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Official Review by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey Co-Founder
The bronze statue, known as the Spartan, stands at the intersection of Kalamazoo Street, Chestnut Road and Red Cedar Road on the campus of Michigan State University. The iconic sculpture is probably more associated with the football team, but his glance is directed away from Spartan Stadium, and into right field of McLane Stadium.
The official name of the venue is McLane Stadium at Kobs Field. Drayton and Elizabeth McLane donated $4 million to allow the university to construct the current seating, and the stadium was ready for the 2009 season. The Spartans opened it up in style as pitcher Nolan Moody hurled a no-hitter in the opening game against Northwestern.
The Michigan State baseball team has some history of success, but they have not appeared in the College World Series since 1954. The program was able to win the Big Ten Championship in 2011, so perhaps the program is on the upswing. It was their first conference championship since 1979.
The retired numbers of former greats are displayed in right field including Kirk Gibson (#30), Danny Litwhiler (#1), Hall-of-Famer Robin Roberts (#36), and the field’s namesake John Kobs (#25). John Kobs coached the baseball team from 1925-1963, and also served as head coach for basketball and hockey at different periods of his time in East Lansing. Other notable players to wear the green and white include Steve Garvey, John Smoltz, and Mark Mulder.
The combination of a new and comfortable stadium with historic and unique charm, on a beautiful college campus makes for an enjoyable afternoon of 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".
The menu is exactly what you would expect from attending a sporting event, although there is more selection than you may find at many college baseball venues in the Midwest. Hot dogs ($3.50), brats ($4), burgers ($5), chicken sandwiches ($5), and cheeseburgers ($5.50) are on offer. I tried the brat and cheeseburger, both of which were decent and perhaps slightly above average in quality. Other snacks available include fries ($3.50), popcorn ($3.50), and nachos ($3.50).
Pepsi products are available ($3.50/$4), as is bottled water ($3.50), and hot beverages from Tim Horton's. On a cold spring day, you'll appreciate the coffee, cappuccino, and hot chocolate available ($2). If you're owed 50 cents in change then you may be getting a half dollar coin, a quirk that I found to be kind of cool.
The stadium is indeed located on the banks of the Red Cedar, in close proximity to the other Spartan athletic facilities including Spartan Stadium, Breslin Center, and Munn Ice Arena. Of historic note is also the nearby Jenison Fieldhouse, the former home of the basketball team, current home of the wrestling and volleyball teams.
Right field is unique at Kobs Field with a small hill that stretches from right center to the right field line, and helps to determine the length of the outfield fence, only 302 feet down the line. Unfortunately it really didn't come into play during my visit, but it would be interesting to see a right fielder scale the hill to try and catch a deep fly ball.
Immediately behind the plate there are 3-5 rows of green plastic seats with cupholders and adequate legroom. These stretch between the two dugouts and have a screen in front to protect the fans from foul balls. Beyond the dugouts there are some bleacher seats which are unobstructed by the net. The bleachers are a cold metal, not ideal for many games in March or April. There are 11 additional rows of bleachers that make up sort of a mini upper deck as you climb a flight of stairs to reach these seats.
The announcer calls out, "Let's play Spartan Baseball," as the team readies to throw the first pitch, and the MSU fight song plays over the PA. This is one of the few interactive touches that you'll get as a spectator, as the presentation becomes pretty no frills from there. You'll hear the fight song again when the team scores, but that's about all.
I really enjoy walking around the Michigan State campus, but it can be a bit of a hike to any restaurants or bars. You'll likely be driving and not walking should you want to add a stop to your trip. That said, I am a big fan of the Harrison Roadhouse and their cheeseburgers and selection of local beers. This would be my suggestion if you want a bite to eat. Dublin Square is also a good spot with well executed Irish pub fare.
For a cold March day, I was fairly impressed with the turnout on the date of my visit. Most of the lower chairback seats were full, with a smattering of fans in the upper bleachers or standing in the inner concourse. Even so, the Spartan players were probably the loudest component during the game, and it was somewhat fun to hear their chants and camaraderie throughout the contest.
There aren't really any signs of where to park for a baseball game, and most of the parking lots are reserved for those with a pass. Your best parking option would be to head to Spartan Stadium, which is also the Visitor's lot. There is a charge for parking depending on the length that you are there. Parking rates are 80 cents per half hour, so you can expect to pay somewhere between $4-$6.40 for most games.
Set your GPS for Spartan Stadium and you should find it just fine, and there will be very little traffic getting in or out of the game. The sports facilities can be found just a couple of miles from M127.
The concessions can be found closer to the third base side of the stadium, but you have to walk a bit, a minor inconvenience. Restrooms are found in the same general area.
Many of the weekday games for Spartan baseball are no charge. That's right, free baseball baby! Weekend games go for $5 a ticket. It's still a good bargain and an affordable way to see a fairly high level of baseball. Add in $10 for concessions and $5 or so for parking, and one Andrew Jackson should cover the expenses for this journey.
One-sheet programs are available for free in the stairways, giving you the rosters for each team, team stats for the Spartans, and the current Big Ten standings.
I really like the hill in right field. It added some uniqueness to the park.
College baseball is one of those hidden gems of sporting events, and a trip to McLane Stadium is a worthwhile experience. If you are in the state of Michigan, and need to get some baseball into the system in the early spring, then I can definitely recommend this stop.
Member Review by Walt on Jan 22, 2014
The Breslin Center is among the greatest venues in college basketball --- it is far newer than Cameron, Assembly Hall and Allen Fieldhouse - but it is no less intimidating. It is absolutely worth a visit - plus it is brightly lit, clean and inviting inside --- and LOUD!
122 N Harrison Rd
East Lansing, MI 48823
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1100 Trowbridge Rd
East Lansing, MI 48823