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Official Review by Scott Bultman, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Cincinnati Bearcats baseball team began play at a sparkling new stadium in 2004. It is named Marge Schott Stadium due to a $2 million gift to the Cincinnati athletic department from the Marge & Charles J. Schott Foundation, to whom the controversial Reds owner left most of her estate after her passing in 2004. The baseball stadium shows no signs of age as the structure and seating areas look great. The field itself was renovated to a turf surface in 2014.
Cincinnati Bearcats baseball began play in 1886 and have a rich history in a town where baseball usually comes first each year. They have nine conference championships and seven NCAA tournament appearances. Famous MLB players from the Bearcats include notable names such as Sandy Koufax, Kevin Youkilis, and Josh Harrison.
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 two concession stands at Marge Schott Stadium, one each at the top of the stands along each baseline. When crowds are lighter, only the first base stand will be open. The fare is standard with hot dogs, nachos, pretzels, popcorn, and candy offered. Prices seem a bit high for a college baseball game. Soda can be had for $4, peanuts for $4, and coffee/hot chocolate for $2.75. These prices are on par with high level minor league stadiums and even some major league parks. Tickets are cheap, but buying food and drink will set you back a bit.
Beer is sold, which is rare for a Midwestern school. Most of the usual domestic brands are available as are a couple of micros.
Structurally, MSS resembles some of the newer minor league parks with seating down the foul lines and an automated scoreboard and decent sized video board out in right field. It's a nice small park to watch baseball. Fans seated in any location will still have a great view of the game. If fans are wanting to stand and talk with a friend, there are standing room areas around the entire concourse. This is a nice feature as many college baseball stadiums don't have this feature.
The seats seem to sit high above the field, giving you decent sightlines regardless of where you sit. The outfield wall is entirely a black tarp material over black fencing. Couple this with the stark brick wall of Fifth Third Arena, which butts up against the right field area of the stadium, and it kind of makes for a boring scene to stare out at.
Only a short five minute walk from Marge Schott Stadium, the street that forms the southern border of UC's campus, Calhoun Street, has been going through a university-backed transformation. This has included the school buying up and tearing down older properties to build nicer dorms and eventually, condos with street level retail. A short walk past the soccer stadium on Dennis Street to Calhoun immediately puts you steps away from chains like Panera Bread, Five Guys Burgers, and Buffalo Wild Wings.
If you want something a bit more unique, go a block south onto McMillan, or west a few blocks and you'll pass Pomodori's Pizza, favored for its wood-fired pizza and Christy's & Lenhardt's, with German food and a beer garden.
The new stadium has served to raise the UC baseball team's profile in recent years. Improved facilities have led to stronger recruiting and thus, more competitive teams to keep fans engaged. The school reported over 1,000 season tickets sold for the 2016 season, which is solid considering the capacity and competition locally for the entertainment dollar. Along with free access for UC students, aggressive marketing to groups (at $1 a person for groups of 10 or more), as well as $20 season ticket packages has brought solid crowds to Marge Schott Stadium. Fans are well-behaved, only shouting out encouragement to their team. Apparently UC is a well-liked travel destination for opposing fans and you shouldn't expect any confrontations between the home and visiting fans.
It's relatively easy to get to the Cincinnati campus in the Clifton neighborhood, which sits on the hill just north of downtown Cincinnati. The school can be accessed by either major highway in the area, Interstate 71 (1.5 miles to the east) or I-75 (three miles to the west). Marge Schott Stadium is a part of the University of Cincinnati's Varsity Village, the small "neighborhood" of the school's sports facilities, which includes football's Nippert Stadium and basketball's Fifth Third Arena on the southern end of this urban campus.
Depending on the time of day, traffic in the area can be a beast. If it is rush hour, it will take you some significant time to get in and out of the campus area, and if you can avoid using the highways during this time to get where you need to, I would recommend it.
As for parking, you can pay $5 and park in the Corry Garage, which is right across the street from the stadium. If the game is later in the evening, you may be able to find metered on-street parking, which is free after 6pm Mondays-Saturdays and all day Sunday. There is some free street parking a few blocks south of the stadium past the CVS. As always, read the street signs carefully to avoid getting ticketed or towed.
All seats are $5 for adults and $3 for kids. There are bleachers with back rests along the baselines, but the three sections behind home plate are individual chairs. There is no difference in price and all seats are general admission. For anyone local to Cincinnati, season tickets are incredibly cheap at $20 for adults, or $10 for kids. Food is a bit overpriced, but there are plenty of decent options around the campus if you don't want to bother with it. Add in the parking options and you have a pretty inexpensive trip to see a ballgame.
An extra point for the major league talent the program has been slowly producing over the past few years. Bearcat alumni include Cincinnati natives Boston Red Sox 1B Kevin Youkilis (though he left back in 2001, he's remained a supporter of UC Athletics) and Pittsburgh Pirates 2B Josh Harrison. Even though Sandy Koufax only played one season at Cincy, that name brings the wow factor.
Another point for the increased attention UC has given to the baseball program, a sport that is traditionally not a money generator for most schools.
Another bonus point is given for having a real life bearcat in a cage on the concourse, sponsored by the Cincinnati Zoo. This is a great extra for a college baseball game and gives fans a chance to see the school's nickname namesake.
One final point for UC serving alcohol at its ballgames. It's nice to have the option if you like a brew with your baseball.
In an area not known for a tradition of college baseball, Marge Schott Stadium has raised the profile. The park is a good example of the university trying to make the best use of its limited space. At a school that has fervently supported its basketball, and now football program, there is now a spring counterpart for students and local fans to rally around. Everything about this park screams first class and it is something for Bearcat fans and the university to be proud of.
Member Review by cadence80 on Apr 09, 2012
Currently, the University of Cincinnati is attempting to figure out how to fund renovations and expansions of both the home venues for its football and basketball programs; Nippert Stadium and Fifth Third Arena. It is an arduous, but necessary task in competitive Division I college athletics. Meanwhile, the school already has a great modern ballpark taken care of. Opened in 2004, the name was then changed to Marge Schott Stadium in 2006 due to a generous gift to the Cincinnati athletic department from the Marge & Charles J. Schott Foundation, to whom the controversial Reds owner left most of her estate after her passing in 2004.
Member Review by paul on Jun 27, 2012
This is a great little college ballpark. I love it when universities pack all of their sports facilities into one area. It really makes it easy to visit, and there can be a flurry of activity at the various fields/arenas/stadiums.
205 W McMillan St
Cincinnati, OH 45219
210 Calhoun St
Cincinnati, OH 45219
200 Calhoun St
Cincinnati, OH 45219
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