Bill Aker Baseball Complex – Northern Kentucky Norse
Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.29
Bill Aker Baseball Complex at Friendship Field
Johns Hill Rd & Kenton Dr
Highland Heights, KY 41099
Year Opened: 2001
Watching Baseball from the Hill
A few miles south of downtown Cincinnati, Ohio is Bill Aker Baseball Complex at Friendship Field on the campus of Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Kentucky. The field is located on campus and is built into a hill that creates a natural grass berm for fans in the outfield. It is currently undergoing renovations that will be completed in two phases. The field is symmetrical left-to-right, with a 320-foot fence down the lines and a 365-foot distance into the center field wall. The infield features a synthetic turf, while the outfield consists of natural grass. The only dirt on the field is on the pitching mound. The second phase of the renovations will increase the seating capacity and improve the dugouts.
Food & Beverage 1
There is food served on the weekends for baseball games on top of the hill from local restaurants. However, during weekday games there is no food or beverages to be found. Fans are allowed to bring in their own food products. Many fans who watch games from the hill will bring Subway, Qdoba or coneys from Skyline or Gold Star to eat during games.
When the weather is nice, there can be up to hundreds of people sitting on the hill. The atmosphere is lively and patrons are known to heckle opposing players and cheer for the home team. The small stands in back of home plate may seat up to 50-60 people and a couple of small aluminum bleachers are located behind the fence on the first base line. The small row of seats behind home plate does not feature any seating, and could be somewhat uncomfortable if you attend without a seat cushion or chair back. Another area of concern is the entrance to the stadium itself; there does not seem to be a main entry or great way to enter the stadium. The parking is on top of the hill and fans have to descend down the grassy slope or pathway to the main entrance; fortunately, there is a better way to watch the game.
The best way to watch an NKU Norse game is to bring out a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy a bird’s eye view of the game from the outfield hill overlooking the outfield walls. It is probably the best section at the complex to watch the game and perhaps, the most fun. There is ample room to house a few hundred spectators and you are not too far away from game itself. There are some fans who park their car on the hill and enjoy the game from the seat of their car-reminiscent of the old Albuquerque Sports Stadium. It’s the baseball equivalent of a drive-in movie theatre.
The complex is on campus in the suburbs of Northern Kentucky. Downtown Cincinnati and Newport, Kentucky, are just minutes up I-271. To the south there are plenty of retail and restaurant options to choose from when leaving the game. A few recommendations are Pompilio’s for home style Italian food, Hofbrauhaus in Newport, and Buckhead Mountain Grill in Bellevue. The Newport Aquarium is a nice way to spend the afternoon with the family and there is plenty of nightlife at Newport on the Levee. A nice added bonus, fans can cross the Ohio River on the Purple People Bridge.
On the weekends, the student population can be heard loudly from on top of the hill. The revelers usually come by the hundreds and give the small baseball complex a much needed kick of excitement. When there is only a small handful of faithful fans, the crowd tends to be somewhat melancholy, but will show signs of life when Northern Kentucky scores or makes a great play on the diamond.
It is rather simple to attend a game at Foundation Field. A drive is minutes down I-271 from Cincinnati and the campus is easy to locate once you exit. The parking is free and plentiful during weekend contests, but may take a little maneuvering during day games on the weekdays.
Return on Investment 3
NKU does not charge a fee to attend a game. This may sound like a great deal. However, seats in back of the dugout feel a little archaic. Your best bet is to bring your own chairs and something to eat to make up for the lack of amenities at the ballpark.
The best part of the complex is being able to watch games from atop the hill either in your own car or on lawn seats. It’s a different and fun way to watch college baseball.
The Hill makes this a great venue for watching baseball.