On the banks of what looks and feels like a quiet, lazy river, Lake Olmstead Stadium is a quiet, peaceful ballpark. It comes with all the basics and a few clever additions which make it unique to the area. Just down the road from the famed golf course of Augusta National, a quiet evening or afternoon to see an Augusta GreenJackets game is well worth your time.
Lake Olmstead Stadium has been the home of the GreenJackets since the 1995 season, although Augusta has fielded a team in the South Atlantic League since 1988. Built primarily as a baseball facility, Lake Olmstead Stadium has been transformed by the GreenJackets into a versatile entertainment center for Augusta and the surrounding communities. With a seating capacity of 4,822, it is the third smallest ballpark in the sixteen-team league. What it lacks in pizzazz, it makes up for with southern charm.
The stadium has nearly 1,000 box seats, 830 reserved seats and over 2,500 general admission seats. In 2006, the Budweiser Party Pavilion was built down the right field line. This new area can host picnics for as little as 20 people to as many as 500 people. You might also find players hitting extra batting practice just behind this picnic area.
Since 2006 Lake Olmstead Stadium has seen a renovation of the Kid's Zone, the construction of the Cintas Cool Zone and the installation of six huge industrial fans in the rafters which provide comfort for those hot and humid afternoons and evenings.
Going on its 20th year and the franchise’s 25th season, Lake Olmstead Stadium has been nicely kept and modernized in many ways. It contains many little touches which make you forget it is an older ballpark that has some age on it. You can tell the team and staff appreciate fans who come to the games. You will feel like a guest in their home during your visit.
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 are several concession areas at Lake Olmstead Stadium and you will find them just as you get inside the front gate. On more heavily-attended games, you will find a few food and drink stands along the concourse boarding the stadium complex perimeter alongside the stands and just inside the gate which surrounds the entire ballpark.
First, let's get through the regular ballpark staples, things you would expect served within one-hundred feet of any diamond.
In the way of fountain drinks, small sodas are $3.50 while a large one is $5. The GreenJackets serve Coca-Cola products, not too unexpected given Augusta's proximity to Atlanta, the soft drink company's headquarters. Bottled water is $3.50 and Powerade is $4.
For beer lovers, small, medium and large are $4, $6 and $8 respectively. The GreenJackets serve Budweiser, Michelob, Miller Lite, PBR and Killian's. As with most minor league parks, expect to show your ID at an armband station to prove you are of age to drink alcohol and then show this armband when ordering.
For main courses, hot dogs are $3.60, but add bacon to it for just $0.40 more. Bratwursts are $4.50. Hamburgers are $4.50, but add a dime to get a slice of cheese added to it.
Baskets are available which include things like cheeseburgers and BBQ sandwiches and chips. The sandwiches are also sold separately. If you order a basket, you can add a regular size soda for just $2.50.
Roasted or boiled peanuts are $4.25 while Cracker Jacks are $3.25. Popcorn, small and large, is just $3.25 and $5.00 respectively. French fries, onion rings and the always tasty sweet potato fries are $3.30 each.
Consider attending a game on a Monday which is "Feed Your Face" Day enabling you to eat all you can from a prescribed tasty menu. The feeding frenzy begins at 6 PM until the end of the 6th inning.
See photos of the complete menu and the "Feed Your Face" Day special menu in the photo gallery.
The field at Lake Olmstead Stadium is quaint, probably a few steps up from a municipal field, but with some added touches which make it worth seeing. Like many A-ball stadiums, there are some box seats, but the majority of the seats are bleachers seats, those with benches and chair backs, but part of one continuous row with no individual seats, cup holders, etc.
As you gaze out to the field from behind home plate, you will see a home run wall at a distance of 330 feet down both lines with straightaway center field at 400 feet. The team plays on beautiful, well-kept grass. There is no dirt strip from the mound to home plate, but the territory between the bases which separate infield from outfield are laden in dirt.
Take a peek at the wall in left center field where you will find the markings of .366 with the word "COBB" underneath it, both in bright yellow. This reflects Hall of Fame ballplayer Ty Cobb's lifetime batting average, a major league record to this day AND the distance from home plate to this point, a clever touch to an area rich in history. It is rumored the Georgia native played in the area.
Pitch speed can be monitored just to the left of the "COBB" sign. Team, state and US flags are behind the 400 mark in center field and the large scoreboard, the primary source for in-game statistics minus a video replay board, is in right center field.
The home run wall measures 8 feet high and the out-of-play area tapers close to the foul line as it approaches wall. The press box is atop the reserved seating area between sections 6 and 7. Sadly, you have to listen to the game through streaming audio online as the team does not have an AM or FM station providing coverage.
The visitor dugout is on the third base side with their bullpen taking up the in-play, foul area of left field. The home dugout is on the first base side with the out-of-play bullpen protected with a short-wall down the right field line. The wall dividing fair play and foul play measures four feet high. Both dugouts are sunken below field level adding to the appeal of the box seats being right on top of the field.
The six rows of box seats ($15 each on Monday, $12 Tue-Sun) are nice with some of the sections closest to home plate and allow you to order food service from a dedicated server. These sections are noted by letter with "A" being the furthest into right field and "K" being the furthermost into left field. Section "F" is directly behind home plate.
Although these seats provide a great vantage point to enjoy the action, they do not provide coverage from rain. Still, there is no concourse traffic to obstruct your view and the location provides easy access to restrooms and the outer concourse.
Reserved seats ($12 each on Monday, $10 Tue-Sun) sit a little higher and behind the box seats and inner concourse. Sections 5-8 house these seats and feature a steep pitch allowing for clear views even with fans seated directly in front of your row.
General admission seats ($11 on Monday, $8 Tue-Sun) are on the right field side of section 8 and the left field side of section 5. These sections provide a long, continuous bench with a long continuous chair back the length of the row. Some folks like these seats because it provides room to spread out even if it does not provide a cup holder.
These general admission seats are the best buy, but make sure you choose sections behind one of the dugouts and within rows 3-6. In terms of rows, in reserved or general admission seats, consider 1-6 which will have no obstructed views due to structural posts. However, if you want to count on overhead coverage in the event of rain, consider rows 3-6 which get you unobstructed views AND coverage from rain. Rows 3-15 have coverage from rain, the latter row being the highest row in the ballpark with high views of Lake Olmstead just outside the facility.
Special groups receive lower prices for all games. Seniors/Military and Children (4-12) are $11 on Monday and $6 Tue-Sun. Children 3 & under are $1.00 for all games.
All tickets are $1 more for all fans who attend games which feature fireworks shows (including 4th of July).
There is no seating in the home run area behind the outfield wall, what some may call true bleacher seats. The area is covered with a double row of large billboard advertisements.
Party areas can be found down the right field line just on the other side of general admission. A family area with things for young kids to enjoy can be found down the left field line on the other side of the general admission area. These activities include a bounce house, batting cage and speed pitch.
There is not much to the neighborhood at Lake Olmstead Stadium. Don't plan on getting close or actually at the stadium and walk around for a place to eat. It is a serene atmosphere along the banks of the lake and you can park right along the street in front of the ballpark and enjoy it.
In downtown Augusta there is a wealth of neat restaurants to check out, but the consensus picks seem to be the Boll Weevil (American and casual at 10 Ninth Street Plaza) and T-Bonz (steakhouse on main strip Washington Rd.).
Beyond regular sit-down, great barbecue can be had at Edmund's, and the unusual fusion of German and Italian at Villa Europa is intriguing. Also, expect a location of any favorite chain, too: It's not all for mint-julep-sippers.
While the fans in Augusta enjoy their baseball, there is nothing that separates them from ordinary fans. They are well-behaved and cheer their team, but there are no traditions, fans with longevity worth seeing or memories worth keeping to tell anyone about.
If you approach from the West, you will go through the roads which run right in front of Augusta National. Around the stadium, though, lock your doors and keep your windows up at night. There typically is very little if no congestion around the ballpark so you should count on ease in your travel before and after the game.
Bathrooms are spacious and plentiful behind both general admission areas, outside the seating areas adjacent to the outer concourse. They are clean and well-kept.
If you make an effort to visit the southern baseball circuit, this should be on your list if for no other reason than the quaintness of the ballpark on the lake and subtle touches which make a visit worthwhile.
Ticket prices are very much in line with A-ball teams and the added benefits and promotions will have you walking away feeling you gained your money's worth.
The GreenJackets have a nice entertainment offering with a 25-year tradition of churning out great baseball and star players. Although now a San Francisco Giants affiliate, names like Kevin Youkilis, Tim Wakefield, Aramis Ramirez and Bronson Arroyo adorn the outer façade. As well-kept as Lake Olmstead Stadium is, a new ballpark is being discussed for the downtown area of the city.
Promotions are the lifeblood of a successful minor league team and the GreenJackets have things covered.
Monday is Feed Your Face day allowing fans to eat all they can from 6 PM until the end of the 6th inning by just adding $4 to their ticket price. Choose from an array of items listed on a game-day menu, a photo of which appears in the gallery of this review.
Tuesday is 2-for-Tuesday Drink Specials. Wednesday is BI-LO Baseball Bingo. Thursday is Thirsty Thursday with $1 draft beer. Friday is Fireworks Friday (tickets are $1 more on these games). Saturday is Family Fun Night. Sunday is Kids Fun Day.
There are also many giveaway nights which include t-shirts, team caps, fan towels and bobble head statues. These premium items are always limited to the first 1,000 fans.
The programs, a 5x7 size souvenir, are free and available as you walk in the front gate. They are updated with current information for the next few home stands. If you like updated statistics, pay a visit to the merchandise store just inside the front gate and straight ahead as you enter.
As far as merchandise, nothing really stood out in the store. On my visit a few weeks into the 2013 season, the team was out of souvenir logo balls with the GreenJackets logo. They arrived a month later, but you would have thought they would have been available opening day. They weren't.
Parking is free and ensures a very short walk to the only entrance behind home plate. You can park in a field on the first base side or along the street which surrounds the stadium behind home plate and border the banks of Lake Olmstead.
If you know Augusta, GA for the PGA Tour's Masters Tournament and only the Masters, you're not alone. Here sits a young man born and raised in the same state as said city, a mere two-and-a-half hours away, who (prior to a week ago) had never seen anything but the greens of the Augusta National Golf Club on a TV screen.
And that, readers, is a shame. Not only is Augusta a perfectly pretty mid-size town on the border of South Carolina, it's also home to Cal Ripken, Jr.'s very own minor league club, the Giants South Atlantic League affiliate, Augusta GreenJackets, an organization that replicates old-time small-town baseball better than anywhere I've been so far.
Lake Olmstead Stadium is a newish ballpark that doesn't feel like a "new" park. And I mean this in a good way - despite being built in '95, they didn't follow the new ballpark template that has been so prevalent over the last couple decades. It may not have all the amenities that some fans want, but for a baseball fan like me, it works just fine. The atmosphere is pretty laid back, the concessions are affordable and tasty, and the setting is quite serene. Unfortunately, Augusta is already considering building another new park for the Green Jackets. Of course this would just be for the owners, who obviously can't squeeze any more money out of "outdated" Lake Olmstead Stadium. For my full review of Augusta's quaint ballpark, you can check it out on ballparkreviews.com.
Augusta is your prototypical Minor League town. A small city with a relatively small venue to house a low class Minor League ball team. The team name is catchy, much like other Minor League names, and how they do baseball here is done well, epecially given the history.
Overall a nice place to go watch a game.
FOOD/BEVERAGE: The website seemed to post a limited menu, but when I got there, there were more options for foods, such as popcorn chicken, popcorn shrimp, pulled pork sandwiches, etc. The food overall is fine and tasty (go for the chicken fingers & fries; can't go wrong).
ATMOSPHERE: It does have a minor league vibe to it and it is very laid back here.
NEIGHBORHOOD: Across the street from Lake Olmstead, a public park. There is nothing anywhere near for foods & eats as you get away from the park, you are in projects. I was a little baffled they would put the park in that location.
FANS: They were into the game, though it felt like there were more Savannah Sand Gnats fans in the crowd. But a lot of fans here know their baseball.
ACCESS: You are well off I-20 to get to the park. And you are a healthy distance away from "downtown" Augusta. But once you get near the Masters, signs will lead you to the stadium so it isn't a big problem.
ROI: A couple of tickets behind home plate gets you $12 each, and food prices are pretty low which surprised me given the varied amounts of food they had. Plus, free and "easy" parking. Fridays and Saturdays were more expensive for tickets however.
EXTRAS: The employees here made you feel very welcomed and were one of the friendliest bunches at any venue. Could upgrade the scoreboard however.
There's really not much unique here. The park is nice enough and the views are all great. Probably the only true unique item is the upgraded box seats get waitress service during the game. Prices are reasonable if not a little bit cheap. But I was disappointed that their bar and table area is reservation only even on their beer special nights and the only southern food on the menu is the boiled peanuts. It's really just your completely generic average minor league park with very few frills or dissapointments.
Feed your face Mondays are a pretty good deal.
10 Ninth St
Augusta, GA 30901
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