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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
South Florida State College is small; so small that one may drive past it without knowing they had. This does not, however, mean that they are less worthy of visiting for an evening baseball game. Panther Field is one of the more comfortable baseball stadiums in Florida for its age and size. Located right off of US-27, the stadium mixes quaint small-town feel with comfort in a blend that sends one back in time.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There isn't a big mix of food items at the SFSC baseball concession stand. The usuals of cheeseburgers ($3), hamburgers ($2.50), and hot dogs ($2) are the main food items available. Drinks include Powerade ($2), water ($1), hot chocolate ($0.50), and sodas ($1.50). Additional snacks range from chips to candy, peanuts, popcorn, and sunflower seeds ($0.25-$1.50).
The stadium is situated right on the outer edge of campus between the main buildings and the road. It may seem old and in need of some TLC when one first looks at it, but a closer examination reveals some subtle brilliance in its construction. The field faces east, so unless the game is in the morning, fans will never be looking into the sun. In addition, large mature live oak trees grow tall behind the main grandstand, shielding fans from the harsh Florida sun during the day. The seats are comfortable for being older, and the left field line has an elevated wood deck built along the fence where fans can set up their own chairs to watch the game.
Sebring and Avon Park are not exactly thriving metropoles. These small towns are quintessential Central Florida heritage, thriving on agriculture and local businesses rather than tourism. The largest crowds the area sees are during race weekends at Sebring International Raceway. Therefore, lodging immediately isn't plentiful, but there are various hotels and motels along US-27 to pick from. In addition, several miles south of the campus lies Sebring's mall area that is home to several chain restaurants. Besides that, there aren't many things to see in the area besides citrus fields.
The fans usually pack the stadium, though seating is limited as it is. Most are locals who take pride in their local college team. All of them are sport knowledgable and can easily fill you in on the talent on the field. The crowd sizes are nonetheless small and are also quiet. The majority of the cheering during the game comes from the dugouts.
Getting to South Florida State College isn't hard, but it is out of the way. From Orlando to the north or points to the south, it is a straight shot on US-27 until you reach the campus. Once you are there, free parking is plentiful and mere steps from the grandstands.
Tickets to Panther Field are free, making this a perfect stop for someone wanting to catch some college baseball on the cheap. In addition to free parking, the ultra low price of concessions helps make this one of the more affordable sports options in Central Florida for fans of any kind.
The field is situated right next to the school's softball field, making jumping between games on doubleheader game days a breeze.
Another nice aspect of Panther Field is the multiple seating options along the left field line. The wood deck that has been built offers fans the ability to get an elevated view of the game action most stadiums don't offer.
Finally, fans can purchase a range of souvenirs from the concession stand that include magnets ($5), hats ($10-$15), car flags ($6), visors ($10), and t-shirts ($10).
While one may drive past South Florida State College's campus and baseball stadium, that may be a mistake. This small campus offers a comfortable stadium in which to watch college baseball, even in the heat of Florida's often unrelenting sunshine. A mix of inexpensive concessions, free and convenient parking, and free admission makes this an easy and cheap stop for anyone looking to add sports to their drive through Central Florida.
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