Photos by Michael Davis, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.57
Alex Box Stadium at Skip Bertman Field 3277 Gourrier Ave Baton Rouge, LA 70820
Year Opened: 2009
Tigers in the Box
Alex Box Stadium at Skip Bertman Field is located on the Louisiana State University campus in Baton Rouge. Alex Box Stadium has been the home stadium of the LSU Tigers baseball team since 1938. However, the current ballpark was constructed in 2009 and lies 400 yards south from the original site.
Alex Box Stadium is named for Simeon Alex Box, an LSU letterman on the 1942 team, who was killed in North Africa during World War II. Alex Box earned the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross during his service. Skip Bertman Field was added to the stadium’s official title on May 17, 2013, prior to a game against Ole Miss. Skip Bertman was a former LSU head baseball coach and athletic director.
Alex Box Stadium has a natural grass playing surface featuring a seating capacity of 10,326. There is artificial turf in the foul territories. The field size is 330 ft down the lines with a 365 ft power alley, and a 405 ft center field with a 10-foot fence.
Alex Box Stadium continues to lead college baseball in attendance, as it has for 23 consecutive years. The Box has hosted 25 NCAA regional tournaments, 10 NCAA regional series, and 4 SEC tournaments. The largest paid attendance according to LSU is 12,844 against Notre Dame, although there is a statement by LSU that the largest actual attendance figure is 11,401 on June 8, 2013 vs Oklahoma in a Super Regional matchup.
Food & Beverage 4
There are numerous concessions stands available throughout the stadium. There are permanent concession stands on both sides of the baselines on the lower level concourse and the main concourse above the first level seating area. These concessions have your ballpark favorites, as well as a few regional items. Entree items include the Tiger burger ($7), hot dogs ($4), sausage po-boys ($8), and chicken tender baskets ($10), with the regional item being the Cajun Jambalaya ($8). The rest of the menu consists of snacks and sides, such as nachos ($5), chili cheese fries ($6), French fries ($4), popcorn ($5), and peanuts ($4.50). In addition, for the frugal person a bottomless popcorn for $8 is a great way to snack during the game.
The options besides the main concessions are located on the lower level with a Chick-fil-A stand selling $7 chicken sandwiches and $3 waffle fries. BurgerSmith’s food truck is also on the lower level (third base side) and serves great burgers ($9), fried okra ($5) and alligator sausage ($9). LSU concessions serves Coca-Cola products – a 22oz soda costs $4.50, but for $7 you can receive a 32oz souvenir cup with a free refill. There are two choices of Dasani bottled water; a 1-liter bottle is available for $5.50 while the 1/2-liter costs $3. There are plenty of water fountains to refill bottles, so the smaller bottle would be frugal. Other beverages sold are frozen lemonade, Powerade, and both coffee and hot chocolate; these beverages range around $5 in cost. There’s no alcohol sold inside Alex Box Stadium, but overall, the food and beverages here are above standard, and provide fans with enough options while inside The Box.
From the moment you arrive at Alex Box Stadium the atmosphere begins. The main entrance gives fans an opportunity to visit Gerry Lane Championship Plaza, which pays homage to the LSU baseball national championship teams. The next item for fans is a large Mike the Tiger statue and the Wally Pontiff Jr. Baseball Hall of Fame. As you enter the stadium, you can either walk the outer concourse along a fence that has a baseball design, or make your way up to the main concourse between the lower and upper tiers behind home plate.
As you look out over the stadium’s ballfield, you see the Intimidator billboard in right field, LSU’s Tiger Stadium in center, and the new updated video-scoreboard over the left field landing. In addition, if you walk down to the lower level concourse, at each end in the outfield you’ll find a large playground. LSU fans that arrive when the gates open also collaborate near the Tigers pitching mound in right field; this area has plenty of players warming up and they are available for photos.
The LSU game day crew keep fans engaged between innings with low-key on-field events and piped in music, but during the game it is all about the LSU faithful. The LSU fans energy and spirit are very well in tune with what the Tigers are doing on the playing field – there are plenty of L-S-U or Geaux Tigers chants throughout the game. The large active crowd inside a beautiful college ballpark that could outdo some professional ballparks creates an atmosphere that is simply the best in college baseball.
Alex Box Stadium is on the LSU campus, a few miles south from downtown Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The campus enrollment is close to 31,000 and consists of more than 250 buildings constructed in the style of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio; the campus occupies a 650-acre plateau on the east banks of the Mississippi River.
The area just off the interstate isn’t much to see, but on the north end of campus off Highland Road is Chimes Street – Chimes Street is a good place to find many local bars and restaurants to enjoy yourself. There are plenty of food options available with Chinese food, sushi, BBQ joints, southern cuisine, and sports bars where you can watch other games. The closest spot for a pre-game or post-game meal near The Box is Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar on Burbank Drive. Walk-On’s is a great spot for food and drinks, but others nearby on Burbank Drive are Mellow Mushroom for pizza, or if you’re looking for buffalo wings, there is Plucker’s off Nicolson Drive.
For fans who enjoy local breweries, try visiting Tin Roof Brewing Company. No matter where you are in Baton Rouge, you will be able to find food and beverage to your liking within a short drive. Baton Rouge has plenty of lodging, but there are a couple of places within walking distance from campus. Near Walk-On’s and down Nicholson Drive from the stadium is a 3-star hotel, Staybridge Suites Baton Rouge, while on the east side of campus is the Cook Hotel and Conference Center at LSU.
There are plenty of attractions near the Louisiana State University campus – the first attraction is inside Alex Box Stadium in the form of the Wally Pontiff Jr. Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is a place that provides fans the history of LSU baseball. However, a trip to LSU wouldn’t be complete unless you take a visit to Mike’s habitat to see Mike the Tiger. Mike the Tiger is a famed live Bengal Tiger residing between Tiger Stadium and the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
There are also plenty of options off campus, such as the Magnolia Mound Plantation, a wonderful tourist spot to visit between the LSU campus and downtown Baton Rouge. Downtown Baton Rouge also has both the old and new capitol buildings, the latter being one of the tallest buildings in Baton Rouge, and there is also the L’Auberge casino, Baton Rouge Zoo, and much more to see in Baton Rouge besides the game. However, one of my favorite tourist spots is the USS Kidd, a Fletcher-class destroyer from WWII, now a National Historic Landmark/museum ship berthed on the Mississippi River.
The LSU Tigers fan base is one of the loudest and most dedicated, and possibly the best fan base in college sports, across the board. Tigers fans are loyal baseball fans that consistently fill The Box for home games – LSU has dominated NCAA baseball attendance, leading the nation in average home crowd since 1998. In fact, the back side of the Intimidator sign states, Baseball at The Box: College Baseball’s Greatest Fans.
The fans are always involved in the game from clapping in support of the pitcher when the batter has two strikes, or the Geaux Tigers chants throughout the game, and the fans energy just continues beyond that. LSU fight songs are also piped in, including “Fight For LSU” and “Hey Fighting Tiger.” There are very few college baseball fans that match the fan participation at LSU’s Alex Box Stadium.
Alex Box Stadium is located on the southwest side of the LSU campus. Nicholson Drive is the main route to the stadium and can be directly accessed from I-10. The lots directly around Alex Box Stadium are reserved primarily for season ticket holders and can only be purchased as a full-season pass; otherwise the parking cost is $10 per vehicle if space is available.
There is free parking available in Gourrier South, The Hayfield, or Levee South to the west of the stadium, and there are two ways to reach these parking lots; drive on Gourrier Ave past the stadium’s reserved lots and the parking lots will be towards River Road and the Rec fields. Or, to avoid congested traffic at the stadium reserved lots, take Skip Bertman Drive to River Road, then turn onto Gourrier from the west heading east. No matter which direction you decide to take the free parking is a short walk to the stadium. Alternatively, the “Old Front Nine” grass lot at the corner of Nicholson Drive and Burbank Drive across from The Box also provides free parking, and this a great spot to utilize for accessing both Walk-On’s sports pub and Alex Box Stadium.
The main entrance to Alex Box Stadium is located directly behind home plate via the Gerry Lane Championship Plaza. The Wally Pontiff Jr. Hall of Fame and LSU ticket windows will be located to your left (third base side). There are entrance gates down both first and third baselines, but these entrances are on the lower concourse and show no view of the ballfield. The upper concourse, though, is above the seating levels and has a view the game as you walk around.
There are plenty of restroom facilities throughout the ballpark and lines are non-existent. An elevator is available behind home plate for the club suites. In addition, despite the stadium being close to capacity daily, there is plenty of room to navigate. Note that LSU’s security measures follow the Geaux Clear policy, meaning nothing is allowed in except clear totes (plastic, vinyl, or PVC) no larger than 12”X 6”X 12”, 1-gallon clear zip top bags, or small clutch purses no larger than 4½” X 6½”, and seat cushions with no pockets and not larger than 16” (see www.LSUsports.net/GeauxClear). Overall, the access is easy for the number of fans that attend Tigers baseball.
Return on Investment 5
There are a couple of ways to look at the return on investment at Alex Box Stadium. For as low as $12, you can have a ticket to one of the premier college baseball venues in the country, and if you are lucky enough to obtain a bleacher or reserved seat, the cost will be $18. There is also plenty of free parking near the ballpark. The concessions costs are reasonable but not overly cheap, however the atmosphere for attending a Tigers baseball game at The Box is unmatched in college baseball.
The LSU baseball experience is unheard of in college baseball – the whole LSU baseball experience is an extra that only a couple of other baseball programs could possibly match. The LSU fans dominate in attendance over the last two decades and the atmosphere is simply amazing. In addition, the Wally Pontiff Jr. LSU Baseball Hall of Fame is a wonderful museum for fans to learn about the Tigers baseball program. The museum is open throughout the game for fans to visit, however, Tigers fans are loyal, so you won’t see many fans walking around the stadium during the game action.
One of the first things you’ll notice when entering The Box is the “Intimidator” billboard in right field. The image of a growling tiger and the six National Championship years listed is like walking into Boston’s Fenway Park and seeing the iconic Green Monster. There are also multiple large playground areas for families attending the game, as well as the availability to buy LSU apparel around the stadium with two LSU SportShops.
Another plus is the honor that LSU has for the country’s military – the Chair of Honor on the concourse is an unoccupied seat in honor of those who are still Prisoners of War (POW) or Missing In Action (MIA), and symbolizes there will always be a place in the stadium awaiting their return.
The atmosphere at Alex Box Stadium is impeccable – all the great things that sports fans hear about watching a game at LSU’s Alex Box Stadium don’t match the reality. The reality of a game at The Box is much better. A trip to LSU’s Alex Box Stadium should be on every college baseball fan’s list, as it is one of the best stadium experiences in all of sports.