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Official Review by Brandon Gee, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Opened in 2002, Stanley J. McKie Field at Joseph P. Hayden Park is the home of Miami University Redhawk baseball. The 600-seat stadium provides a comfortable setting for Redhawk baseball and is now undergoing improvements which should help to bolster the on-field product. Once winter finally fades away and springtime weather hits Oxford, Ohio, a couple hours at Hayden might be worth your time.
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The ballpark doesn't feature a built-in concession stand. Instead, the school parks a trailer on the third base concourse to serve guests. The grills for hot dogs and burgers are set up next to it and the whole thing makes it feel more like a cookout. As with Miami's other venues, the food quality is good, with very reasonable pricing ($3 hot dogs, $5 cheeseburger, etc.).
Clad in Miami's signature brick, the building blends in seamlessly with the rest of the campus. An unobtrusive structure, Hayden Field is a single story facility with bench seating along the backstop for 600 and lawn space along each foul line. There's not much in the way of the program's history on display though there are two plaques at the main entrance for each of the venue's namesakes. You'll notice that there is fencing in front of most of the seating areas which don't prove to be a distraction. In fact, it may be a comfort to some with young children or people who want to watch the game and not have to worry so much about foul balls screaming toward to the seats.
The atmosphere is definitely laid back. This means that, for now, you'll encounter locals who are just out to enjoy the game. Winning or losing doesn't appear to be much of a concern, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Hayden Park sits on the northeast edge of the Miami campus, not far from a cluster of sports venues which include Millett Hall and Yager Stadium just past the dorms on Talawanda Road. Spring is a great time to walk around the campus and to take in High Street, the town's main drag a block south of the stadium.
The crowd is mostly students and town residents looking to spend a day outside. The fact that games are free of charge means people will wander in and out of the park. Once the winter chill wears off in April, the stands should be filled with locals just looking to get some sun and take in a game.
The ballpark is on the northeast edge of campus. Go to the eastern end of High Street, turn on to North Patterson Avenue, stay on that for a block and turn left on to Withrow. The stadium is on the right-hand side.
As for where to park, be sure to check the hours of spaces on Withrow as these are mostly for permit holders during set hours so be sure to check the game's start time to see if public parking is okay. Across Withrow from the stadium is a parking garage, which is open to the public. If you don't mind walking around town, you can always park in a metered space near High Street's businesses, about 4 blocks west.
Miami's baseball program hit a rough patch recently after a solid string of MAC tournament appearances, though their last MAC title and NCAA appearance were both in 2005.
Miami has to deal with the problems common to other northern baseball programs. Weather issues often force teams to limit practice to indoor venues and usually mean a long string of road games to open the season. The good news is the university (or rather, well heeled donors) are investing in projects to help the competition level of Redhawks baseball. Along the foul line in left field, a training facility is being built that will host new locker rooms and training equipment. This should complement the addition of the new fieldhouse recently built outside Yager Stadium's north end zone and give the team new resources that should aid them by now allowing year-round training as well as helping in recruiting.
With no cost for tickets and reasonable concession prices at games, there's little expense needed. To keep it that way, make sure you avoid parking in reserved spaces around the stadium so you're not hit with a ticket.
Points for spring time in Oxford. It's one of the region's best college towns and this time of year is a great time to visit.
So maybe they're not ready for Omaha just yet. I don't think that should necessarily deter you from checking out Redhawks baseball. The pleasant setting at McKie Field would be a nice addition to any visit to Oxford. This is more a setting for someone who just wants to hang out and watch a game rather than somebody tied to the scoreboard who wants to see the next wave of major league prospects in action.
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