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Official Review by Chad Minton, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The first official day of spring ended up bringing some great weather for this particular visit to Reese Smith Jr. Field, home of Middle Tennessee State baseball. It doesn’t take long to understand why Reese Smith Jr. Field is considered one of the better baseball complexes NCAA baseball has to offer. Built in 1979, Reese Smith Jr. Field has a seating capacity of 2,600 and is an excellent place to enjoy some college baseball.
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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".
It was a pleasant surprise to see how many options the concession stands offered, and such a wide variety. Along with the ballpark basics like popcorn and peanuts, the menu also offers unique items. These items included bratwursts, a grilled bologna sandwich, and frozen lemonade.
Perhaps the most refreshing part was that nothing cost more than $5, and they were also doing a special promotion where you could get a Nathan's hot dog, a bag of popcorn, and large drink for $9. This was a very convenient option for families.
The ballpark has a brick layout that gives it a beautiful presentation. The blue bucket seats were cozy and gave off a nice presentation.
You will have no problem at all enjoying yourself at Reese Smith Jr. Field if you enjoy going out to the ballpark for America's pastime. The audio system is crisp and you can sit as close as you want with your general admission ticket to get a real feel for the game.
There wasn't much that stood out about the atmosphere that would set it apart from other college ballparks, but it was still a fun place to catch some baseball.
Like all of Middle Tennessee State's sports facilities, Reese Smith Jr. Field is located directly on campus. If going to bars is you're kind of thing, then you're within walking distance of a few student favorites. There aren't many fast food chains in the immediate area, but a popular Mexican restaurant entitled La Siesta is also within walking distance and is a relaxing place with great prices.
Murfreesboro is full of historical parks and monuments, but you do have to drive a few miles from the field if you're a visiting fan.
For the most part the fans were a vocal bunch that gave the ump plenty of grief about the strike zone, or lack thereof. However, there were other times when the crowd was almost non-existent. Some of that could have been attributed to the fact that it was a pitcher's duel with very little offense from the Blue Raiders or the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech. Considering it was a weeknight, it was impressive to see the stadium about 70 percent full. Many were students, but it was still great to see a good turnout.
The game was tied 1-1 until the bottom of the eighth when the Blue Raiders pulled ahead for good, and the fans definitely gave it a very impressive roar after taking the lead.
There is a very small parking lot located right in front of the entrance, but odds are you'll never see that lot if you're not familiar with the campus. You'll most likely end up in the main parking lot that serves all of the sports facilities. It's kind of confusing on where to walk from here due to the fact that the football practice field is right next to the baseball field. Since you can't walk through the football practice field, you have to keep your eyes peeled to find a narrow walkway that goes along the outfield fence. You're also limited on which way you can walk around the field because the football stadium is up against the leftfield wall, keeping you from walking around that way.
Tickets were all general admission for $6. This price seemed a little steep for a baseball program that has very little tradition. It would be understandable for a team like UCLA or South Carolina, but not such a small program out of the Sun Belt Conference. What made it somewhat acceptable was that you can literally sit wherever you want in the ballpark, and that makes for a relaxing experience.
This experience was loaded with extras, starting with the metal stamps that were on each seat that would say such things as "In Honor Of" or "In Dedication To". It was cool to see some of these people get honored by the ballpark.
The ballpark was also doing a canned food drive that offered a free bag of popcorn to fans who donated items. What a great way to help the community and get involved.
During the seventh inning stretch, "God Bless America" was played over the sound system, which was a new experience for me at a baseball game during that particular point in the game.
Finally, you always see banners hanging from the rafters at basketball venues. Reese Smith Jr. Field accomplishes this with the Lee Victory Wall of Champions, which lists all of the numerous championships on a giant blue wall in leftfield. It's a pretty neat thing that sticks out while viewing the game.
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