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Official Review by Paul Donaldson, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
Located in north Louisiana on the campus Grambling State University, Wilbert Ellis Field at R.W.E. Jones Park serves as home to GSU Tiger baseball. While “Wilbert Ellis Field at Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones Park” is certainly a mouthful, it’s hard to deny the impact both men have had on the program and university. Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones is a beloved former president of Grambling State and Wilbert Ellis is a legendary retired coach of GSU baseball.
Despite being in the shadow of Grambling football and basketball, Wilbert Ellis Field at R.W.E. Jones Park provides Tiger baseball fans with a modern facility equipped with shaded seating areas thanks to overhead awnings.
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".
The ballpark provides basic concessions at a reasonable cost.
The options at the concession stand are limited. However, you can find a couple of satisfying entrée items in the foot-long hot dog for $5, a regular hot-dog for $3, and nachos. Chili & cheese are available at no extra charge. Snacks including assorted candy and chips are available as well. There isn't a menu posted at the concession stand, but the staff working the stand will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
The ballpark serves both canned and bottled Coca-Cola products. Canned drinks are $2 and bottled are $3.
Though there's not much of a variety to choose from, the hot dog with chili and cheese will satisfy your hunger during the game.
Wilbert Ellis Field at R.W.E. Jones Park provides Grambling State baseball with a modern facility and a small-college baseball atmosphere in the comfortable confines of the GSU campus.
The ballpark benefits from recent upgrades to the seating areas. The bricked columns behind the grandstands are complemented with posters memorializing Grambling baseball accomplishments and both coaches embedded in the stadium namesake. On hot and sunny days, the awning which covers both grandstands is certainly a bonus.
There are a few areas where the atmosphere deserves some improvement. Though the chainlink fence surrounding the backstop area looks new, it negatively impacts your view of the field. Replacing this with netting would have a major positive impact. Also, the field itself could use some TLC.
Entertainment throughout the game is strictly on-field play. In a traditional setting, don't expect any shenanigans between innings by the marketing crew. Music is piped in throughout the game, however, the sound system is not adequate for the facility and is of poor quality.
The home-town fans typically sit in the bleacher grandstand along third baseline under the awning. When the weather cooperates, the chairbacks just behind the backstop put you literally right behind the action. Fans of the opposing team typically sit closer to the visitor's dugout in the grandstand down first baseline.
As previously mentioned, being hosted at an on-campus stadium, especially one as appealing and comfortable at Grambling State University is a plus. While city of Grambling certainly doesn't offer a large metropolitan experience, the small college town provides enough to satisfy a day in town for a baseball game.
While in town, be sure to check out Ra'jo's Chicken & Waffles. This unique, local joint serves up its delicious namesake in a friendly environment. Other local options include Spivey's Fried Chicken and Cain Gang Chicken and Waffles.
The GSU campus, in itself, is an attraction. Be sure to spend some time next to the water fountain on campus and checking-out the Greek trees which feature colors of the campus fraternities and sororities on their trunks. The Eddie G. Robinson Museum memorializes one of the winningest college football coaches of all time. It's a must visit while in town. For extended stays, check-out nearby Ruston for additional options. Both Shreveport and Monroe are larger cities and located within driving range.
You won't find adequate lodging in Grambling. Just about 5 miles east in Ruston, however, there will be multiple hotel options. Check-out the Hampton Inn (1315 N Trenton St).
Matching the small college environment is a small, but passionate, fanbase. Fans in attendance are primarily family and friends of the ballplayers themselves, along with a few long-time passionate supporters of GSU athletics.
The typical crowd for Grambling baseball games averages around 50-150. Despite some historical success as a program, baseball has not emerged in the area as a must-see event. Getting more fans out to the ballpark would go a long way towards improving the overall game day experience.
While GSU baseball doesn't feature any specific traditions or chants, families of the players on the field certainly get into the spirit of the game. Expect to hear cheers of support when runs are scored, scorning of umpires when calls go the other way, and words of encouragement when the batter steps into the box.
Access to Wilbert Ellis Field at R.W.E. Jones Park is a mixed bag. The drive to the stadium, access into the gates, and ability to move around once inside are all fairly convenient. The location of Grambling, however, certainly isn't centrally located.
Grambling is accessible of I-20 from both the east and west of the city. Exit onto Hwy 149 and head south towards the GSU campus. Take a left onto College Ave and veer right onto Founder Ave. Immediately turn left onto Younger St. Younger will dead-end at the stadium.
Where Younger meets the ballpark is a parking lot that actually serves the Freshman Village Hall and a couple of other dorms, but you can park here during the game. Parking is free and though you may need to park a little further down the street, there are usually spots available. The green space down below the Freshmen village and ballpark is also available, when necessary.
The ticket booth and main entrance gate are located directly across from each other. You shouldn't experience any lines or frustration as you get your ticket and head into the stadium. Saturday games typically feature a doubleheader. The ticket window staff usually leave for the day beginning around the second inning of the second game.
The concourses inside the stadium are spacious and allow you to move around easily. Restrooms are small, but typically adequate for Grambling baseball crowds.
It's hard to beat the cost of admission to a GSU baseball game. Adults get in for $5 and most small children get in free of charge. The seating areas have numbered seats, but most in attendance generally adhere to a general admission environment. Though your overall investment will be minimal, the experience may leave you somewhat wanting.
Wilbert Ellis Field at R.W.E. Jones Park features a few "extra" items which support the overall game day atmosphere. As you enter the stadium, it's hard to miss the posters which memorialize the GSU baseball past. The displays for both former coaches Wilbert Ellis Field and Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones come with brief descriptions you can read. There's also a poster which lists GSU's SWAC conference titles in baseball.
As you enter the ballpark, the ticket greeter will hand you a free print-out which includes the starting line-ups and game notes.
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302 College Ave Ste D
Grambling, LA 71245
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329 Main St
Grambling, LA 71245
1315 N Trenton St
Ruston, LA 71270