bleachers are a great spot to watch the game, as well, and those are just $7. Those ticket prices are pretty fair to check out one of the best teams in the country.
A fun night at Hawkins Field enjoying some top-notch college baseball can cost you less than $30, if you factor in the $5 price for parking in the guest parking garage.
The school does a great job at highlighting their team at Hawkins Field. Things like the Vandy logo in the outfield turf and the giant left-field scoreboard with the logo on top all do a great job of making you feel as though you're in Vandy country.
Friendly fans are always a pleasure to see, and the Vandy fans are very nice and knowledgeable of the game. A big extra goes to the kindness of one fan who gave a foul ball to a little kid. I'm sure that little kid will remember that for a long time, and probably go to plenty more Vandy baseball games.
The cleanliness of Hawkins Field also deserves an extra point. It's easy to keep a smaller ballpark somewhat clean, but Hawkins Field has a lot more real estate than the typical college ballpark. It is nice to see such a clean ballpark.
Another extra point goes to how quickly things have taken off for this Vanderbilt baseball program, and how great of a job this venue has done at keeping up with the hype. There's a lot of excitement surrounding this program right now, and Hawkins Field definitely adds to that excitement.
The Vanderbilt Commodores are quickly starting to become Nashville's favorite baseball team, and you witness that firsthand when attending a game at Hawkins Field. This ballpark is gorgeous in so many ways, and it's nestled in a great part of downtown Nashville that caters to a lot of tourism.
If you love baseball in general, check out Hawkins Field the next time you're in Nashville. You'll see some of the best young stars college baseball has to offer, while also discovering a ballpark that is one of college baseball's hidden gems.
Member Review by ChadMinton on Feb 27, 2012
Hawkins Field was introduced as Vanderbilt's new baseball field in 2002, and is widely considered one of the premiere baseball facilities in all of college baseball. One of the things that makes Hawkins Field so cool is the brick layout and the black fencing that separates the inside of the stadium from the busy Nashville streets. Hawkins Field was also recently renovated in 2006, which added new seating along the baselines, and even the addition of outfield bleacher seating.
Member Review by VandyDore on Feb 01, 2013
Given that Chad totally missed just about everything about Hawkins Stadium, I suggest you read my comments sent in response to his hack job. I almost doubt he even came to a game, for he MISSED EVERYTHING that he said was missing but that, in truth, is present at Vandy games. Even so, to write a review of a baseball stadium on a rainy day? That is just downright poor journalism. After all, all he had to do was wait until the next day WHEN IT WASN'T RAINING!
Member Review by WesSparkmon on Jul 13, 2014
I've been to a few games at Hawkins Field. If you've never been to any game at Vandy, the "big 3" athletic facilities are right on top of each other. In fact, Hawkins Field doesn't have bathroom facilities of its own. If you are in the chairbacks in the infield, the facilities are in the football stadium. If you are in the outfield bleachers, the facilities are in the basketball arena. Access is relatively easy from either West End Ave. or Hillsboro Pk., with parking available in nearby garages or landlots within easy walking distance. Restaurants are a short distance away, but still probably require driving. It is arguable that baseball is the most popular sport at Vanderbilt, and it shows in their fans. Vandy fans are relatively active, though not much of a "student section". With free parking and fairly inexpensive tickets, Hawkins Field is one of the SEC's better baseball facilities.
Nashville, TN 37203
Nashville, TN 37203
605 8th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203