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Official Review by Scott Bultman, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Hayden Field has been home to the Xavier University baseball team since the 1920’s. Though the sport of baseball has changed and evolved over the years, this park has kept the charm and ambience over all these years. Cincinnati has been a baseball town since the mid 1860’s and Hayden Field provides a small time feel that is a refreshing contrast to other facilities around Cincy.
The ballpark is named for J. Page Hayden who made a sizable donation to realize a renovation completed in 1982.
Hayden Field is a dream for dead pull hitters with measurements of just 310 feet down both lines, and 380 feet to center field.
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Hayden Field offers the basic needs for sports fans when it comes to food and beverage. Fans wanting a meal will have to make due with a basic hot dog and chips or popcorn. Fans wanting snacks will have their choice of popcorn, candy, or chips for a dollar or two. The options are simple but the fans are here to watch the game and not for the extras. Since there are no ticket takers due to free admission, fans can bring any type of food here without issue.
There is a booth that is tantalizing to fans but is marked students only. It has BBQ sandwiches, corn on the cob, and fixings. They are strict on the students only rule as they ask for ID.
Beer is sold here for $3-$5 depending on the brew. For a basic baseball stadium, this is a nice surprise. 20oz Coca-Cola products are sold for $2.
There's not much actual structure to Hayden Field, it's really just set into a valley surrounded by the Xavier campus on the hills above. There are metal bleachers behind home plate where the grass playing field is lined by a nice brick backstop, in keeping with the rest of the campus architecture. From the bleachers and the first base line, you get a nice vista of the campus buildings, which tower over the field from across Victory Parkway. The outfield is framed in by the road along left field, and butts up against the brick wall of the university recreation center along right field.
The fans here seem to amble in to watch a baseball game. The crowd consists mostly of students and parents or family members of the team. The between inning entertainment mostly consists of campus information. This is a refreshing change from places that try too hard.
Xavier University is in the neighborhood of Evanston in Cincinnati, about 10 minutes north of downtown. The field sits on the west side of the campus, along the convenient north-south route, Victory Parkway. If you want places to eat or bars, then turn right from Victory Parkway and you need to go east on nearby Dana Avenue. That will take you to Montgomery Road and its collection of restaurants like Betta's Italian Oven, whose pizza is highly regarded, or Gordo's Pub, which has one of the best hamburgers in the city.
Further north on Montgomery in the neighborhood of Norwood, there are local chains like La Rosa's Pizzeria, Skyline Chili, as well as fast food options. If in Cincinnati, I recommend trying Skyline or Gold Star Chili. You will get a good dish that won't break your wallet and give you a true taste of the Queen City.
At Xavier, basketball is the top sport, so that's where the attention is for fans for the most part. A baseball game brings out modest crowds and just a handful of students. The nice thing is, although the crowds are small, people are very friendly and chat with each other throughout the game. Along the first base line, you'll notice a number of fans bring folding chairs and can sit right along the foul line. Some people even bring their dogs out. You'll also see fans set out blankets and sit on the hill across Victory Parkway, which overlooks the field. All this makes for a friendly and even "cozy" experience.
The Xavier campus sits in Evanston, a neighborhood about 10 minutes north of downtown Cincinnati, near Interstate-71. The campus is also easily accessed from either major highway in Cincinnati via the Norwood Lateral highway. Hayden Field sits along Victory Parkway. Watch for signs closely as the baseball stadium isn't advertised. Pay attention to signs directing fans to the sporting complex instead.
Parking may be an issue as there is really only one public lot nearby, and it's shared by the soccer field and university recreation center. If there happens to be big events going on simultaneously, you're going to have to hunt for a spot. Watch carefully for signs if trying to park on the street. Most require permits so you only have a shot at the adjacent lot for free parking. However, that lot is spacious and you shouldn't have a problem parking there.
Your investment for this experience will most likely be free of charge across the board. Admission is free, parking is free, and you can bring your own food in. What could be better that that? On top of all this, programs are free and seating is general admission.
The fans being able to relax on the lawn across from the stadium gives the park a casual feel, a nice place to bring a blanket, and some snacks while you relax and watch a game. Also, the architecture of the Xavier campus frames the ballpark beautifully and makes for a nice setting, despite there not being much structure to the ballpark itself.
This is an impressive college venue and a must see for college baseball fans. Xavier may not have the championship history of other college baseball teams, but the stadium has a great backdrop and is part of a beautiful collegiate campus. The free admission and ability to have great views make this a great place to visit for college baseball fans.
Member Review by cadence80 on Apr 05, 2012
Baseball has been played in this location in Cincinnati’s Evanston neighborhood for well over 90 years. Clearly, baseball history in Cincinnati runs much deeper than just the Reds and Great American Ball Park. Xavier baseball offers the Cincinnati sports fan something a bit different than their major league neighbors, or even their crosstown rivals, the Cincinnati Bearcats and Marge Schott Stadium: A basic experience that showcases the game. Even though it’s Division I college baseball, it feels like you’re watching a game in a community park. If you want a low-stress, inexpensive baseball experience, then this might be a good place for you.
4702 Montgomery Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45212
4588 Montgomery Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45212
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