- Aaron S. Terry
Bainton Field – Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 1.86
Bainton Field 25 Hospital Rd Piscataway, NJ 08854
Rutgers Scarlet Knights website
Year Opened: 1980s
Afternoon Baseball in Jersey
Rutgers installed a new FieldTurf baseball surface in 2007, thanks to a generous donation from Ron and Pat Bainton. The venue, formerly known as the Frederick E. Gruninger Class of 1953 Baseball Complex, was renamed in the Bainton’s honor after the upgrade, and the Scarlet Knights’ baseball team has enjoyed a 60%+ win rate since that time. The all-weather FieldTurf is used at professional and college football, baseball, and soccer stadiums all over the country, and allows fields to be usable (and makes them much safer) even in the worst of weather conditions.
Note that only the playing surface itself is new – the rest of the complex was built much longer ago, back in the mid-eighties, and you can tell this from the heavy wear on the sign out front. I wish I could be more precise as to the timing, but the vaunted Internet failed me for the first time ever while I was writing this review – after over an hour of searching I was unable to pinpoint the exact year. I do know it was built around the time that Fred Hill starting coaching baseball at Rutgers, and I also know that Fred Gruninger served as athletics director at Rutgers for 25 years (1973-1998), was inducted into the NACDA Hall of Fame in 2006, currently lives in North Carolina, and has a sweet pension (over six figures).
Food & Beverage 1
With a stated capacity for baseball of 1500, the food & beverage options are very disappointing, especially when you consider that the snack cart is shared by both the baseball and softball facilities. Only 8 options are offered – hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, candy, and chips, plus soda, bottled water, and Gatorade. Everything is $3 except for chips and water, which are $2. Thankfully admission is free, however, and there are other restaurants nearby, so you can walk over and get back in without any problem (see the Neighborhood section for more details).
Some have compared Bainton to a high school venue, due to the quasi-temporary banks of metal bleachers dotted around the field, although most of them do have chair back rails, which is a plus. There are 5 sets, including one behind the outfield, 3 between the dugouts, and another near 3rd base, which is painted a different color than the others so was probably added later. The bleachers are raised, but you can walk right up to the infield fence if you want to get closer to the action.
Bainton Field does have a couple of unique features, although none of them are good – first off, they don’t have any lights, so they can’t play night games here (hence the title of this review). In fact, a game was called recently due to darkness, and thus ended in a tie, which is very unsatisfying (personally I don’t think ties should be allowed in any sport, especially in the NFL where a tie can sometimes let a team squeak into the playoffs against a more deserving team).
Another unique negative at Bainton is that the press box is open-air, and at field-level, which doesn’t allow very good views of the action, and is probably annoying for the announcers because fans are walking around right behind them to get to and from the seats – this is the only stadium I have seen where the fans actually sit higher than the announcers. Lastly, the bathrooms and snack cart are not technically part of the complex – it isn’t like they are that far away from the stands, but you do have to go for a short walk to get to them. Check out the video to see these unique features for yourself:
The main campus for Rutgers University is located in New Brunswick, NJ, and is actually divided into 5 sections. Bainton Field is part of what they call the Livingston Campus, which is located across the river from New Brunswick in Piscataway Township (which is a lot of fun to say). If you are looking to stay the weekend, there is not a ton to do in Piscataway, although New York and Baltimore are only an hour or two away depending on traffic, so there is that.
As I mentioned earlier there are a few restaurants near the field – on the other side of Hospital Road, behind the parking lot, there are some apartment building style dorms with a retail plaza on the ground level, which includes a movie theater, a Starbucks, a Qdoba, an asian restaurant, a frozen yogurt place, a convenience store, and a retro-style diner named Henry’s that offers a slew of fun milkshake flavors. Henry’s has a great atmosphere and offers both breakfast and lunch/dinner options all day long – I recommend the Eggs Benedict but not the Monte Cristo because it doesn’t come with jam, which quite frankly ruins the experience. All of these restaurants are on campus so they don’t serve alcohol, nor do they have TVs.
That said, if you are looking for a cool hangout that offers both, there are a couple of good options about 3 miles from the field – Brick House Tavern+Tap is on the same side of the river in South Plainfield, while Olde Queens Tavern and Tumulty’s (pub) are over in New Brunswick. Brick House and Tumulty’s are both a little on the pricey side; Brick House offers mainly pizza, burgers, and meatballs, while Tumulty’s has a much fuller menu including sandwiches, seafood, and beef/chicken entrees – both have a wide selection of drinks. Olde Queens is a little odd in that their food offerings consist mostly of sliders provided by a food truck that is popular locally, but they do have nightly drink specials.
Probably in part because they can’t play night games, attendance at Bainton is pretty sparse – they might only get 100 fans (or less) at a typical game, so the stands look pretty empty. However, those who are there seem pretty knowledgeable and are very intent on the game; in fact, some will even make a fuss if you block their view of a pitch! About half of those in attendance wear Rutgers gear, while many of the others (but not all) are dressed in the visitors’ colors.
Piscataway is easy to get to since it is right off the freeway; the baseball field on the other hand is a little tricky to find since it doesn’t have a real address, so your GPS can only get you very close.
Parking is free and easy to find, if a bit haphazard; some fans just park on the grass right next to the bleachers behind the outfield, and there is a small parking area (I wouldn’t call it a “lot”) next to the field which can accommodate most of the tiny crowd. There is also a large lot just across the street which offers covered parking, which is a better idea in warmer weather.
The bathrooms are very tiny; there are only 2 urinals and one stall in the men’s bathroom, which is more than adequate for the typical crowd, but could be problematic for bigger games. Also, as I mentioned earlier the bathrooms are not part of the stadium per se, so you do have to walk a little to get to them.
Return on Investment 2
They don’t even bother to sell tickets, so admission is free, as is parking. Concession prices are also low, but the few options offered are not very interesting, so that isn’t much of a plus. Attending a game here is probably worth it if you are just looking for an activity to do with your kids or something, or if your team is playing here, but not much fun otherwise.
One point for Piscataway – hands down the most fun city name in the US. Except for maybe Joe, Montana (which is a real place, by the way).
They have a new field, and lots of money coming in for other improvements such as the Fred Hill Baseball & Softball training complex, so there are good things coming for Rutgers baseball. The venue may be worth another look in a couple years.