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Official Review by Chad Minton, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Vanderbilt Commodores play their baseball at one of the top ballparks in all of college baseball, Hawkins Field.
Situated directly on Vanderbilt University's downtown campus, Hawkins Field has a classic ballpark feel with its brick layout and gorgeous outfield backdrop of downtown Nashville.
The powers that be at Vanderbilt have done a superb job at keeping this ballpark pristine. It made its debut in 2002, but additions have been made to it since then. The most recent being a new scoreboard in left field.
With no MLB team to satisfy the appetite of baseball fans in Nashville, the "Vandy Boys" do an outstanding job at being the next best thing. You have to supply a great ballpark to house one of the top programs in the country, and Hawkins Field lives up to that challenge.
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".
You're probably not going to be blown away by the menu at Hawkins Field. They could expand on this menu and get more creative as the popularity will continue to grow to see Vanderbilt baseball. It certainly lacks the creativity of some ballpark menus, but it also offers all the baseball fan's classic favorites.
If you have a lot of mouths to feed, go with the $10 combo of a hot dog, popcorn, and a soft drink. That's great value that makes it easier on families that regularly frequent baseball games.
Ballpark bratwursts are $6, which is the best thing on the menu. It's simple, but certainly gets the job done.
Endless popcorn costs $9 for the fan that just wants to snack for the entire game. Other food options include chili cheese nachos at $7, regular nachos for $5, jumbo pretzels for $5, hot dogs for $4.50, and the always popular bag of peanuts for $4. Also at $4 you can get cracker jacks.
There is no alcohol available at Hawkins Field, but you'll find Coke products, Powerade, Vitamin Water and bottled water for $5 and under.
What's better when it comes to live sports than seeing some top notch baseball on a beautiful day? That's what you'll most likely get when you come to Hawkins Field to see a Vanderbilt team that's usually ranked in the top 10.
The energy is constantly kept up during Vandy games. You have a wildly enthusiastic PA announcer, upbeat music between innings and lively student support. It reminds you that you're seeing one of the best that college baseball can offer. How can you not get pumped when Hawkins Field blares House of Pain's "Jump Around" after a home run is jacked into the outfield bleachers? Unless you're supporting the visiting team, there's no excuse not to get excited.
A new state-of-the-art scoreboard was just recently installed in left field. It's one that you would expect to see at a top-end minor league ballpark. It supplies the full batting order, game stats and other graphics.
You'll also get the feeling of tradition at Hawkins Field. They've done an awesome job recognizing the former greats that once wore the black and gold. Players like David Price and Dansby Swanson have flags with their numbers blowing through the breeze above the seating. Paying respects to your former greats adds to that aura that many college ballparks don't have the luxury of displaying.
Finally, the brick layout walking through the concourse does wonders for giving you that warm, fuzzy feeling that baseball purists love at live games.
Sitting in downtown Nashville's Midtown neighborhood, Hawkins Field is right next to some of the best restaurants the area has to offer. You have several options near Vanderbilt's campus. Two top choices are Stony River Steakhouse and Maggiano's Little Italy. Both are a little upscale, and have excellent reputations. There are loads of other casual dining options in the immediate area like Chili's, Chipotle Southwest Grill, and Nama's Sushi Bar.
This area isn't quite as walkable as the Broadway strip. You can't bar hop on foot as easily, but Uber will be your best friend. There are plenty of bar and pub options at your disposal. The top destination is Clyde's on Church with awesome pub grub, cocktails, and games like table tennis and shuffleboard.
If the weather is really cooperating, treat yourself to checking out Centennial Park and the Parthenon, an exact replica of the Greek Parthenon in Athens. It's right across the street from Vanderbilt's campus and can make for a relaxing day at a beautiful park.
Hotels are plentiful right by the ballpark, including several within walking distance. Your closest option is Holiday Inn, but there are 4-star hotels like Loew's Vanderbilt Hotel and Hutton Hotel close by. In other words, you can be choosey.
Diehard college baseball fans are harder to come by than other sports. There is nowhere near the attention for college baseball as there is for college football or basketball, but you wouldn't notice that at Hawkins Field.
The fan support is one of the best you will likely come across on your collegiate baseball travels. On a typical day, the infield will be near capacity. You can't just enter the park and sit where you please because you will most likely be asked to move by the people who bought those seats.
These fans are knowledgeable, vocal and loyal. They know their players and are extremely supportive. Several times during the game expect to hear the "Black and Gold" chant that one of the regular fans will randomly get started.
Students also regularly attend the games. Some may be studying or socializing more than following every pitch, but at least they show up to support their team.
Since the 2014 national championship, local support has understandably blossomed. There's a ton of buzz surrounding this team. There's certainly no lack of fan pride for the Commodores at "The Hawk."
Heavy city traffic will really be your only worry here. The campus is really easy to find and very navigable. Your major headache will be the crazy amounts of congestion that riddles this part of downtown. Even if there's nothing going on, which is rare, you're going to fight a lot of traffic.
As far as finding the ballpark, there shouldn't be any issues. The most direct route is getting off of the I-440 at West End Avenue. That takes you directly to campus on the right side. Hop onto Natchez Trace and that will take you right by the Vanderbilt sports complex, including Hawkins Field.
Parking can be tricky as there are numerous lots that are blocked for permits only. These are clearly marked to make it easy to figure out where to go. Your best option is following Natchez Trace further down until you find lots on the right side, or pay to park in the garage.
You might be a little confused navigating your way through the concourse of Hawkins Field as it shares this area with the football stadium. They're adjoined so you're walking within Vanderbilt Stadium when finding your section. If you're in the outfield, you'll have to use a separate entrance than that of the infield. There are no concession stands or restrooms in the outfield, so you'll use Memorial Gymnasium for concessions and restrooms.
You should come out of an experience at Hawkins Field feeling like you got a bargain. There are two ticket options at your disposal. Going the route of the outfield bleachers will be around $8, and the infield tickets with chair back seating should only be around $12. Youth tickets for ages 17 and under are $6, something you don't always see at sporting events. Not a bad value at all to see a top baseball program.
If you combine the affordable ticket prices with low concession prices and free parking availability, you can reasonably enjoy a game at Hawkins Field for under $20.
An extra goes out to the enthusiastic and loyal Commodore fans. It's a very diverse crowd that's filled with student support, families and baseball fans in general. The infield is regularly at capacity, especially when the students decide to show up in large numbers.
The new scoreboard in left field really makes the ballpark pop and gives it a huge boost aesthetically. It has a crystal-clear picture to go along with player graphics and stats. It's an awesome addition to the ballpark.
A final extra goes to the overall comfort of the ballpark. The seating is spacious and comfortable. You can really settle in and enjoy some baseball here without feeling cramped and feeling sore from sitting on metal bleachers for three hours.
The overall experience at Hawkins Field has kept pace with the success of the Vanderbilt program on the field. It's really cool to see how the locals have gripped tightly to this team, and it will be very apparent when you attend a game here.
As the popularity of the "Vandy Boys" keeps growing, the experience should keep getting better.
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 ChadMinton on May 21, 2013
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.
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.
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