Jackie Robinson is a name known throughout baseball, but before becoming famous with the Dodgers, he was a four sport letter recipient at UCLA. Being the first to achieve this feat, it’s only appropriate that a UCLA facility be named for him.
Many have confused this stadium with Jackie Robinson Ballpark, located in Daytona, FL. It has also been confused with Jackie Robinson Field at Brookside Park, which interestingly enough is located next to UCLA’s other facility, the Rose Bowl.
The baseball stadium opened in 1981 thanks to a private gift from Hoyt Pardee, a former classmate of Jackie Robinson. The new stadium would be UCLA’s sixth home field in its history and the famous Jackie Robinson statue was dedicated in 1985.
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Upon entering, most fans who ascend the steps will be treated to the smell of hot dogs and onions being grilled just in front of the snack stand on the first base side.
The menu was surprising short, with the hot link ($6), hot dog ($4), hamburger ($5, add cheese for $0.50) being the main entrees. The balance of the menu included nachos ($3), candy ($1), Cracker Jack ($1.50), cookies ($1.50), peanuts ($2), chips ($2), popcorn ($3), soft pretzel ($2.50), and a cup of noodles for $2.
Dessert options were limited to a Haagen Dazs bar ($3) and ice cream sandwich ($2). All beverages (Coke products, water, coffee, hot tea, and hot cocoa) were available for $2.
I did appreciate the condiment bar that was available behind the grandstand. They had packets of all of your favorite toppings to allow easy transport back to your seat as well as fresh onions and jalapenos.
Despite being a stone's throw from a major freeway and minutes from a large downtown area, the trees that surround the stadium seem keep the external forces away.
Immediately upon climbing the steps to the main concourse, fans were treated to a table that would enhance their experience. There was a frequent fan card (offered raffle ticket for each game attended during the season at the final game), scorecard, baseball bingo card, trivia, a free baseball card of one player, and opportunities to win free gifts. This definitely kept fans of all ages and genders more involved in what was going on and subsequently seemed to make for a better time for all.
The crowd certainly was not as rowdy as UCLA fans would come to expect from the basketball venue, Pauley Pavilion, but it is your standard college baseball atmosphere.
The stadium is located just minutes from campus and the Westwood Village. If the opportunity to walk the campus presents itself, I would highly recommend it. On campus is the Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, Bruin Bear sculpture, the inverted fountain, and the Frank D. Murphy Sculpture Garden to see.
If you are willing to go just a little further on the 405 North, the famous JP Getty Museum sits atop a nearby hill. Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Venice Beach are also just a few miles away.
While there are not any restaurants in practical walking distance, there are countless options just a few miles away. The Westwood Village offers just about any type of restaurant fans could ask for. Some restaurants on the opposite side of the 405 from campus include California Pizza Kitchen, Tavern Restaurant, Cheesecake Factory, Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa, Toscana, and the Coral Tree Café.
Bruin fans are easily some of the best when it comes to wearing their team colors. Most of the fans did appear a bit older, possibly driven by the stadium being in an upscale neighborhood a little ways off campus.
The fan interaction was not anything beyond what I have experienced at other college baseball venues. The fans cheered for their team during the appropriate times and jeered the umpires when they disagreed with a call.
The stadium is located just minutes off of the 405 freeway and can be accessed on foot from the UCLA campus.
Once inside the stadium, fans with find a single concourse with bucket seating below it from first to third base. Should the comfortable bucket seating overflow, there is also a set of bleachers above the concourse between third base and home plate that looks as if it has survived a nuclear war.
Parking is listed on the UCLA website as $10, yet it was $8 when I arrived at the lot. I would assume the price varies depending on the magnitude of the game.
There is only a single restroom area on site and the men's room had only three stations. The restrooms looked as if they were in need of a remodel and I would assume that they back up quickly during bigger games.
The ticket prices were very reasonable for a larger school in Los Angeles. Adult ticket prices were $7, while youth went for $5.
The parking fee was more than the price of admission, but Westwood is one of the few places that is tough to locate reasonable parking. Despite the lacking menu, everything seemed priced correctly for a ballgame.
All in all, there are many entertainment options in the area around Westwood, but few offer a value such as this.
Easily the foremost attraction at the ballpark is the statue of Jackie Robinson along the first base line. The plaque below reads, "The Name. The Legend. The Man." He was the first four letter athlete in UCLA history (football, basketball, baseball,and track), and is celebrated throughout the stadium. His image is also shown on the right-centerfield wall.
All around the concourse fans can view banners that show recent major league players that formerly appeared in a Bruin's uniform. Some of the players that appear on these banners include Hector Embriz, Garrett Atkins, Todd Zeile, Eric Byrnes, Chase Utley, Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole, Dave Roberts, Troy Glaus, and Eric Karros.
Just next to the ticket office, there is a large ProGrass logo with a patch of the synthetic grass. For fans that have never had a chance to walk on or feel field turf, this presents a good opportunity.
It's funny that Jackie Robinson is largely credited with breaking the color barrier, yet he was not even the first Black player on the UCLA baseball team. The man credited with being the first was Kenny Washington, and he would eventually have his number 13 retired. Today, fans can spot his number 13 in left field, honoring the man they called, "Kingfish."
Lastly of note is the Jack and Rhodine Gifford hitting facility. Located beyond the right field fence, this area allows fans a peek at the practice facilities and a free view through the fence at the action on the field.
I certainly did enjoy the modern feel of the stadium, great sound-system, Jackie Robinson statue, and solid showing from the fanbase during my visit.
The only thing that would keep me from visiting more often is the 405 traffic near Santa Monica; it seems to take hours to move five miles on some days. Beyond that, this experience certainly presents a much greater baseball value than does the Dodgers or Angels.
Follow Drew's travels through Southern California on Twitter @Big10Drew
This review is from 2011. The ballpark is located west of the UCLA campus on Constitution Avenue. Take the Wilshire exit off the 405 and go north on Sepulveda one block, then left at Constitution.
UCLA baseball has not been historically popular, but lately they have become a hot ticket, so get there early to get a parking spot.
The stadium itself is quite small with about 1600 seats that only stretch partway to the bases. All seats are protected here, which makes sense as college ball uses aluminum bats. There's also a couple of recently-added bleacher sections higher up to help with the overflow crowds.
Tickets are general admission, so again an early arrival is recommended as it was quite full by game time.
It's 330 down the lines and 395 to center, but the ball doesn't carry well here, at least in the evening games. There were at least two hits that I thought would be home runs, but both were caught at the wall. Just beyond the right field fence is the 405 and you can watch the traffic zooming by (or crawling if it's rush hour) during the inning breaks.
Three banners for ex-Bruins who made the majors (Todd Zeile, Eric Karros, Garrett Atkins) are present but that is about the only history here. There is a statue of Jackie Robinson next to the marketing table, which is where you can get a free copy of the program.
11648 West San Vicente Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90049
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