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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
Lee R. Jackson Field is the home of Akron Zips baseball. The facility opened in 1967, although the field was moved to its present location in 1972. The school’s website lists the seating capacity at 1,500, but “seating” is a bit of a misnomer. There are currently two sets of bleachers on either side of home plate behind the backstop. They could probably fit 100 people total if folks scrunched together.
Most fans choose to bring their own chair or blanket and find space near the sidewalk on the small hill that runs along the left field side of the venue. If the soccer stadium, FirstEnergy Stadium, is open next door, then you can climb to the top of the bleachers and have a bird’s eye view of the game down below.
Overall, it’s a simple presentation for a team that has not had a lot of success on the diamond. The program has one Mid-American Conference (MAC) tournament championship, which also resulted in an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. That came in 1996. It’s doubtful that you can name a former Akron player who went on to the Major Leagues. Still, this is an affordable and friendly college baseball experience.
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You'll find a better than average concession variety at a stand shared with the soccer venue, FirstEnergy Stadium. Try the Italian Sausage, which is very good served in a bun that is soft without being mushy. The overall variety may not blow you away, but it is better than most college baseball venues in the region.
Other options include hot dogs ($3), soft pretzels ($3.50), nachos ($4), and popcorn ($3). Soft drinks are Coke products served in 20-ounce bottles ($3) along with Powerade ($3.50), Dasani water ($3/$5), and coffee and hot chocolate for those cooler early season games ($3).
If you approach Jackson Field without a chair flung across your back, then you may feel a little out of place. The majority of fans attending the game will have a fold-up chair set up along the third base side on the hill, or they may lay out a blanket. There are a couple of sets of bleachers, but very few fans sit here. If you want a more interesting perspective, climb up the stands in the nearby FirstEnergy Stadium, home of Akron Zips soccer, and you can get an overhead perspective of the baseball game (although you'll have to stand to watch the game from this perch).
It is a very basic game day presentation here. There are a couple of unique quirks. One of which is both bullpens (visitors on third base side and Akron on the first base side) offer separate platforms for the pitchers and catchers, with a chasm between the two.
The field is a standard dirt and grass set up, with a more gravel-textured warning track. It's a symmetrical outfield fence with 330 feet down each line, 370 feet in the power alleys, and 400 feet to straightaway center field. The scoreboard is very basic with a line score, hits, runs, errors, the player at bat number, and a spot to post whether the past play was a hit or error.
Announcements are kept to a minimum, so fans just have the natural sounds of baseball to surround them.
There are several bars and restaurants within easy walking distance of Jackson Field. You'll find some typical chains such as Subway, Taco Bell, and Buffalo Wild Wings all within easy walking distance. You could certainly pick up some food before the game and bring it with you.
Other options include Manny's Pub, where there is a good beer selection with TVs and a pool table. The kitchen doesn't open until 6pm, so this may be a better post game hangout spot.
If you like local brews, then a stop into the Thirsty Dog Brewing Company over on Grant Street would be a good choice. They offer several beers made in house, including the fantastic Citra Dog IPA. They don't serve food here though, so you'll have to find dinner or lunch elsewhere.
As is the case with many baseball venues in the MAC, the majority of the crowd is made up of friends and family of either the visiting team or the Zips. There is only a slight home field advantage in terms of the fan numbers. Nearly everyone in attendance will be wearing the colors of the home team or the visitors, with better overall attendance for those games against the teams closest to Akron (Kent State, Bowling Green, and Toledo).
Restrooms are located in FirstEnergy Stadium along the third base side of the ballpark. They are large and reasonably clean. Much better than the port-a-potty options you'll find at many of the regional baseball facilities.
Parking is a breeze, and free no matter what option you choose. Some fans park near the scoreboard for the football venue, Infocision Stadium. You may even find a few tailgating here. You can also find street parking on Union.
Crowds are small enough that traffic will not be an issue at all. You can also move easily around the ballpark if you're the type who likes to mosey around a bit during the game.
There is no admission charge to see an Akron Zips baseball game. There is no charge for parking. There are concessions on hand, and the prices are about what you would expect, and the quality is better than expected. Overall, this is well worth your sport's dollars that you may choose to invest. If you're in the area and like watching baseball, then a trip to Jackson Field is a good choice.
The University of Akron has made noticeable investments in their athletic facilities over the past decade or so, and Jackson Field is located right in with the rest of the athletic facilities. While there is nothing that will wow you about the baseball complex, you will certainly find a comfortable place to see a game.
One extra point for the interesting bullpen set-up.
One final extra point for the quality of the Italian Sausage. If you see a lot of college baseball in the Midwest, you know that quality concession items are few and far between, so having something this good is a great bonus to this venue.
If you can find a chance on the calendar where you can see a game at Akron's Jackson Field and Kent State's Schoonover Baseball Stadium, then you should be in for a good day of baseball. You can also check the schedule for the Akron RubberDucks of the Eastern League and make a whole baseball weekend out of a trip to Rubber City.
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222 S Main St
Akron, OH 44308
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