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Official Review by Harrison Huntley, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Located just west of the famous Cameron Indoor Stadium, Jack Coombs Field has been home to Duke baseball since 1931. The field is named after coach Jack Coombs who was one of the most decorated baseball coaches in the school’s history.
Even though the program is not as well known as their basketball program, the Blue Devils have sent numerous players to the MLB including Chris Capuano and Marcus Stroman. The program got a huge upgrade in 2011 when the field was resurfaced with AstroTurf and a new indoor facility was added. Despite all the field renovations, however, the stadium itself has not seen the same improvement.
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 is only one food vendor at the park and that is a food truck parked in the stadium. The truck offers popcorn, hot dogs, peanuts, cracker jacks, candy, and chips. Unfortunately the offerings are slim, and the prices are higher than usual. Hot dogs are $3 and popcorn is $4. Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, and lemonade are the only drinks available and are priced at $4 as well.
Another drawback is that outside food is prohibited and bags are checked at the gate. Usually a stadium with less than expansive food offerings, allows fans to bring their own food to the ballgame. Unfortunately, this is not the case at Duke.
The surroundings are absolutely beautiful, but almost to a point where it doesn't feel like college baseball. Many tall pine trees surround the perfect, turf field. Entering the stadium, you will find that there is only a simple walkway that serves as a concourse.
There are only a few spots to sit at Jack Coombs Field. All tickets are general admission, but the front of the sections are chair back seats and the back is metal bleachers. The stadium faces northwest and in the evening, the sun can make the seating a little hot. Other than that, there is a large lawn area that is also open to fans.
It's an amazing place, but it doesn't exactly make you think college baseball. College baseball stadiums are usually much more focused on the team rather than the surroundings. In short, it's more like a park than a ballpark.
Jack Coombs Field is located in the athletic section of campus along with Cameron Indoor Stadium and Wallace Wade Stadium. This makes finding pre and post-game activities difficult. If you're looking for a post-game meal, your best bet is Duke's east campus. 9th Street runs right through east campus and is home to several local restaurants.
Another option is the famous Tobacco Road Sports Cafe. It has been featured as one of Stadium Journey's best college sports bars and is well known around the area. As an added bonus, it overlooks Durham Bulls Athletic Park completing the perfect sports scene.
Aside from the handful of Duke alumni, most of the fans are friends and family of the players. This is not bad, but does not add to the fan experience. You will not hear any chants or traditions like at Cameron Indoor Stadium. That being said, those in attendance are very nice and do know the game.
Unless you know the campus well, it's pretty easy to get lost at Duke. Your best bet is to use a GPS when trying to find the field. Parking is free in the small lot next to the field. There is a security check at the gate, but they are mostly looking for outside food and drink.
Restrooms are located behind the stands. They are a little hard to find, but there are no problems with them.
The one bright spot of the experience at Coombs Field is that tickets are just $5 and are general admission. The Blue Devils play a full slate of ACC games so you can see Miami, Georgia Tech, and many other nationally ranked programs for just $5. That's a steal in my book. The only thing that holds the return on investment back is the concession prices. A hot dog and a drink will cost you $7. Adding in your $5 ticket price brings the grand total to $12. That's a little overpriced considering what you get in return.
The hospitality staff offers free cups of water on hot days. Being a university renowned for its medical school, this should come as no surprise. Similar precautions are made at football games and should be a regular practice at all athletic venues in the South, and anywhere the weather is warm.
The game program is offered free at the entrance. While not an exhaustive program, it is still a nice gesture that keeps even the casual fan informed.
Finally, I'll give a point to the Duke athletic department for seeing that the team was in need of a better home field. A few years ago, Duke began playing some major home games at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, just down the street. The minor league park is a much more suitable park for ACC baseball. In short, I'm happy that the school saw a need and provided for it.
Almost everything in the park tells the same story. Jack Coombs Field is not a bad park by any means. I can name several Division I baseball programs that would kill for a home like this one. The fact is, however, Duke is an ACC school and if it wants to stay relevant with the likes of rivals UNC and NC State, the home field needs to be taken more seriously. The occasional shift over to Durham Bulls Athletic Park is a great start, but hopefully the real home of the Blue Devils gets treated the way it should.
Member Review by sportsroadtrips on May 24, 2014
Jack Coombs Field is a simple place like most college baseball stadiums, with no bells and whistles. There is a single seating area behind the plate, with 8 rows of box seats and then some benches, as you can see above. Next to this is a grass berm where fans can sit and enjoy an unobstructed view of the game.
There are two small concession stands offering pizza, hot dogs and popcorn as well as soda in souvenir cups. Prices were a little bit higher than I would have liked. The only history I noticed was a list of All-Americans and All-ACC players which is located between the two restrooms behind the stands. An odd place to celebrate your best.
There was a lacrosse game starting one hour after the first baseball game in a DH got underway and the baseball ticket, already a bargain at $5, could be used for that as well. A good way to spend the 45 minutes between the two baseball games, watching one of the best lacrosse teams in the country.
280 S Mangum St
Durham, NC 27701
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