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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
High school softball in South Florida has a bit of a cult following. Players travel from game to game to catch their friends in action, and the best inevitably end up playing on travel teams in the summer. That said, attendance for high school softball games at South Dade, one of the top high school athletic programs in South Florida, is always high. The fans are passionate, and the field itself is always immaculate.
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 lone concession stand at South Dade is small, but it always packs a mighty punch. Every night, there is a special on the menu. Sometimes it is tacos in a bag, others it is freshly-cooked chicken and rice. Their hot dogs and burgers are always freshly grilled, and a wide range of candy and chips is available, as well. Soda, water, and Gatorade/Powerade are also for sale. The best thing is that all of these items are inexpensive. Five bucks can get you a burger, Coke, and chips.
The sport of softball is unique, in that it always has an energy to it, regardless of the score on the field. Players from each team have their own chants and songs they sing when teammates are up to bat. The field also has a great scoreboard to keep fans updated on the scores and stats during the contest. The PA announcers keep the game lively with music in between innings. And to make it all worth while, the seating is perfectly placed, with bleachers right behind home plate, individually-backed VIP seats along the backstop fencing, and picnic tables set up along the left field line.
South Dade, like any typical high school in suburban America, is located in the middle of residential neighborhoods. For lodging, you have to drive a few miles towards the Florida Turnpike to the east or south. The same goes for finding good restaurants and shopping. However, despite its separation from the hub of town, it never feels like it is in an area that could use some TLC. On the contrary, one feels rather safe walking to their car alone at night.
Fans at South Dade softball range from students, fellow athletes, friends and family, and school faculty. They cheer loudly for the home team, boo the umpire's calls, and heckle the officials with the best of them. On any given night, the stands can be full, no matter what the score is on the field. Most of all, the game is a family-friendly affair, and one never has to worry about their kids hearing something they shouldn't out of an angry fan.
The trek out to South Dade isn't difficult with the aid of a GPS. The best route is to exit off the Florida Turnpike at exit 5, and then head west on SW 288th Street. This road will lead you across US 1 and directly to South Dade Senior High. The field itself is on the north-eastern corner of campus. Parking is limited to the sidewalk and tree lawn, unless you wish to park on campus itself and walk.
Ticket prices are low, usually $5 or less. Add to this the low cost of food and beverage, and you have an easy, inexpensive night out to watch tomorrow's college softball stars take to the field in their high school years.
The South Dade softball field is located right next to the baseball stadium, making going from one game to the other easy.
Additionally, there is always something for fans to see when they get up close and personal to the action along the left field line. Here, under the trees, one can sit on the picnic benches and take in the action with unobstructed views of the outfield.
While many may not think of high school softball as something to consider for a sports visit, South Dade softball may surprise you. It is always a clean facility, the staff are always kind and welcoming, and the atmosphere can be top notch. Some would argue South Dade softball is a great example of what high school sports can offer in an unexpected location.
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