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  • David Berger

Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium – Appalachian State Mountaineers


Photos by David Berger & Marc Viquez Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

Beaver Field at Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium

Bodenheimer Dr

Boone, NC 28608



Year Opened: 2007

Capacity: 1,000

 

Appalachian State Baseball

Appalachian State has been rising in national visibility over the last few years, primarily through the visibility of its football team. In 2007, they received national recognition for upsetting Michigan while still an FCS school.

Since graduating to the FBS level for football in 2013, they’ve continued a string of athletic successes. Most recently, in 2018 Appalachian State football was ranked in the Top 25 for the first time, after narrowly losing to Penn State in overtime.

The groundswell of support and visibility has helped App State (as they are known locally) make strides across a number of its athletic programs. Although baseball has not made the NCAA tournament since 2012, it’s not due to a lack of facilities. Beaver Field and the accompanying Jim & Bettie Smith Stadium complex offer a first-class operation set beautifully into the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Built in 2007, Beaver Field has 827 stadium seats with backs, as well as grass seating down the right field line that accommodates overflow crowds over 1000 for their “Pack the Park” promotions. Seating is divided into just three sections, and all seats are between the dugouts and protected by safety netting. The press boxes sit directly behind the concourse at the top of the sections, and the concession and ticket booths are behind the press box.

Due to unpredictable Blue Ridge spring weather, the playing surface is Field Turf, which can allow for a late Spring snow removal in the morning, with a game still playable in the afternoon. The complex also includes an indoor hitting and pitching facility, as well as a clubhouse and lounge for players and coaching staff.

Food & Beverage 3

Options are generally limited at small college baseball, and that’s true here as well. The cooler is well stocked with drink options (When ordering a “blue Gatorade,” we were asked “which blue?”). Hot dogs ($2 – $4), nachos ($3), and s’mores ($4) are your primary options, along with candy ($2), popcorn, and chips ($1 each).

Prices are very reasonable, and fans can also bring their own. During our visit, there were a handful of tailgaters in the parking lot as well. People who bring their own have use of a handful of picnic tables as well. The major drawback is the concession stand is out of view of the field. However, even with a decent crowd during our visit, the lines were never long.

Atmosphere 3

The primary attraction is the setting. Looking out into the surrounding mountains on a sunny spring day is a better-than-average way to see a baseball game. For our visit, while there was a nice crowd, it was split fairly evenly between home and away supporters (arch-rival Georgia State). With a crowd under 1000, you can’t expect it to get loud. You can hear every heckler individually.

That said, the crowd is engaged and supportive. The stadium staff does a nice job of mixing in music and announcements to keep the game moving along without being overbearing. There are promotions nearly every day to entice return visits, including $2 tickets on Tuesdays. The crowd is a mix of students and local supporters and players' families that makes for a welcoming environment.

Neighborhood 5

Boone, NC is one of the great little college towns in America and has been growing and improving exponentially over the last few years. Anyone who has spent time here loves coming back, and while it’s still very small (about 17,000 permanent residents), the community still has all the conveniences of a city twice as large, plus all the charm of a small mountain town.

King Street is the primary thoroughfare through Boone and rests along the northern edge of the campus. Highway 321 runs north-south along the Eastern edge. These two roads are your primary options for retail and restaurants. Anything you could want is available, from primary chains to local breweries. The Come Back Shack is popular for burgers, as is The Cardinal.

New hotels have been popping up over the last few years, making it a little easier to stay in the area. There are multiple skiing hills in the winter, including Appalachian Ski Mountain, and easy access to the Appalachian Trail only a few miles from campus. Any number of outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, or whitewater rafting are nearby. Blowing Rock National Park and Tweetsie Railroad (a theme park, skewed towards younger kids) are nearby as well.

Fans 3

As App State becomes more and more of a “football school,” general interest in baseball is lukewarm. While they draw a nice crowd on a warm Spring day, those fans fall into one of three categories: students looking to enjoy the sunshine and some sports who don’t have a lot of competitive options, friends of the program, like players’ families and a smattering of locals.

Ron Hodges was a catcher in the majors in the 1970s, and is their most prominent baseball alumnus. There is one active major leaguer with an App State pedigree currently (Jeff Springs with the Texas Rangers), and five more in the minors – none of whom were picked in the first 10 rounds. There’s not a lot of reason beyond a love of the game or school pride to be a rabid fan of the baseball program yet.

Access 4

Attending a game is simple. Interstate 40 is the closest, but your trip to Boone will eventually take you to either highway 321 (N/S) or 421 (E/W). Both are multi-lane highways and very easy to drive. As remote as Boone can be, it’s still just two hours from Charlotte.

Once on campus, parking at the stadium complex is plentiful and free. There are also campus shuttle buses that will take you to the field.

Return on Investment 4

A game at Beaver Stadium could be the centerpiece of a very enjoyable weekend getaway filled with all sorts of outdoor activities. Parking is free, and tickets are typical $5, with discounts on Tuesdays and other promotional days.

Hotels in the area are reasonably priced, and the entire area is family-friendly, with low-cost and free options for things to do. Just walking around campus will offer some tremendous vistas of the surrounding landscape and can make for an enjoyable day by itself, capped off with lunch or dinner on King Street.

Extras 5

Boone is a paradise for those who love the outdoors. In any direction, you’ll find a mix of attractions for the whole family.

A drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway will have you making multiple stops along the way to gaze out over the mountains and ravines of the area. There’s plenty of fishing and hiking available in parks around the area as well.

Just walking and browsing on King Street can be a fun afternoon. King Street has the feel of a mountain town, but it is just a few blocks from shops and restaurants.

Nearby Blowing Rock is a little more commercial and has the Tweetsie Railroad and Blowing Rock monument. The Cherokee National Forest is also just to the West. In less than 90 minutes you can also continue west to the Northeast corner of Tennessee, where you’ll find four affiliated minor league ballparks (Johnson City, Kingsport, Elizabethton, and Bristol).


Final Thoughts

Though baseball is not the primary sport at Appalachian State, a visit to Boone, NC and Beaver Field is an enjoyable way to spend a sunny spring afternoon.

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