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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Georgia College and State University (GCSU) is the Liberal Arts College for the Georgia University System. Located in Milledgeville, a small town in Central Georgia, the school was founded in 1889 and has a student body of about 7,000 students. GCSU offers 37 undergraduate programs and more than 25 graduate degrees. The largest programs are the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, the College of Education, and the College of Health Sciences.
The athletic programs of the school are members of the Peach Belt Conference (PBC), a non-football conference of schools located in Georgia, the Carolinas, Florida, and Alabama. The school mascot is a Bobcat. The Bobcat baseball program has been in existence since 1969 and has been very successful, winning 3 PBC Championships and participating in the Division II NCAA Tournament 12 times. The home ballpark for the Bobcats is John Kurtz Field, a 500-seat facility located at the university’s Sports Complex. Due to GCSU’s academic campus being in the center of downtown Milledgeville, all outdoor sports are located at a multi-field facility three miles from the main campus.
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".
Kurtz Field has one concession stand located under the bleachers. It has a rather limited set of food and drink offerings. These include Coca-Cola products in a can ($2), bottled water ($1.50), hot chocolate ($2), candy ($1), popcorn ($2), hot dogs ($2), peanuts ($1) and sunflower seeds ($1). Alcoholic beverages are not allowed at Kurtz Field.
Kurtz Field is part of a combination of college residence area, recreation, and intramural sports complex. This means that a large number of students simply bring their drinks and food with them to the games from their apartments. Also because the complex is a recreational area, there are many picnic pavilions available on the hill overlooking the baseball park, so people can picnic and watch the game at the same time. Many of the locals choose this option.
Kurtz Field is typical of many small college athletic facilities. The primary seating area is behind the backstop and consists of aluminum bench seating for approximately 500 fans. Members of the school booster club have reserved chair back seating immediately behind the backstop. The school has also used the contours of the land to minimize expenses, as the entire third base line area has a pleasantly sloping hill which offers a great vantage point to watch the game below.
Kurtz Field has a natural playing surface, with brick dugouts for each team. The field itself is symmetrical with 330 feet down the lines and 400 feet to dead center. The outfield fences are covered with advertising from local sponsors, as baseball is a non-revenue sport for GCSU. The scoreboard offers the basics of the game in progress and there is no replay or messaging capability.
The booster club does offer one promotion at each game, baseball bingo. Numbers are called out after each inning, with the winner receiving a free meal at a local restaurant.
To many people this description would merit a low rating. However, the experience at a GCSU Bobcat game allows you to focus strictly on the action on the playing field, not all the circus-like atmosphere found at some of the larger parks.
All of GCSU's outdoor sports facilities are located at a sports complex about three miles east of the academic campus which is located in downtown Milledgeville. The immediate area around Kurtz Field includes the Student Recreation Center, a softball field, a soccer field and the intramural sports fields. It also includes a number of residential buildings for GCSU students. A free shuttle runs between the academic campus and the sports complex every 15 minutes.
Before or after the game, you'll want to visit downtown Milledgeville, as it is the center for dining options, entertainment, and attractions. The academic campus fronts West Hancock Street and you will find a majority of the dining options within a block of the campus on the opposite side of the street.
Probably one of the longest running and most popular establishment is The Brick. It has a wide selection of food options and carries a wide variety of craft beers.
Another longtime college favorite is the Buffington's Burger Lounge next door. Its patrons are urged to "Eat in the Buff" (please do not take this literally!).
Other nearby dining options are GeorgiaBob's BBQ (HINT: try their banana pudding for dessert), Gringo's, and Café Amici.
The lodging district is just north of downtown along North Columbia Street. Brands include Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, and Holiday Inn Express. If you are an architecture or history buff, you will love Milledgeville (more on that in the Extra section below).
As is true at most smaller college baseball facilities, the typical fan you will find at a Bobcat game is either a family member or a classmate of a team member. When you arrive at Kurtz Field the parents tend to gravitate to the areas around the backstop. This is so they can encourage their child and even have a short conversation through the fence during the breaks in the action. This close proximity to the field also allows them to let the umpires know their opinions on questionable calls. Frankly, the parents take the game more seriously than the students.
Bobcat student body members turn out in large numbers to support their classmates. Many live in the student housing adjacent to the field and games on weekdays do not start until 3pm, so they are typically through with their classes for the day. Even though there is bleacher seating for 500 available, the students prefer to stretch out on the hillside overlooking the field. This gives an excellent view of the game, but it also allows for plenty of socializing with their friends.
Both sets of fans do come together when a Bobcat rally happens. Whenever the home team scores a Bobcat roar is played over the speaker system. Since many of the teams in the Peach Belt Conference are geographically close there is often some good natured ribbing between competing fans.
Milledgeville is located approximately 120 miles southeast of Atlanta and 60 miles east of Macon. The quickest access from these population centers is as follows: From Atlanta take I-20 east to the Highway 441 exit then take 441 all the way down to Milledgeville (approximately 40 miles from the interstate); From Macon take exit #2 on I-16 going east onto Highway 49. Highway 49 takes you into Milledgeville and you would turn left onto the 441 Bypass. The sports complex will be the first street on your left. It is extremely well marked.
Free parking is available immediately adjacent to Kurtz Field. The field is built at the base of a hill, but those unable to climb stairs up into the bleachers can take a gentle descending sidewalk and sit at field level right behind the backstop. There is one other unique option if your car has a handicap sticker. Officials will allow you to drive to a small parking area atop the hill overlooking the field along the third base line. This actually provides an excellent vantage point to watch the game from your car.
A trip to a Bobcat baseball game is very affordable for the whole family. There is no admission charged at Kurtz Field and the parking is free as well. Concessions, though sparse, are very reasonably priced. Lodging in the area runs in the $70- $80 range and there is a wide variety of restaurants in the area that are reasonably priced as they primarily serve the college student population.
Milledgeville served as the state capitol of Georgia from 1803 -1863. Fortunately the area is big on historic preservation, and Sherman did not burn it down! Our first extras are significant buildings from that era that are still standing. The Old Governor's Mansion, built in 1839, is on Clarke Street and offers daily tours. The Governor's Mansion later became the first building on the GCSU campus in 1889. Just a few blocks east of the mansion is the Old Capitol Building, built in 1807. Its very distinctive look is due to its status as the first public building in the United States to use Gothic architecture.
If you are into water related sports, the area is home to both Lake Sinclair for boating and fishing, as well as the Oconee River, which features greenway walking trails as well as kayaking opportunities.
If literature is of interest to you, author Flannery O'Connor lived and wrote all her novels in Milledgeville. Amongst the Milledgeville sites related to O'Connor are Andalusia (her home), the Flannery O'Connor Room, (a museum dedicated to her life and her books), and her gravesite, which is located in Memory Hill Cemetery.
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136 W Hancock St
Milledgeville, GA 31061
120 W Hancock St
Milledgeville, GA 31061
221 N Clarke St
Milledgeville, GA 31061
1839 N Columbia St
Milledgeville, GA 31061