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Official Review by Brandon Gee, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
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.
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Hayden Field offers little in the way of food choices, there's a cart they wheel in to serve basic snacks and drinks at good prices. However, you're probably better off just bringing food with you. I don't think it's explicitly stated that it's okay, but I saw many people do this and the Xavier officials around the field did nothing to discourage it.
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.
If you're a baseball fan, but sometimes don't want the hassles of parking and lines for everything you want to do or see, you may want to check out Hayden Field. This is a "pure" baseball experience: no mascots, no gimmicks, no luxury seating options, no upscale food. If you're here, you just want to watch a game, and there's something to be said for that.
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 Larosa's Pizzeria, Skyline Chili, as well as fast food options.
At Xavier, basketball is the top sport, so that's where the attention is for the most part. A baseball game here 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. As well, you'll see fans set out blankets and sit on the hill across Victory Parkway, which overlooks the field. All this makes for a friendly, if not "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 and getting to the field is pretty painless. 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. Parking is free of charge.
No charge for seats or parking, you can't beat that for Division I baseball. Snacks were modestly priced or you can just bring your own food and drinks. If you just want a simple, leisurely day of watching baseball, this is a good trip.
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.
In Cincinnati, Xavier is often the most overlooked entity in the Cincinnati sports scene. Despite Cincinnati's place in baseball history with the Reds, college baseball in this town is also often overlooked. If you want a change of pace from the major league experience and just want to see a game free of all the pomp and circumstance, Xavier is a good choice.
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3764 Montgomery Rd
Norwood, OH 45212
4702 Montgomery Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45212
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