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Official Review by Meg Minard, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Colorado State University-Pueblo is a public higher education institution based in southern Colorado. The athletic teams of CSU-Pueblo are known as the ThunderWolves and the motto of the athletic department is ‘Developing Champions through Athletics.’
The baseball program for CSU-Pueblo began in 1964, had a brief hiatus from 1986 until 1994, when the program was picked up again and the team began prospering under Coach Stan Sanchez. The ThunderWolves play in the NCAA Division II RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) and have had winning seasons for most of those years including going to the 1996 NCAA Division II College World Series.
They play at Rawlings Field on the campus of CSU-Pueblo, which is said to be one of the nicer ballparks in the RMAC. Let’s find out.
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".
The food offerings at Rawlings Field are minimal. This is similar to other RMAC baseball fields. Concessions are in the lower level of the press box in the entryway behind home plate and consist of hot dogs, nachos, candy and seeds. Drinks are Pepsi, water, and Gatorade. Prices for these snacks range from $2 - $4.25. It's a cash only concession stand.
No outside food or beverages are allowed, though that is not enforced at the baseball game.
The ThunderWolves baseball game experience is ho-hum.
All seats are in the sun so remember to bring sun screen. A net is across the entire seating area which extends all the way behind the dugouts. Behind home base are four sections of seven rows of standard blue fold down stadium seats. This seating area is directly under the speakers and the music can be loud in this section. Poles holding up the netting can get in the way when sitting in this area.
A walkway extends from this area down to the ends of both dugouts, then 12 rows of aluminum bleachers with backs fill up the rest of the seating The bleacher section does not have hand rails, and yes, yours truly did slip and fall, so be careful on those.
The announcer calls the starting line up too fast and music is played when announcing the home team so it is a bit difficult to hear and complete a scoresheet. Walk up music is only played for the home team, which is common.
Fielders lose sight of fly balls during sunny afternoon games as the sun blazes from behind home plate.
The infield is artificial turf (including the baselines and pitcher's mound) while the outfield is real grass (often light brown after the winter season). A solid blue wall lines the outfield and all of this causes an unattractive field color scheme.
A clever howl sound is played when the ThunderWolves score a run.
Pueblo is not known as a tourist destination yet it is quite a nice historic town to visit. Pueblo hosts the Colorado State Fair each year in late August
Rawlings Field is on the CSU campus about 5 or so miles from downtown Pueblo and the Riverwalk. No restaurants are within walking distance of the field, though several chain restaurants are off the State Route 40, I-25 exit getting to the university.
I'd recommend traveling a few exits south to the downtown area for better choices of food and beverages. Recommended places for a craft brew and a bite to eat are Shamrock Brewing Company and Brues Alehouse (located right on the Riverwalk). A place for good burgers is Bingo Burger only two blocks from the Riverwalk.
The Riverwalk in Pueblo is a mile long walking trail around the Arkansas River with artwork, places to eat and rest along the way. If it's a nice day, get your steps in by taking a stroll then stop for a craft beer at Brues Alehouse.
Other places to visit in Pueblo are El Pueblo History Museum and the Buell Children's Museum. Or if you get to town early check out the Pueblo Zoo (four miles west of the city).
No hotels are within walking distance of Rawlings Field though there are plenty at the intersections of I-25 and State Route 40. Those include Baymont Inn, LaQuinta Suites, Clarion, and the like. If staying downtown, both the Springhill Suites and the Courtyard Marriot Pueblo are nice places to stay.
Fans trickle in throughout the game. On the day of this review, about 50 or so fans were in the stands (certainly less than 100) so not a whole lot of backing for the team.
They do applaud good plays made by either team.
And there's super nice game day staff.
To get to Rawlings Field, head east from I-25 on to State Route 40. Follow signs to the university and the Neda and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl stadium (football); the baseball field is next to that. Parking is available between the football field and the baseball field.
There is a local bus service, bus route 9 goes to the university (not in operation on Sundays). Pueblo Airport is six miles from the university yet it only services Denver with flights on Great Lakes Airlines. Driving is probably the best method of getting to the game.
Once in the ballpark area, walking around is easy; installing handrails in the bleachers would be an improvement.
Ticket prices for a ThunderWolves game are lower than some of the other RMAC schools.
Prices are $5 adult tickets, $4 seniors and non-CSU students, and CSU students get in for free as do kids under 5. Families (two adults, two kids) can get in for $12. It's all general admission seating. Payment is cash only.
Parking is free.
Is it worth it? If you live in Pueblo then yes. If coming from parts north (Colorado Springs, Denver) or parts south (Trinidad) it may not be worth the drive even with the lower ticket prices, unless of course you want to check out the downtown Pueblo attractions.
CSU-Pueblo has a superb athletic website with lots of information available about the team and its history and it even has links to jpgs of their logos.
Rosters are available on picnic tables in the entryway.
All across the top of the seating area, baseball shaped banners honor previous All American, All Conference, All Regional, etc. players as well as supporters of the ThunderWolves baseball program. On the outside of the stadium other banners display former players, teams and records of the ThunderWolves. It's a remarkable job at recognizing players and the history of the team.
A statue of a baseball player at the entryway honors local businesses and individuals who contributed towards the building of Rawlings Field.
A nice ballpark. A nice town. If you happen to be in Pueblo, CO in the Feb - May timeframe, take the opportunity to see a ballgame at Rawlings Field.
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