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Official Review by Harrison Huntley, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Unless you live in or around Savannah, Georgia, you probably know very little about Savannah State University. The school is an HBCU located on the outskirts of Savannah. SSU’s Tigers compete in the MEAC, a Division I conference composed entirely of HBCUs. Prior to joining the MEAC, the athletic program enjoyed success at both the D2 and D3 levels. Of course, moving up to D1 meant less success (at least initially), but the Tigers managed to win three conference titles in just their first four years in the MEAC. One of those conference championships came in 2013, and it belonged to the baseball team. The Tigers baseball team won their division and the MEAC tournament on their way to their first NCAA regional appearance. The baseball program is certainly on the rise, but it’s important to remember where they came from, especially when talking about their stadium. Since the team so recently joined Division I, Tiger Baseball Field is still a low-budget facility. As the team continues its rise, I would expect the facility to improve with it. For now, the small and simple facility provides a easy way for fans to watch the team.
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".
Concessions are located behind the third base dugout in a small brick building. Here you'll find the basic stadium fare with good pricing. Hot dogs are only $2, as are Coke products and water. The most expensive item on the menu is a basket of five wings for $4. Honestly, there's nothing wrong with this concussion stand. There are no local specialty or luxury items, but you won't overpay for your food here.
Again, I have a hard time knocking this facility. The school recently moved up from Division II and made the necessary improvements to field a competitive team. There just isn't much to this stadium. The seating area is made entirely of metal bleachers and comes complete with a tiny box in the middle used for announcing and keeping score. Fans can also sit around the stadium in the lawn areas.
The sound system is...well, kind of distracting. There is a single speaker mounted on the aforementioned brick building. Since it's so far away from the seating area, the speaker needs to be quite loud. For those seated the appropriate distance from the speaker, this works well. On the other hand, if you sit on the third base side of the bleachers, you won't be able to hear much during announcements and music.
The scoreboard sits behind the right field fence. It's a simple nine-inning scoreboard that covers all the necessities. Stadium lights are one of the few luxuries of this field. Not all D1 baseball fields boast stadium lighting, so I suppose that makes this facility a bit nicer.
Let me start this section off by saying that at Stadium Journey, we rate a neighborhood first and foremost by what is in the immediate area. I say this because if Tiger Baseball Field were anywhere near downtown Savannah, this would easily be a 5. The fact is, downtown Savannah is a 15 to 20 minute drive from the SSU campus.
Within the immediate area, you'll see a dollar store, a seafood market, and a sports bar. With the sports bar being a possible exception, these aren't the exactly places you want to see after the game.
Now let's talk about downtown Savannah. If you've never been, surely you've heard from people how great it is. Everyone has their favorites in Savannah, and you should absolutely look around the area. There's no shame in acting like a tourist in a city like this.
Every fan here is a friend or family member of a player which isn't always a bad thing. At this field though, there just aren't enough fans to speak of. I don't expect parents to be getting up out of their seats and yelling, but most are content in their own conversations. I hope that if the team becomes more relevant, some students might come out to the games. For now, though, there just isn't much of a fan base here.
I-95 runs about 20 minutes away from the city, making it easy access from anywhere on the east coast. You'll take I-16 to I-516, which will lead you right to the campus. Once you get to SSU, you must talk to a guard who shows you where to park. Parking is free and is just across the street from the game.
There is no cost to attend a Savannah State baseball game, and with concessions being so cheap, you probably won't spend more than $10 to eat and see a game. Do you get a good return on your investment? I suppose since you're investing very little, the answer is yes.
The only thing of interest around the stadium is the Blue Angel replica plane displayed near the complex. It was donated by the Naval Air Force Museum to SSU's Navy ROTC program.
There just isn't much to this stadium. It's not anyone's fault, per se. This is just a small school that is relatively new to D1 athletics. That doesn't mean it's a bad stadium or not worth the experience. If you live near Savannah and enjoy baseball, you should absolutely come to a free game at SSU.
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