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Official Review by Sean MacDonald, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
LIU Brooklyn is the only campus in the Long Island University system to have athletic programs in Division I. Located on the edge of downtown Brooklyn next to the Fort Greene neighborhood, the entire campus takes up one city block, which limits the number of facilities that can be used for sports. In fact, the university does quite well fitting in one large outdoor field on campus, which is known as LIU Field.
It is used not only for baseball, but also softball, soccer, and lacrosse, which makes it less than ideal for any of these sports.
The field was originally opened after Ebbets Field was torn down (the Blackbirds played some games at Ebbets in 1958 and 1959 and were the last baseball team to regularly use that ballpark).
The field was resurfaced in 2011, when the soccer field was widened, and a new scoreboard was added in 2013. So how does LIU Field work as a baseball venue? About as well as can be expected.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There is no food served here, but there are nearby delicatessens where you can pick up something before the game. There is also a Subway restaurant on campus and several other take-out eateries in the Lutney Commons area.
There are two distinct seating areas that are not connected; one is almost directly above the first base line and provides unique views of the action, while the other is in right field (actually the infield seats for softball). Most fans choose the first option, which is accessed by a staircase off Willoughby Street. There are 3-4 rows of grey plastic seats here, without a chairback, all protected by netting, an absolute necessity given how close you are to the action.
The softball diamond takes up most of right field, while there is white plastic fencing in centerfield. The field does not curve like a typical ball diamond, rather the left field fence (which borders Ashland Place) and centerfield fence meet at a corner, behind which sits the Steinberg Wellness Center, home of the Blackbird basketball teams.
There is music played over a tinny loudspeaker between innings, a small scoreboard in left-center field, and an announcer, but not much else to help the atmosphere along.
Downtown Brooklyn is definitely one of the most interesting parts of New York City, and not nearly as popular with tourists, making it less crowded and more accessible. The neighborhood is generally safe, though there was a gang-related murder just across the street from campus in October, 2015. As always in New York, pay attention to your surroundings.
The Barclays Center is a half-mile away along Flatbush Avenue, while the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is just a block away and offers much more than just music, including four cinemas at the Peter Jay Sharp Building and plays at the Harvey Theater.
Restaurants and bars abound, with Junior's being the most famous, just across Flatbush. Fast food options include SmashBurger and Sunny's Bagels across from the main entrance on DeKalb. Mullanes Bar & Grill is a popular sports bar just a couple of blocks south, while Thai food aficionados might enjoy National at the corner of Fulton and Fort Greene. I could go on, but it is safe to say that your post-game entertainment will be the highlight of your visit to LIU Field.
The main seating area was nearly completely filled at the game I attended, though the vast majority were family and friends, with many supporting the visitors. They cheered at the right time and stayed throughout the game despite the lack of comfort.
LIU Brooklyn is easily reached by several subways; with the DeKalb Avenue stop (serviced by the B, D, N, Q, and R lines) right at the southwest corner of campus the best bet. I can't imagine driving, but if you do, you will struggle to find street parking. I would avoid leaving the car on Willoughby Street as it is flush with the ballpark and foul balls occasionally make their way over the tall fence and onto the pavement here.
The main seating area is cramped and uncomfortable when it is full, and there is no room to move around with many fans standing behind the benches. If you choose the outfield seats, you will have plenty of room, but much of the view is blocked by a fence, as these are the infield seats for softball.
To get to the outfield seats, you must enter the plaza area off DeKalb Avenue and walk to the Steinberg Wellness Center. Don't enter the building, but look to the left and you should see a staircase at the edge of the building; this will take you to those seats.
The campus itself is not open to the public generally, but you can tell the security guard at the DeKalb Avenue entrance you are going to the baseball game and he will let you in.
There is a single portable toilet next to the staircase on Willoughby, but if you want comfort, you'll have to make your way onto campus, about a five-minute walk each way.
There are no tickets for sale here, but the lack of amenities and low-quality baseball makes three hours here not the best use of your time in New York City, unless you are a true stadium journeyer and want to see every Division I ballpark, or if you're just desperate for some baseball.
A lineup sheet is distributed at the main seating area.
There is no doubt that LIU Field is constrained by its location and the fact that it has to support four different sports. As a baseball park, it is functional and does provide that unique view directly above the baseline, but otherwise its lack of comfort and amenities makes it worth a visit for only the most diehard ball fans.
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