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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
Cornell has one of the more scenic campuses in the United States. The rolling hills, beautiful vistas, mix of modern and historic buildings, and active college town make for an enjoyable visit regardless of the sport you may be following.
The Cornell Big Red baseball team is part of the Ivy League and plays at David F. Hoy Field, located on central campus in the shadow of the football facility, Schoellkopf Field. The ball field is named for a graduate of the class of 1891, who also lends his name to the Cornell Fight Song, Give My Regards to Davy.
Baseball has been played on this site since 1922, although the current look of the ballpark is a result of renovations completed in 2007. At that time, FieldTurf was installed, the playing field was re-orientated, and new dugouts, grandstand, and a press box were all installed. The result is a cozy little park with few perks and seating for 500 spectators.
While Hoy Field can hardly be described as a must-see venue, it certainly makes for an enjoyable afternoon if the weather is nice and you find yourself along the Southern Tier of New York.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are no concessions offered at Hoy Field, and fans are allowed to bring in their own food and drink if they would like. There is a Gimme Coffee location that opened in 2014 inside the nearby Bill & Melinda Gates Hall, which is a beautiful modern building located along the first base side of the field. Otherwise, your only option is to bring your own snacks and/or beverages.
Overall Hoy Field provides a very laid back and simple atmosphere in order to watch a college baseball game. All of the seating is located in the grandstand. There is one section with seven rows of gray chair back seats. If you sit the back row (Row G) toward the third base side (seat 15) you can hear the radio play-by-play from the press box, which is a nice added bonus. The remainder of the 400 or so seats can be found on silver metal bleachers, which provide above average leg room. Your only chance for limited shade would be in the back row of the bleachers on the third base side.
Some fans choose to tailgate directly from the adjoining parking garage (176 Hoy Rd). From the top deck you can have a bird's eye view of the action on the field below, while perhaps partaking in a cold beer if it is a warm spring day.
There is netting that obstructs the view of the entire grand stand. Some fans choose to stand or sit along the baselines, and there are a few permanent benches in between the field and Gates Hall. Fans may also choose to bring their own chairs and sit along the baselines. The scoreboard provides only the basic information needed to follow along with the game.
There are no lights at Hoy Field, so if you're headed to a game, you can be sure that it will be an afternoon start time. There are no promotions during the game, with limited music and straightforward announcements from the PA. The focus here is on the baseball game alone.
Cornell has a lovely campus, and the baseball field is located just up the hill from the area of Ithaca known as CollegeTown. Here you'll find several bars and casual restaurants, including a nice variety of Asian cuisine including Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Indian food. Koko's, located on College Avenue, presents affordable and authentic Korean food, but gets very busy at lunch time, so consider going a little earlier or later than the typical lunch hour.
Downtown, you should make a stop in to the Ithaca Ale House. They serve burgers and sandwiches with additional specials that elevate the standard pub food a bit. On the night of my visit they were serving lobster mac & cheese which was very good indeed, along with a great selection of beers on tap. It's a friendly environment with plenty of TVs to stay on top of the day's sporting events.
Another recommendation is Agava, which serves somewhat upscale and inventive Mexican food, along with a solid selection of beers and cocktails. The rustic and hip interior with separate bar and dining areas is a good place to spend some time, although the restaurant can get busy on Friday and Saturday nights. They also boast that they serve "farm-to-table food," and where possible source their ingredients from local producers.
There is a hotel on the Cornell campus, the Statler Hotel, which is located just across the street from Hoy Field. Many of the staff at the hotel are students who are studying hospitality in the School of Hotel Administration. However, rates are very expensive. The Hilton Garden Inn is about 1-2 miles from Cornell. More budget conscious choices can be found in downtown Ithaca (Hampton Inn, Comfort Inn), but in general hotels are rather expensive within close proximity of Cornell.
Nature lovers may consider visiting the Ithaca Waterfalls or Robert Tremen State Park to experience some of the natural beauty the area has to offer. Consider visiting the Hangar Theatre or the Johnson Museum of Art if you would like some culture. You're also in New York wine country, so consider a visit to one of the local wineries.
It's unlikely that you'll see a packed house when attending a Cornell game at Hoy Field. You should be able to find the seat you want. Cornell fans are relatively subdued and are friendly. Because many of Cornell's opponents are found within the region, you will also find several fans of the visiting team at games.
Getting to Ithaca and Cornell will generally mean driving some winding and hilly roads, but it is a beautiful journey regardless of what direction you may be coming from. There is a large parking garage located next door to the ballpark. If you park on the bottom level you can step right from the garage into the park. If you park on the top level, then you may choose to just sit above the action for a unique perspective. The parking garage is for "permit only" from 7:30am-5pm Monday-Friday. If you come for a weekday game, then stop at one of the information booths on campus to get a guest parking pass.
When driving on the Cornell campus, be aware that there is a lot of foot and bicycle traffic. Take your time, and be aware of crosswalks.
If you're staying in Ithaca, then you can take a bus (T-CAT) to the Cornell campus. Routes 83 and 92 have stops nearest Hoy Field at the corner of Campus Rd and Eden Ave. If you're flying in, then Tompkins Regional Airport is your nearest choice, served by Delta, United, and US Airways.
Restrooms are a little difficult to find. Your closest option is to take the steps up to Campus Road (behind the grandstand) and use the restroom inside the Belkin Squash Courts building. They may be inconvenient, but it's better than a port-a-pottie like you may find at many other northeast college ballparks.
Admission is free and parking is free. There are no concession stands, nor is there any merchandise for sale at a baseball game at Hoy Field. It may not cost you a penny to see a game at Cornell, but you get what you pay for. That is, a very bare bones but enjoyable experience, especially if you just want to sit back and enjoy a day of baseball.
A free program is available with a color cover photo, rosters for both teams, and some notes about the series you're seeing which is actually fairly nice.
Cornell is truly one of the loveliest college campuses that you'll see. It's hard not to fall in love with the town and the school.
Finally, an extra point for the great view of both the field and the surrounding area that can be found from the top level of the parking garage, truly one of the best vantage points in college baseball.
Cornell baseball at Hoy Field is a good example of what the sport is like in this part of the country. On a cold day, only the true baseball diehards would want to see a game here, but if you get a warm spring day, then the chance to meander around the beautiful campus, see some baseball, and explore the town makes this a very worthwhile trip.
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