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Official Review by Chris Green, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Taking in a baseball game at FGCU is a different experience than most baseball stadiums. For one, your viewing angle, even in the first row, is about 15 feet above ground level. Secondly, the stadium offers seating along the sides of home plate at ground level for an up-close feel. Best of all is the stunning sunsets one can see, thanks to the stadium’s northward-facing viewing angle.
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".
While there isn't anything special about FGCU's food, it is freshly grilled and it is inexpensive. Usually, the Eagles have hot dogs and burgers on the menu. These are always grilled on-site fresh as you order them. They also have a wide variety of candy, snacks, and drinks, with nothing costing more than $4. Because of this, cost for your concessions is going to stay low, even if you buy enough for the whole family on game day.
FGCU isn't yet known as a baseball powerhouse, and the fans don't necessarily pack in the stands. Half-full stadiums are normal for the home of the Eagles. The colors are bright and reminiscent of those inside neighboring Alico Arena. The stadium also is somewhat empty underneath the main seating in the concourse area. However, there is a fan merchandise trailer outside of the side entrance. The seats themselves are very comfortable, form-fitted to make any viewing location one of comfort and not aches.
FGCU is a somewhat secluded college campus southeast of Fort Myers, meaning it is situated in a less developed area of a suburb. Within driving distance, there are numerous shopping areas with a growing number of restaurants, stores, and attractions. All of the campus' athletic facilities are in one section of the college's property, making getting to a game easy to do night in and night out. For somewhere to stay, one has to look no further than just outside of campus, where several hotels have popped up in the last few years.
The fans don't necessarily pack 'em in for FGCU baseball, unless there is a major opponent. Even then, in-state opponents like FAU draw about one-third visiting fans. A lot of students do attend the games, due to their free entry for attending the college, but not as many are hardcore fans, nor for that matter do they necessarily pay attention to the game 100 percent of the time. Plenty of FGCU attendees are also older, thanks in part to the demographics of the greater Naples area. That said, those who do attend the games are pretty family-friendly for college athletics, and they do erupt in applause when a home run is smacked out of the park.
Getting to FGCU is very easy, thanks to its location near I-75. Located between two major exits on the highway, the campus is well-marked and easy to find. Once on campus, finding the athletics facilities, including Swanson Stadium or anywhere else on campus for that matter, is a breeze, as the signage at FGCU is plentiful and detailed. In addition, parking is plentiful in the area for athletic events at the college. The location of the facilities on the northeastern corner of the campus makes getting to events a breeze. Parking even at the furthest lot only means a short five-minute walk to Swanson Stadium.
Ticket prices are ultra low, concessions are ultra low, and parking is free. This said, it is hard not to see a massive return on your investment, especially when taking your whole family out for a night of baseball. FGCU is known for being family-friendly, welcoming to new fans, and very affordable, compared to other sports options in Florida. You really do get a sense of having fun at FGCU and it helps that the team is growing in popularity among the college ranks.
Fans almost always are greeted with a free giveaway table at the main entrance, which usually includes posters and wristbands, but sometimes includes more.
Fans also are mere steps away from the school's other athletic facilities for FGCU Tennis, FGCU Softball, and FGCU Basketball/Volleyball. If you want to catch any other games going on in the same day, hopping between the two is a breeze.
Finally, for the hardcore fans in all of us, FGCU puts out the starting lineups for both the home and visiting teams right at the main entrance before every game. This makes it easy for you to follow along if you are a hardcore fan of the school, the sport, or even coming to scout some of tomorrow's stars.
Swanson Stadium has everything one needs to be a great stadium. The bones are there, now it just is up to the meat of the stadium improving, as well. For fans, comfortable seating and high value for your dollar are to be expected, and an exciting night out in a town otherwise known as being generally quiet and mellow.
Member Review by hhuntley17 on Mar 30, 2015
In its short history of about 20 years, Florida Gulf Coast University has made tremendous strides. The school was founded in 1993 and held its first classes in 1997. The school then grew to 14,200 students as of 2015. It’s safe to say that athletics played a role in the growth. The Eagles' 2012-13 basketball team became known as “Dunk City,” as their 15th seed turned into a Sweet 16 bid. The baseball team, while less famous, owns a nice legacy of its own, mostly due to Chicago White Sox pitcher Chris Sale. The three-time All-Star’s number is retired here at FGCU, and he is probably the school’s most famous alumni to date. Swanson Stadium is the home of the Eagles, and while it may not be the most fancy venue, it is a fine spot to watch some baseball in sunny Florida.
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