Boyce Cox Field - Bristol State Liners
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
Boyce Cox Field 1501 Euclid Ave Bristol, VA 24201
Year Opened: 1969 Capacity: 2,000
Along the Appalachian League Trail: Bristol
Boyce Cox Field in Bristol, Virginia is one of the most interesting venues in the Appalachian League. It opened in 1969, after a conversion from its former life as a football stadium. The stadium has three main components, none of which seem to match. This is because they include a grandstand along the third base line that belonged to the baseball stadium, another set of bleachers along the first base line that was added later, and the seats behind home plate, which are a combination of stadium seats and concrete seating.
It has served as the home of the Bristol Pirates since 2014. Previous affiliations of the team include the White Sox and the Tigers. Some of the major league players who got their start in Bristol include Tim Belcher, Mark “The Bird” Fedrick, Travis Fryman, Lance Parrish, and Alan Trammell.
In many ways, Boyce Cox Field struggles to meet even the minimum standards required by Minor League Baseball. What is important to know is that baseball in Bristol is a labor of love run by volunteers. A non-profit organization, Bristol Baseball, leases the field from the city of Bristol for $1 a year. There is no paid staff involved in this organization. Every function of the facility, from groundskeeping to ticket taking and announcing the games, is run by volunteers. Any criticism of the park needs to be tempered by that knowledge.
Food & Beverage 3
There is one concession stand in the park. It is located at the base of the press box and is run by volunteers from Virginia High, which uses the stadium during the school year. All proceeds from this stand benefit programs at the high school. The only items available at this stand are hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, candy, Gatorade, Pepsi brand sodas, and bottled water.
While the selection of foods is sparse… the prices are hard to beat. It is also nice to patronize the stand to benefit the high school programs. That being said, fans are welcome to bring their food and beverages to the park with them. There are no restrictions at the gate on bringing in such items. The aptly named Ballpark Corner Market is just across the street from the park and offers several pre-packaged picnic items.
A game at Boyce Cox Field is baseball at its basics. Fans can either sit in the various seating areas immediately surrounding the field or can choose to bring their lawn chairs or beach towels and watch the action from the hill overlooking the field. The field does have a PA announcer but doesn’t expect the between-innings contests and games. There is no large video board with graphics here… just your standard high school scoreboard. The baseball game is the only entertainment here.
Boyce Cox Field is just west of the downtown business district of Bristol, Virginia. The only food choices within walking distance of the stadium are a Krystal and a Subway. Downtown Bristol is several blocks east of the park and has a wide variety of dining and entertainment options.
Bristol is probably best known for being split right down the middle by the Virginia/Tennessee state line. There is a large sign spanning State Street commemorating that fact. It is a great place to take a selfie. State Street is the dividing line, so if you are on its south side you are in Tennessee and you have a different zip code and area code from the other side of the street. Cross State Street and you are in Virginia.
Unlike many small towns, the downtown area of Bristol has remained very vibrant. There are several restaurants to choose from. We found a wide choice of menu options at Quaker Steak and Lube on State Street. Across the street from Quaker Steak is the original location of the Burger Bar. This no-frills burger joint is famous for serving country music legend Hank Williams his last meal before he died (Note: The food did not kill him!).
The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is a must-see attraction in downtown Bristol. Long before Nashville became the center of the country music universe, Bristol was the place to be. Artists from the hill country surrounding Bristol would come into town to perform and do early record recordings.
The museum does an excellent job of covering these early artists and their songs. The other major attraction in the area is the Bristol Motor Speedway. It is located about seven miles south of downtown Bristol on the Volunteer Parkway.
Most of the lodging options in Bristol are at the I-81 interchange or along the Volunteer Parkway. Two hotels we found that offer reasonably priced accommodations and are close to the ballpark are the Days Inn Bristol and the Hampton Inn Bristol.
Bristol fans turn out in substantial numbers for each Pirates game. The stands may be half empty, but the hill overlooking the field is filled with families, youngsters, and seniors alike, enjoying baseball without the theme music for each player, the constant barrage of advertising, and the contests between innings. They are proud of Bristol’s baseball heritage and show their support by not only attending the games but also by volunteering both before and after the game to keep Boyce Cox Field playable and updated to meet league standards.
Getting to Boyce Cox Field is very easy. From I-81 in Virginia take exit 3 towards downtown Bristol. Go to the 4th traffic light and turn right on Euclid Avenue. Go ½ mile and the park will be on your right. Parking is free in the large lot by the football stadium. It is important to know that the baseball field will not be visible from this lot, as it is behind the football field.
After leaving your car, look for a small sign for Boyce Cox Field and an opening in the fence. There will be a ticket table at this gate. After purchasing your tickets you will follow a trail between the football stadium and the woods to the baseball stadium. The trail is paved but hilly in places. The ballpark will be down an incline at the end of the trail.
The seating areas vary in height and type of seating. If you are planning to sit in the stands it would be wise to bring a seat cushion with you. You also have the option of just picking a spot on the hillside to watch the game.
The concession stand is at the base of the press box. Restrooms are located at the end of the bleachers along the first baseline.
Return on Investment 4
Attending a game at Boyce Cox Field provides an excellent return on investment. Ticket prices are $5 for adults, $4 for children 5-12 years old, and children under 5 can attend free of charge. There is no cost for parking.
You can bring your food and beverage into the park or patronize the concession stand and know that your purchase benefits the local schools. It is baseball with no frills, which is not necessarily a sad thing.
An extra must go to the volunteers who have enabled Bristol to continue its long history with baseball.
Going to a ball game at Cox Field is like going back to an earlier time when parks were simpler. The game is the focus here, which is as it should be. Bristol also offers some unique experiences as a town, with its spanning two states.