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Official Review by Steven Bieniek, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Hawley Field was built in 1971, and you can definitely tell that it is more than four decades old. Home to the West Virginia Mountaineers baseball team, the field has served its purpose; but as the team is about to move to the Big 12, it may be time for an upgrade. Luckily for the team, the administration is trying hard to move forward with improvements in some way.
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".
There are a couple of food options at Hawley Field; first you can bring your food and snacks to the field or second, pick up something at the very limited concession stand. There are only the basics, and the quality is just sufficient. The prices are also higher than some minor league stadiums with popcorn going for $4 and a bottle of water or a candy bar sold for $3. I think the moral of the story is to just pick up your lunch or dinner before you go to the field.
To be completely honest, Hawley Field is a tough place to watch a game. The factors that cause this atmosphere might be the limited seating, the backless metal bleachers and really the overall condition of the stadium. It feels like the University already knows not many people are going to attend the games, so why put too much work into the field? If you run into a day that is overly hot or rainy, don't expect any relief from these conditions as there is no covered seating.
The final thing that might take away from the atmosphere is the scoreboard. Really the only thing that the scoreboard kept track of is the score. If you're someone who likes to keep score at a game; make sure you pay very close attention, because you're not getting any help. The announcer will at least provide the number and position of the batter, but again, make sure you're paying attention. This is a small thing that could be easily fixed. Needless to say, the impending upgrades can't come soon enough.
The city of Morgantown's population actually doubles whenever class is in session; so while the city is mainly the school, it's growing slowly. The WVU Coliseum (hosts WVU basketball), some university buildings and a hotel are the only thing within walking distance. There are a few good local restaurants that you could stop at before the game such as The Boston Beanery and Oliverio's, not to mention a ton of chain restaurants.
Recently, a very big shopping complex was built off the Star City exit (the exit you should use to get to the stadium off the highway) that has many restaurants along with some unique things like a self serve yogurt shop named Sweet Frog. There is also no shortage of bars and local restaurants on High Street, but be prepared to sit in traffic a while to get there if class is in session.
The fans you find at the field are exactly the kind of fans you think would be at a Mountaineer baseball game. The reason they're the type of fans you'd expect is because even after asking a few local residents from Morgantown; they could not even tell me where Hawley Field was located. Needless to say, you have to really like baseball to attend a WVU baseball game. The fans are smart and encouraging, which will add to a good experience.
Parking is available for free at the Coliseum parking lot, so it's a short walk to the field as well. Getting in and out of the parking lot is as easy or hard as getting through whatever traffic is in Morgantown the day of the game. Weekends and late evenings always have lighter traffic, but if you're trying to get around in the middle of the week while class is in, you might want to allow a little extra time. As was mentioned earlier, the population of Morgantown actually doubles when the college is in session, so the streets get tight very quickly.
There is one set of bathrooms at the field and there will be no problems getting in and out because attendance usually won't top 150. That being said, the bathrooms are really next to terrible and need to be updated even more than the rest of the field. They're functional, and that's about all you can say.
It may sound a little cheap, but with the current status of the stadium, the $5 ticket price is a little hard to swallow. The free parking and ability to bring in your own food helps but the overall feel of the games at Hawley Field feel like something that should have free admission. While it's hard to beat a Division I baseball game for $5, you truly don't get as much back for your money as you do at other stadiums in the area.
There is nothing additional or unique worth noting when attending a West Virginia baseball game at Hawley Field.
Hawley Field is long overdue for an upgrade, and it seems like Oliver Luck (who took over the as the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics in 2010), and the move to the Big 12 is exactly the proverbial kick in the pants that WVU needed to upgrade this field. While it doesn't seem like plans are set in stone, it seems inevitable that either major upgrades or an entirely new stadium is on its way for the Mountaineers. I hope in a few years I get to give a great report on a new Mountaineer baseball stadium.
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321 High St
Morgantown, WV 26505
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