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Official Review by Justin Sutton, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Located in the state capital of Tallahassee, Florida State University has one of the top baseball programs in the country. The home of that program, Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium matches the quality of the baseball squad.
Opened in 1983 under the name Seminole Stadium, the stadium is now named for former coach and All-American, Dick Howser. In 2005, the playing surface was named after current coach Mike Martin.
The venue, which seats 6,700 fans, has played host to 26 NCAA regionals.
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".
Dick Howser Stadium hits a home run in the concession area with a variety of food options and affordable prices. Most fans can fill up at the game for under $15 with a snack, drink and food item.
The variety of foods offered at the stadium will surprise fans, as there is a traditional game day menu (burgers, hotdogs, nachos), a lite menu (chicken sandwiches, veggie burgers), and even gluten-free hot dogs. Other vendors sell items such as frozen pink lemonade and Italian ice.
Fans going to the game should know that different concession stands sell different items, so if something does not look appealing at one stand, there may be something else for sale at another. For the biggest variety of options, make a visit to Haggard Baseball Plaza, which has char-grilled burgers, specialty nachos, and a concession stand area.
Nestled on the campus of Florida State, fans get to see quite a bit of the university on their way into the stadium. With hanging moss on the oaks that surround the parking lot and a circus tent across the street behind right field, it makes for an interesting trip into the stadium.
Fans getting to the game early enough can watch warm-ups close to the field, and several Seminole players will come by the fences and sign autographs for fans.
Most of the seating in the stadium is reserved chair backs, and they all come with their own cup holder. Seats in the higher rows provide more relief from the sun, but after 6 or 6:30, the sun moves behind the stadium. To provide some relief from the heat, giant fans hang in each section, and a cool zone can be found near the right field bleachers.
The visiting squad sits on the third base side of the field while the home team sits in the first base dugout.
If going to the game with children, the Haggard Baseball Plaza has several picnic tables, which may prove to be better than hauling the food back to the seats.
The only drawback to the location of the stadium is the lack of outfield seating. Fans only get to take in the game from in front of the outfield fences, not behind.
The right field fence may be the most interesting as it is elevated, protecting traffic and pedestrians behind it. The scoreboard sits in left field.
Parking and walking to go grab a bite is not really much of an option for Dick Howser Stadium, as most restaurants would be at least a fifteen-minute walk, something that is common for most on-campus venues.
However, within those fifteen minutes, fans could walk to Momo's Pizza, a place with solid reviews.
Perhaps the best option for pregame activities is to set up and tailgate at The Oaks at Doak. The Animals of Section B and many FSU fans meet up and party in this area, a ten-minute walk from Dick Howser Stadium, before the game.
Led by the Animals of Section B, the fans at Dick Howser Stadium rarely let a quiet moment occur during the game.
Shannon Thomas, the current zoo keeper of the Animals of Section B, said the group took its name after a fan threw stale donuts at the group and called them a bunch of animals, galvanizing the group to keep up their actions.
"Eventually in the late 90's it started getting organized," said Thomas. "Our former zookeeper, who passed away, started getting us sponsors, designing t-shirts, and got the songbook together."
"We like to think we affect the game and get in the head of the other team," said Thomas. "It's fun."
One of the more interesting actions of the Animals is their singing of the Canadian National Anthem.
Thomas said the singing of the song every fifth inning when the 'Noles come to bat started during the Calgary Olympic Games. A few fans were humming it, and Florida State put runs on the board that inning, leading to a new tradition.
While these fans may stand out, fans across the venue love the 'Noles, and after talking to them, the fans prove they know the history of the squad.
If fans of opposing teams can take good-hearted ribbing of themselves and their team, they should walk away having a had a fun time at Dick Howser, as well.
During the game, fans have chants for nearly every player during the game, and following a Florida State home run, the player's name will be chanted until he comes out of the dugout to acknowledge the crowd. Another common cheer happens when the Florida State pitcher is close to striking out an opposing batter.
The biggest knock on Dick Howser Stadium is finding it. Perhaps in today's world of Google Maps and GPS devices, signs are not as necessary as they once were, but a little guidance that someone is in fact going the right way would be nice. No such signs appeared along US-90 before taking a right on to Murphree Street to get to Chieftan Way.
Gameday parking should not pose a problem to fans, as there are many parking places near the stadium, and the traffic flow after the game is quick and painless.
During the game, concession stands operate quickly, and there is plenty of room to move around in the concourse. Trips to the stand should be planned, because there is not much of any view of the game from the concession stands.
With no cost for parking, fair concession prices, and general admission seating for as little as $24 dollars for a family of four, fans going to Dick Howser Stadium get to see a top-ten baseball program in a high quality venue for a low price.
Children under the age of four are admitted free to Florida State baseball.
Overall cleanliness of the stadium deserves a star. Every section of the seating looked and felt clean. The restrooms stayed clean and stocked throughout the game.
The Animals of Section B pick up a bonus star for the fun they add to the game.
Fan access to the players and stadium picks up a star, as well. Before the game, several Seminole players stood along the right field fence signing autographs for fans.
The ease of movement around the stadium picks up the final star. Even with a near full capacity, the stadium does not feel crowded.
Member Review by okstate on Apr 30, 2014
Food & Beverage: Plenty of options here
Atmosphere: Great place to watch a game. The fans always come out in big numbers and are very supportive
Neighborhood: FSU is a beautiful campus and there are plenty of restaurants and bars in the surrounding area.
Fans: The stands are always packed and the fans are pretty rowdy. Especially "The Animals"
Access: There is plenty of parking nearby and on campus.
Return: You won't be dissapointed
Extras: FSU seems to always have a solid team. Always worth the trip if you are in Tallahassee during the season
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