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Official Review by Dan Buffa, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Torii Hunter may have had a vision when he donated $500,000 to his home town of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, but I am not sure the result is what he dreamed about. Torii Hunter Complex, which holds home games for the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions baseball team, is located in a horribly underdeveloped neighborhood and holds zero atmosphere or payback for a visiting baseball fan. Located right next to a large college football stadium and parking lot, Delta Natural Kraft Field doesn't have suitable parking or food. There is zero spirit and it also happens to smell like sewage and horse manure.
Built and opened in 2011, the field seats 1,000 fans but comes nowhere near to filling the stands. It would be best to skip this complex and experience entirely. For a college field and location, it's horribly rendered. Torii Hunter's donation gave him the right to put his name on it but he definitely didn't put any care into it and the name of the field comes from a local Kraft brown paper company. It's a by the book result that's got zero passion. Let's dig into the details.
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".
What food and beverage is more like it? Bring your own. There is one small stand where overcooked and dried up hot dogs can be purchased along with bagged chips and warm bottles of water. The major soda brand is Coca-Cola, but don't expect them to be properly chilled. Food options are remote. Most people bring their own food.
Do you like hearing fans chirp the opposing dugout and have senseless shouting drown out the integrity and joy of watching a baseball game? If so, this place is all for you. The entire time I was there fans screamed at the dugouts and there was very little passion from the fans.
There are zero banners or jerseys on display. The scoreboard is standard and gives little more than the essential information. The PA system blares loud music before each at bat but doesn't offer much else. This looks like a high school game instead of a college baseball setting.
The seating options are three sets of hard bleachers with not a lot of room to get comfortable, and the thick netting makes it hard to feel close to the game. You could stand along the railings, but there are zero unique seating features.
The neighborhood around the ballpark is a terribly underdeveloped area. Farm houses and large fields surround the stadium and the smell is rather disgusting. There are no wide streets or parking spots for the complex. One narrow road is where cars park and when that fills up you have to pull down the street into the large and vacant football parking lot. If you looked down at the neighborhood from an airplane, you would tell the pilot to keep going or stop elsewhere.
There are two moderately priced hotels located about two miles from the complex, but they aren't desirable. There is nothing close by and you probably won't want to stay overnight.
The fans are loud, but I wouldn't necessarily call them passionate. Loud and louder are the key words for this group. There are a few passionate parents, but they get drowned out by the kids shouting rude statements at the dugouts and it's hard to enjoy that. The security guard during my most recent visit was pretty relaxed and had no reason to tell the kids to take their feet off the ledge to the field as they were leaning off the bleachers near the playing surface. It looked like a child playground more than a civilized baseball location. There couldn't have been more than 200 people in the stands that hold a capacity of 1,000 fans.
One road in and one road out. The road is narrow and not easy to make your trek down. I traveled down I-530 in from Little Rock and it's right off University Rd and hard to miss. The ticketing table is right next to the one food option and it's $7 for adults and $3 for kids. There is one security guard and he is not active at all. The ticket is the same kind of ticket you would get at a professional baseball stadium.
There is zero return on your sports dollar here. You take your wife and kid to the game and you will easily spend $20-$30 on keeping the kid entertained, your stomach in painful condition and having to sift through the loud heckling fans to soak up any enjoyment of watching a baseball game. The players are talented. The baseball diamond itself is nice, but you can't appreciate it for long.
If you do decide to come to Pine Bluff to see the Golden Lions, save some money by bringing your own food and have some headphones to put on because the sound effects aren't great.
You can't buy any shirts, and you don't see any memorabilia. The tickets are okay but nothing to frame. Parking is horrible. There are no tours and there is no need for one either. The skyline of the fields and main road is all you get when looking around. There is an adjacent women's softball field. but that is it.
Torii Hunter Baseball Complex leaves a lot to be desired. Unless you're traveling because you're a friend or family member of one of the players, then there is nothing worth seeing or experiencing at this facility.
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