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Official Review by Andy Mantsch, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The Fresno State Bulldogs of the Mountain West may not be the first team that comes to mind when you think of college baseball tradition, but that doesn’t mean the program isn’t lacking in this category. Pete Beiden Field’s namesake won 600 games over 21 seasons as head coach of the Bulldogs from 1948 to 1969. More recently, the Bulldogs are famous for their improbable run to the 2008 national title from a lowly 4 seed in an NCAA Regional. Basically, this is like a 13 seed or lower winning the NCAA basketball tournament. Overall, the team has over 30 NCAA tournament appearances making them one of the more successful long term baseball programs in D1 baseball.
Pete Beiden Field opened in 1966 as Varsity Park, but that name was changed in 1972 to honor the recently retired legendary coach. The stadium seats an impressive 5,757 capacity, although it has never formally reached that attendance. The largest D1 baseball program in the San Joaquin Valley, the Bulldogs’ only true competition for fans in the area is the AAA minor league Fresno Grizzlies that play at downtown Chukchansi Park. Beiden Field offers a much different experience and feel than its downtown Fresno professional neighbor.
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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".
Beiden Field doesn't necessarily offer the widest food selection in baseball, but the open grill behind home plate fills the concourse with the smell of burgers and brats and adds a great touch to the venue.
The best options are the grilled food items that run from $6-$8 and include burgers, brats, chicken sandwiches and hot links. Some of the other specialty items available include pulled pork nachos ($7.50), a bowl of Pardini's Homemade Chili ($4.50) and Clam Chowder ($4.50). Other menu items include nachos ($6), hot dogs ($4.50), chili dogs ($5.50), soft pretzels ($3.50), pizza slices ($5) or even a whole pizza ($17). A variety of snacks are available too for under $5, including churros and gourmet popcorn.
Pepsi products are available for anywhere from $3-$5 depending on size. Gatorade is available for $4 and coffee/hot chocolate is available for $3. There are no alcohol sales at Beiden Field.
While the pork nachos are delicious and the clam chowder or chili are tempting, it's hard to pass up the smells wafting from the grill. A freshly grilled brat or a double cheeseburger are ideal options for the game.
There's nothing particularly intriguing about the atmosphere at Pete Beiden Field, mostly because it's an older and somewhat bland ballpark with very little in terms of attendance. Short of some of the historical aspects of the park, there's not a lot special here.
The stadium itself is pretty plain in design, with one large grandstand bowl extending from beyond 3rd base around the infield and past 1st base. Because the stadium tends to be generally devoid of fans, seating is pretty cozy. You can definitely stretch out and put your feet up. Unfortunately, this means there's not much in terms of energy in the park. The field itself looks nice enough, if not a bit thin in terms of grass. The nicest part of the park is the plaques, banners and statues all around honoring Fresno State tradition. Of particular note is the large statue of Pete Beiden on the 3rd base line. Unfortunately, the park seems dirty and old, and even the concourse display of famous players seems largely unkempt.
There is very little in terms of promotion going on at a Bulldogs game. Occasional T-shirt tosses and are about as engaged as things get. Outside of the normal music and effects, nothing special happens here.
There is no covered seating a Beiden Field, which can be difficult because the Fresno heat can get quite intense. You'll have plenty of seating options available, as attendance is generally sparse. But most of the seats are pretty similar in view and there's not really an upside for anywhere in particular. All seats have chairbacks, so this at least is more comfortable than bleachers.
Beiden Field is located right on campus in the middle of the Fresno State sports complex. Bulldog Stadium (football) is immediately adjacent and the softball stadium is across the street. The area itself is pretty bland, with streets laid out in a grid pattern filled with strip malls. There's not a lot to do within immediate walking distance, so expect to drive to the game.
There are several popular local restaurants that are worth checking out. Dog House Grill is only a few blocks away and is famous for its California tri-tip, but make sure you arrive early because it's almost always packed. If you drive north into Clovis you'll find Sequoia Brewing Company, which offers great craft beers and good food. The Tower District is not particularly far and is home to a variety of trending local bars and restaurants as well.
If you're in town for a long weekend, there's quite a bit to do within a short drive. Yosemite National Park is a straight shot north and you can be there in a little over an hour. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are about 90 minutes southeast. Fresno is also home to the AAA Fresno Grizzlies, although it's a pretty tame minor league baseball experience.
Most of the local hotels are along Shaw Avenue just two blocks south. The closest option is the University Square Hotel, although it's not the highest quality option. Just to the east under the Rt 168 bridge you'll find a Holiday Inn Express and a Hilton Garden Inn, which may suit the picky traveler a bit better.
Fresno State is a clear case of the stadium being too big for the fan base. The size of the venue itself makes the ballpark seem even more empty than it actually is.
Fresno State actually ranked 42nd in attendance in D1 baseball in 2014. You wouldn't be able to tell that by visiting the park. In general the stadium feels very empty and is oversized for their small base of loyal fans. The stadium has never truly reached capacity.
At Pete Beiden Field you'll clearly be able to identify the few that are passionate Bulldogs baseball fans, mostly because they will be the only few making any noise. For the most part, the smattering of fans are there to put their feet up and enjoy some ballpark food. It's largely a quiet crowd with the occasional cheering or heckling of the opposing team.
Fresno State's campus lies near a few major routes that cut through Fresno from Rt 99, which is the main corridor in and out of the city. Rt. 41 and Rt. 168 run north on either side of campus and provide quick access in and out of the city. Parking is free and easy and since the stadium is rarely crowded it's generally pretty easy to get around.
With free parking and easy access, there's no reason to not drive to Beiden Field. Otherwise, a cab may be your best option to get around the city.
Parking is free in a large lot just beyond the left field wall with the main entrance beyond 3rd base. It's rarely crowded, so access to the lot is very simple. Generally, you'll move in and out of the lot very freely.
Baseball tickets cost $10 and can be purchased at the main gate on the 3rd base line from what appears to be a shed. This is the only gate for ticket purchases, so it can be a bit of a choke point at times if there's any sort of a crowd.
Moving around the stadium is generally very easy. There's not a large crowd and the concourse is wide. Restrooms are located on both the 1st and 3rd base lines. They aren't particularly clean, and this is a theme for the park as a whole. In general, the park is a bit dirty and old.
While a trip to Pete Beiden Field isn't particularly expensive, you're not getting a whole lot back in return. The result? This is all pretty much average.
Free parking, a $10 ticket and about average food prices mean it's a pretty cheap night out. This would generally rate higher, but the venue doesn't really warrant more than that cost.
The primary extras you'll find here are all built around team tradition. The large statue of Pete Beiden, the display of Fresno State greats in the concourse and the championship decals on the outfield wall all remind you that despite the humble surroundings, there's a relatively rich history to this program.
Fresno State's baseball program has had some success in the past. Unfortunately, the stadium doesn't fully live up to expectations. This is one of those teams that would be better served with smaller, shinier venue. It's a good enough place to kick up your feet and enjoy a game in the less than crowded grandstand, but the amenities and frills just aren't really here.
Member Review by ryannorris on May 14, 2012
Pete Beiden won 600 games over the course 21 seasons coaching the Fresno State baseball team and, in 1972, Varsity Park was renamed in his honor.
Fresno State baseball competes for attention locally with the Fresno Grizzlies of the Pacific Coast League. Prior to moving to Chukchansi Park, the Grizzlies shared Pete Beiden Field with the university. Though Fresno is no stranger to professional baseball (they joined the original California League in 1898), the Grizzlies have only represented the city since 1998.
The Fresno State Bulldogs have been one of the more successful teams in the WAC, winning four of the last six regular season championships and five of the last six tournament championships.
The Bulldogs have also been successful on a national level, making 32 appearances in the NCAA tournament and four in the College World Series. In 2008, they won the NCAA National Championship, which represented their first NCAA championship for any men’s sport.
Pete Beiden Field is a fine place to take in a game with plenty of chair-backed seats and amenities to please the visiting fan. I did take note that the playing surface itself could use a facelift. The field and fences certainly seemed worn and showed the age of the facility.
2375 East Shaw Avenue
Fresno, CA 93710
2789 East Shaw Avenue
Fresno, CA 93710
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