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Official Review by Paul Donaldson, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Braves of Alcorn State University call Willie E. "Rat" McGowan, Sr. Stadium at William H. "Bill" Foster Field home turf. The facility provides a comfortable atmosphere for SWAC baseball in a league not exactly known for quality ballparks. Though attendance is typically light, you’ll find a nice mix of students, long-time Alcorn Athletics supporters, and family of the players.
The field is named for Bill Foster, an Alcorn State alum and member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown from his days of starring in the Negro National League. The stadium is named for Rat McGowan, a long-time former head coach for Braves baseball.
While the facility and experience may not top your bucket list, it is a comfortable place to take in a game and enjoy SWAC baseball.
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".
While McGowan Stadium at Foster Field had a concession stand built into the backside of the main grandstand, the stand is typically not open. However, fans are allowed to bring in outside items. With that said, make sure you plan ahead if you want refreshments at the ballpark. For some games, you may find a street vendor selling food in the parking lot on the hill down the third baseline.
The atmosphere at an Alcorn State baseball game is one of the better in the SWAC, a conference not well known for baseball venues.
The grandstand exterior has a nice red brick style with green trim at the top. You'll see the field name emblazoned at the center. The seats sit inside that brick frame and are aluminum. While they aren't the most comfortable and create a blinding glare at times, they do provide an excellent view of the playing field.
Rather than the all-too-common chain link fence blocking your view at SWAC venues, McGowan Stadium features netting across the grandstand seats. The scoreboard, located just to the right of the right field foul line, is very humble and offers limited stats.
The outfield wall consists of privacy fencing, which is in rather poor shape. Field lines are 330-400-300. It is nice to see "SWAC CHAMPIONS 2011" painted in large letters on the wall in right center field.
Alcorn State University is located in the city of Lorman, Mississippi. The area isn't exactly overflowing with attractions and places to eat, but definitely has a university feel and offers a safe environment.
It would be wise to eat before going to the game since the neighborhood doesn't have much to offer in terms of restaurants or even concessions. There are three restaurants in the area that you can check out: Wingos, The College Grill, and Pattons. The Old Country Store is worth a visit.
The city of Natchez is nearby and is a wonderful place to spend some time if you'll be in the area for a weekend series.
Average attendance for Alcorn baseball games is about 100-150. Fans can get very supportive during big plays. You'll notice a nice mix of students, player families, and university supporters. Unfortunately, baseball in the SWAC is just not very popular.
The Alcorn State campus is accessible off of Hwy 61 on the southwest Mississippi region. You'll have no problem making your way out to the parking lot nearest the stadium. There's ample free parking.
Considering that you can attend Braves baseball games for free, don't expect the usual wait to pick up tickets and get through the entry gate. Just walk in and have a seat wherever you'd like.
Restrooms are located on the backside of the grandstand.
While there isn't much of a financial investment required to attend an Alcorn State baseball game (admission and parking are free, plus there's no concessions to spend your money on), there's still a cost to consider in time. Free or not, a visit to McGowan Stadium is probably only worth it to those living in the immediate area or traveling along with their alma mater.
There are two plaques located under the main grandstand which honor the stadium namesakes, Rat McGowan and Bill Foster.
It's nice to see Alcorn honor the 2011 SWAC championship team with recognition on the right center field wall.
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5164 Hwy 552
Lorman, MS 39096
Lorman, MS 39096
Lorman, MS 39096
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