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Official Review by Brandon Gee, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Dayton has long been thought of as a strong home for college basketball, but locals love their baseball just as much. In addition to the record-setting Dayton Dragons at downtown’s Fifth Third Field, the city has two college programs at the University of Dayton and Wright State University.
Wright State’s Raider baseball teams call Nischwitz Stadium home. It’s a cozy facility on the edge of the school’s athletic campus and has been home to strong success in recent years in the Horizon League.
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Just past the entrance is the concession window. It feels like a stand at a community baseball field you would see after your little league games. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as the prices are great. $1.50 hot dogs, $2 brats, and hamburgers, nachos, and a pretzel with cheese are all only $2.50 each. All drinks (cans of pop, water, Gatorade or coffee) are all just $1. No alcohol is served. It is basic, but serves what you need to make it through a game.
You walk up steps to the concourse which runs the length of the seating area, from the edge of the infield on the first base side to the opposite end on the third base side. No seating area is more than four rows deep ensuring that you're always close to the action. You'll notice that some fans have improvised a couple seating areas just outside the stadium's walls. People set up lawn chairs outside the fence along the right field foul line, as well as setting up shop on the small grass berm that overlooks center field. Nobody seems to bother either group despite them not being paying customers.
There's not a lot of tension in the crowd. This is definitely a leisurely experience, nice if you just want to relax outside and watch some baseball.
A nice thing that Wright State did is where they placed the stadium. Nischwitz is across the sea of parking lots that surround the Nutter Center, but is tucked away from all that blacktop and the school's softball stadium behind a small forest. It separates the ballpark from its surroundings a bit, giving the park a tranquil feel.
The area surrounding the campus does have a good amount of things to do. Plenty of food options are nearby, with many options if you head west on Col. Glenn Highway. Since this is the suburbs and Wright State was a commuter campus for some time, there's no real "walkability". You have to drive everywhere, giving the place less of a neighborhood feel.
Since baseball is a spring sport, I would suggest making this a daytrip with a drive to Yellow Springs, a quaint town friendly to artists and small businesses. It's a nice place for families and is only a 20 minute drive west of Fairborn.
Nischwitz Stadium only seats 750 so it's not going to be incredibly loud. The fans who do show up are loyal to the team and cheer at the right time while calling out good plays.
Raider fans averaged about 300 fans a game for the 2013 season. College baseball can be a tough sell in this area since they have to start the season so early. It's still winter when the season kicks off mid-February. Still, with such a small stadium, I hope the school can work towards selling this place out on a regular basis.
Nischwitz Stadium sits in the Wright State athletic complex, near the school's softball stadium. The area sits next to I-675 on the eastern edge of Wright State's campus in Fairborn. From the north, turning right off exit 17 and a short drive puts you right at the lots in front of Nutter Center. From the south, exit 17 will lead you north of the arena on Route 844. Take the first exit for the arena. A left on University Blvd, then another on Raider Road leads to the surface lots. Turn into Lot 8, which is between the trees and the lake and should be marked with a baseball to let you know you're next to the stadium. Parking is free and then it's just a short walk to the stadium.
A game at Nischwitz is still a good value for baseball fans. Adults are $5 and kids are $3, and since the concessions window is serving up just the basics, you can feed yourself well for under $5 or $6/person.
Parking is free and plentiful right outside the stadium.
While the Raiders had an unspectacular 2013, the program has had a recent run of success that hopefully suggests that the season was a fluke. Wright State won a Horizon League regular season title in 2009, an HL tournament title in 2010, and both in 2011. Hopefully the future will see Wright State get back on track. Regardless, this is a nice little ballpark to spend some time.
One point for separating the ballpark from the large swath of surface parking lots with the small forest area. You get the convenience of parking so close but the ballpark still has a bit of an idyllic setting.
One point for the surprising amount of Raiders who have gone on to play pro ball. Team alumni that have reached 'the bigs' has included current Cleveland Indians pitcher Joe Smith and Brian Anderson, a pitcher on the 2001 World Series winning Arizona Diamondbacks.
Wright State is still a young competitor in terms of Division I college sports. If they just keep at it, as the university transitions from commuter campus to one which fosters a stronger sense of pride in the schools' sports teams, then they will continue to find success. Raider baseball is not a major player on the NCAA college baseball postseason as of yet, but has been a strong competitor in the Horizon League. If you want to relax and just want to watch some baseball, you'd probably enjoy a day at Wright State's Nischwitz Stadium.
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