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Official Review by Paul Derrick, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Prairie View A&M was established in 1876 and currently has an enrollment of around 8,500 students. The historically black school is a member of the SWAC and lately has been known for having one of the better baseball teams in the conference. The school is situated in the small town of Prairie View, Texas which is in between Waller and Hempstead. The Prairie View A&M Panthers play their home baseball games at Panther Field, which has the capacity to hold 1,000 people. The field regularly gets good attendance numbers, and the fans and alumni on hand make their presence known.
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".
You won't see or get anything spectacular when you visit the concession trailer at Panther Field, but should be able to find something to snack on. You will find canned Coca-Cola products as well as water and Gatorade. As far as snacks, Panther Field does offer hot dogs from time to time as well as small bags of chips, an assortment of candies and peanuts. Overall not a great variety of options but they are all reasonably priced and should hold you over until after the game.
You won't see much more of a crowd than you are use to seeing at a high school game at Panther Field, but the fans that are in attendance are pretty good. Both SWAC schools I have attended a game at had raised dugouts which I thought was kind of interesting; maybe it's a SWAC thing. The fans that are in attendance cheer on the team pretty well and make sure to give the umpires a piece of their mind when they think he missed a call. The seats are nothing but two sets of bleachers and aren't covered so make sure you bring some sunscreen and an umbrella because that Texas heat can get pretty brutal in the summertime.
If you are looking for a bite to eat other than fast food restaurants your best bet is to go to Hempstead or Waller as Prairie View has very few options. In driving around the town and campus the only choices I saw for anything to eat were Sonic, McDonalds, and Frenchy's. Of course I guess this is to be expected in a town of only 4,400 people.
The fans in attendance at Panther Field are mostly faculty, alumni, family or fellow students but they do a great job of cheering on the Panthers. The only problem with the fans though is that there just aren't enough of them to warrant a bigger score. On a few of the games that I have been to I have yet to see more than 100 people at the game or in the bleachers even during some of their bigger rivalry games like Texas Southern. The fans are great and vocal. There just aren't enough of them to warrant a bigger score.
The parking access is kind of a two edged sword at Panther Field. Parking is free and available right up next to the field which is convenient for getting to and leaving the ballpark, but it can be a pain when you go out and see that one of the errant foul balls has made its way through your windshield, which happened to the lady who parked next to me. The parking is free which is always good though, you just might want to take the most outer spot. Bathrooms are a set of port-a-potties which in the middle of the Texas summer can be a little rough.
Watching a game at Panther Field is free which makes for a pretty good return on investment. Add the free ticket in with free parking and it is really hard to find a bad investment in going to Panther Field to watch a game. However though with no covered bleachers it can be pretty rough to watch in the heat of the summer, so make sure you bring the sunscreen.
One extra point goes for free parking, in today's economy it is always the little things that count.
My last extra point goes to the no admission charge. If you are looking for a great place to take your kid to show him the intricacies of baseball a game, then Panther Field is definitely a great option.
The Prairie View A&M baseball team is on the rise after winning the 2012 SWAC baseball tournament. I hope this continues to bring out more fans to the ballpark.
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