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Official Review by Samuel Watkins, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Krenzler Field is home of the Cleveland State University men’s and women’s soccer teams and boasts one of the most picturesque skyline views in all of sports. Located in the heart of downtown Cleveland with skyscraper views planted behind, Krenzler Field proudly stands in the shadows of the new Monte Ahuja College of Business and CSU Student Center.
Seating 1,680 and built in 1985 at a cost of $1.9 million, it was the first outdoor athletic venue at the university. Recently renovated with an infusion of $2.9 million, Krenzler Field is now a year-round multi-purpose athletic facility. In addition to permanently installing a FieldTurf surface, a removable air-supported dome is added in the winter months to serve as an indoor practice facility for all sports.
Recognizing the advantage of year-round facilities in the Midwest, Cleveland State University again is going the way of the dome, this time with a $1.4 million renovation plan to cover the school’s six tennis courts. Providing heat, air, and insulation, the installed dome will be named the Medical Mutual Tennis Pavilion, who gifted appropriate funds.
Playing in the Horizon League and featuring a roster of 16 homegrown players, a night with the Cleveland State University men’s soccer team is a fun time for any local soccer fan. It is also a great stop to make when visiting any of the other Northeast Ohio sports venues as it is adjacent to everything in downtown Cleveland.
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".
The one concession area is located on the south side of the grandstand and is visible upon entering the Chester Avenue gate. The informal stand consists of two folding tables and a grill. The hot dogs are a steal at $2 and are grilled instead of boiled, which is always a nice touch. Additionally, hot coffee, bottled water, candy, and peanuts fill out the minimal lineup.
While bleachers populate the east side of the field, the west side is filled with a view of the skyscrapers of downtown Cleveland. Truly unique, this backdrop is a constant reminder of the urban setting of Cleveland State University and provides a unique home field advantage as the winds whip off the shore of Lake Erie in late fall.
The field itself is sunken down, allowing for great aerial views from any row of the stands. With roughly 12 rows of metal bleacher seating, there is not a bad seat to be had. On cooler days with high winds, stay lower to the ground, otherwise, head to the top of the section and enjoy the urban backdrop. Team benches are on the other side of the field facing the grandstand, which is another measure taken to ensure fans are as close to the action as possible.
The scoreboard displays time, score, half, and shots on goal, and is planted across from the grandstand on the right (northwest side) of the stadium. The in-game audio system plays upbeat college music pre-game and during play stoppages.
Cleveland State University resides on the edge of the heartbeat of downtown Cleveland and has worked tirelessly on improving the infrastructure of the school. With more students living on and adjacent to campus, more and more restaurants and bars are popping up.
Euclid Avenue is one block south of Krenzler Field and is home to a small strip of food options. Rascal House Pizza, which features $2 slices of pizza, and J.B. Mack, a custom macaroni and cheese restaurant, fall in the category of fast casual food. Jimmy John's and Subway are quick and easy sandwich spots. Burgers 2 Beer is a newly opened bar/restaurant and the name says it all. Do yourself a favor and try the Luther, a burger served on a glazed donut. A couple blocks closer to the city center is Playhouse Square, home of a few more upscale dining options.
Traffic on the Cleveland State campus, both on foot and in the streets, is heaviest during rush hours. However, the school's security seems to be constantly patrolling the area on foot and in car. An added point of safety is the blue-lit emergency stations plotted through campus.
Few but mighty, supporters of the Vikings soccer teams are loyal and knowledgeable. However, the Viking soccer team appears to be missing the overt passion when compared to the more 'club' like followings found elsewhere in the country.
A nice gesture was the CSU players throwing mini soccer balls to the fans in the crowd before taking the pitch. The white ball with green CSU logo is a nice souvenir for any soccer fan.
Krenzler Field is located between E. 18th and E. 19th Streets, between Payne and Chester Avenues in downtown Cleveland. In the heart of the CSU campus, the facility is only a 12-15 city block walk to downtown.
Unless a major event is happening in downtown Cleveland and specifically at Playhouse Square, plenty of free parking can be found on the streets after 5pm and on weekends. A central parking garage is adjacent to the field and prices vary depending on day of the week and other local events.
Public bus transportation on RTA's HealthLine can get you to the game from the heart of Cleveland's downtown as this bus goes from Public Square down Euclid Avenue. Just as easy, Uber is a $5 cab ride from all social hot spots, hotels, and other sports venues in downtown Cleveland.
The one grandstand facing the west and downtown Cleveland has entry points from the north and south ends of the concourse. The one restroom is located close to the E. 19th and Payne Avenue facility opening and is handicap accessible.
Considering tickets to see the Cleveland Cavaliers, Lake Erie Monsters (AHL), and even Cleveland State men's basketball all start at $10, the $7 adult ticket price tag for admission does not match the value of the experience, although youth and senior tickets are $5. Children under 5, faculty, and students get free admission.
The alternative and aforementioned Cleveland sporting events are experiences with activities for the kids, merchandise stores, alternative seating, and varied concession options. Soccer at Krenzler Field lacks in all three of the areas with only the game being featured. Cleveland State men's basketball adopted a '216 Hoopy Hour' for all weekday home games during the 2014-2015 season. The clever marketing takes the 216 Cleveland area code and chops it up to $2 food items, $1 draft beers, and $6 game tickets. When compared, admission to the soccer game is the same as a ticket to the men's basketball game and a free draft beer!
The view of the downtown Cleveland skyline cannot be understated and deserves an extra point. Fans of soccer in Cleveland will recognize the name of the team's head coach, Ali Kazemaini. This tie to the past also warrants an extra notch for Krenzler Field and the Vikings. Finally, the free program is a nice touch. In addition to rosters for both teams, a schedule, news and standings also accompany the freebie.
Krenzler Field is donned with Vikings colors, branding, and Magnus, the Vikings mascot. Celebrating recent success on the field, the 2012 Horizon League Championship banner is displayed proudly on the north end of the field. Greg Murphy, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications, fuels the social presence of all Vikings athletics teams on Twitter with news, updates, and reminders.
Krenzler Field and CSU soccer should be on the list of stops for any die hard soccer fan or sports enthusiast who loves a good backdrop to a game. However, while Cleveland State University basketball at the Wolstein Center has become a 'must do' for collegiate athletics in Northeast Ohio, the soccer experience is not up to this standard...yet. Upgraded concession offerings, a heightened in-game presentation, and merchandise kiosks would offer immediate improvement in the experience at Krenzler Field.
Cleveland State University has undergone a tremendous renaissance in recent years. A successful campaign to eliminate the 'commuter school' reputation is in motion, including new student residences, off-campus housing, student center, and education buildings. Viking athletics has joined this revival with upgraded facilities for their teams. Hopefully Krenzler Field is next on the list to be refreshed.
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