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Official Review by Brian Wilmer, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
When most people hear of the University of North Carolina, their minds immediately turn to Chapel Hill. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, though, was founded in 1891, and is quite the successful academic and athletic institution in its own right. Though the school served for over 70 years as an all-female institution, the student body has been co-educational for five decades.
UNCG has also seen its share of success on the athletic fields. The Spartan baseball team defeated in-state foe (and then-number one) North Carolina several years ago in front of the home fans in Greensboro. UNCG has also seen considerable success in soccer and basketball, both within the Southern Conference and on a national level.
The baseball victory over North Carolina took place -- as do all the Spartan home games -- at UNCG Baseball Stadium. This on-campus facility saw its first pitch in 1999, and has earned acclaim from numerous sources. The stadium's facade seems a bit nondescript upon approach, and there are only approximately 900 fixed seats, but the ballpark is beautiful and spacious.
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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 is on the concourse behind the plate, and the offerings sold from the stand are what one would expect from a "mid-major" program. The lone entree choice is a hot dog, priced at $2. Snacks compose the remainder of the menu, with peanuts and popcorn (both $2), sunflower seeds, Cracker Jacks, chips and candy (all $1) helping to get fans through the game. The chips and candy do at least offer some variety, with four different candy brands and four different types of chips.
Pepsi serves as the campus' bottler, with 20-ounce bottled sodas and water available for $2. A cup of ice (should you require one) is $1, with hot chocolate also served for $1.
UNCG Baseball Stadium is near the entrance to the campus, so most of the view beyond the wall is that of trees and campus buildings. There is also a large parking deck beyond the wall in right field. This may not sound picturesque to most, but it looks a lot better than it sounds.
The lone price fans pay for the nice view and the spacious concourse comes from an overall lack of shade in the park. There are small pockets of shade near the press box, restrooms and concessions building, along with a few areas shaded by the field house building down the right field line. A number of fans brought umbrellas to provide shade on the afternoon I visited, and despite the stadium's policies outlawing umbrellas, no one gave those fans any problems. If you choose to bring an umbrella for an afternoon game, though, be aware that you may be asked to put it down.
UNCG Baseball Stadium seats 3,500 fans, though just 889 of those fans have fixed seats. This did not appear to trouble many in attendance when I visited, however, as fans brought blankets to enjoy the berm areas or folding chairs to grab a seat on the concourse. The berm area is incredibly maintained, as is the playing surface. If sitting on grass is not a problem for you, this is one of the better parks I've seen in which to grab a spot on the berm. The UNCG dugout is on the first base side, if this helps your decision process.
The scoreboard is located in right-center field, with a video and informational screen at the top. The screen displays a photo of the current batter or pitcher, along with updated season and in-game stats. The game's line score, ball/strike/out indicators, number of the current batter and the current time are all on display in the portion below the video screen. The board can be a bit tough to see from some of the seats, depending on the angle of the sun. There is also a net in front of the scoreboard, which can obscure the board a bit if you are looking from the right field side.
UNC Greensboro is located near most of the action in the Gate City, just blocks from one of the main thoroughfares in the city (Lee Street) and the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. The school and stadium's proximity to NewBridge Bank Park allows visitors to utilize many of the same downtown attractions and eateries. Most of these places are a mile or so from the park, so a car may be in order if you would rather not make the trek on foot.
Jack's Corner Mediterranean Deli is just across the street from the campus, and is a favorite of many locals. An interesting combination of Greek and American deli fare is offered, including gyros, kabobs, wraps and hoagies. Prices are quite reasonable, and the restaurant goes out of its way to fit into the university district. If a night on the town is not your speed, this is a great place to keep your evening relaxed and casual.
The Atlantic Coast Conference and Greensboro go hand-in-hand, and though UNC Greensboro participates in the Southern Conference, a trip to the ACC Hall of Champions is certainly a nice way to spend a few hours. The Hall of Champions is located in the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, and features uniforms, photos and other items from the conference's past. Fans of the region are sure to enjoy some of the conference's great moments as vividly as they did when they first saw them take place. Admission is quite inexpensive, at $5 for adults and $3 for children (through age 12) or groups of four or more.
Attendance was a bit sparse at the beginning of the game I attended, as the game's start time was moved up two hours in anticipation of rain in the Triad region (which actually never arrived). As the game continued, though, fans started to arrive in greater numbers, eventually making for a fairly solid crowd.
It is unlikely that UNCG would ever "sell out" (more on the reason for the quotation marks later) unless an opponent such as North Carolina visited, but those who do show up love their Spartans. The noise is not deafening, by any means, but there is enough blue and gold in the seats producing cheers at the appropriate times to let you know which is the home side. The level of support is about what one would expect and hope for at this level, though more fans in the stands would always be a nice thing. The quality of the facility is certainly worthy of a full house every night.
As previously mentioned, Lee Street is quite close to the university. Lee, US Highways 29, 70, 220 and 421 and North Carolina Interstates 40 and 85 all travel within a couple of miles of the campus, making for relatively easy ingress and egress.
Most GPS systems find the stadium with little difficulty, though it is often labeled as simply "Baseball Stadium". The intersections of Walker and Aycock (front entrance) or Kenilworth and Theta (rear entrance) will help you find the park with no problem. Parking is plentiful at the front entrance of the stadium, and there is no charge. Just as with any game on a college campus, though, be careful to pay attention to signs indicating the requirement of a permit, as well as dodging foul balls. If you have a stroller or other requirement for a ramp, use the rear (right field) entrance to the ballpark, as the front entrance features a large stairway.
UNCG is also accessible via bus. The Greensboro Transit Authority operates bus service through the area and the city. Bus route 1 serves the campus, with the stop just outside the stadium's gates at Walker and Aycock.
The concourse is very wide -- in fact, as wide as almost any you will find -- and allows for plenty of room to walk, stand or sit. The entire area is open to the field, as well, which means the only time you miss any of the action is if you need to use the restroom. Regarding the restrooms, they are near the concession areas, with clean and updated facilities. Lines should be no problem, as there is enough room for most between-innings rushes.
I almost hesitate to mention this next detail, for fear it may change. There is no admission fee for UNCG games. It seems impossible with a facility this nice and well-maintained that there is no charge for a ticket, but this is certainly a nice surprise.
With free parking, our usual test of a game ticket, parking, a hot dog and a soda comes in at just $4. This allows families of four to take a $20 bill to a game and come away with change. Any Division I baseball -- especially baseball in the highly competitive Southern Conference -- at this price point is well worth a visit.
UNCG has a marketing table set up along the concourse behind the plate. A small "program" is available at the table, including photos of the UNCG players and rosters of both teams. There is not much to the program, but it is free. Fans can also sign up to participate in the in-game promotions at the table.
The back of the press box features a sculpture that is visible throughout the concourse. This artwork features several different scenes of players in action. The sculpture is called "Play at the Plate", and was designed by Brad Spencer.
There is also a field house down the first base line, which houses locker room and hitting areas for players, as well as offices for coaches. The advantage this provides to the fans is that there is a window through which fans can look and see the program's trophy cases. It would be ideal if the university could provide a way to go inside and see these items, but the view through the window is at least somewhat unique.
UNCG Baseball Stadium is a relaxed facility, in more ways than one. There is plenty of room to stretch out, relax and enjoy the game without feeling cramped. There are also minimal intrusions from wacky sound effects and excess crowd noise. If you're looking for a nicely-maintained facility that allows you to appreciate the outdoors and the national pastime, make a note to add a UNCG game to your travel itinerary.
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304 N Greene St
Greensboro, NC 27401