Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.57
Bush Stadium at Averitt Express Baseball Complex University Drive west of Willow Avenue Cookeville, TN 38501
Year Opened: 1978
Golden Eagles Fly High
The Tennessee Tech baseball program has been one of the hottest teams in Division I baseball over the last few years. They have claimed 5 Ohio Valley Conference Championships in the last nine years, had more than 40 wins in three of the last five years and are ranked #2 in home runs nationally over the last five years. During the 2018 season they won 27 games in a row.
The nest for the Golden Eagles is the on-campus Bush Stadium. Built in 1978, the stadium underwent a massive renovation in 1997. Today the stadium has a capacity of 1,100. The stadium is hard to miss, as it carries the purple and gold motif of all the Tennessee Tech athletic teams.
Food & Beverage 5
Bush Stadium is somewhat unusual in that it provides its concession services out of a mobile trailer stationed down the first base line beyond the dugout. This does not prevent it from providing the baseball staples, along with some items not usually found at the ballpark. Its menu includes Nathan’s hot dogs ($3), peanuts ($3), Pepsi brand soft drinks ($1), chips (50 cents), Slim Jims (3 for $1), Gatorade ($2), and bottled water ($2). The stand offers some healthy options as well, including trail mix ($1), sunflower seeds ($1) and fruit-based snacks (50 cents). Conversely, persons with a sweet tooth can purchase candy ($1.50), ring pops ($1), animal crackers (50 cents), pixy stix (50 cents) and an old staple of baseball that you do not see much anymore, double bubble gum (3 for $1).
These are by far the lowest costs we have found for concession items at any ballpark.
A set of baseball booster volunteers staff the concession trailer, helping to keep the costs to a minimum. The fans really appreciate their efforts.
The atmosphere at Golden Eagle games is absolutely electric. Fans fill the stadium no matter who Tennessee Tech is playing, as there is no admission charged for baseball games. The grassy area outside the stadium fence becomes a tent city as groups stake out a good spot to watch the game in the comfort of the shade for the late spring games. The noise level during an offensive rally can be deafening, and it has to be intimidating to the visiting team.
The school’s regal colors of gold and purple are quite liberally spread throughout the stadium. The exterior of the stadium features a ribbon strip around the top featuring the Golden Eagles name and logo. The outfield fence displays several panels celebrating the many league and tournament championships won by the teams. Something we had not seen before were some mailbox-type distribution containers with the lineups for the day’s game spread throughout the stands.
The Tennessee Tech campus is in Cookeville, Tennessee, a town of 30,500 residents nestled halfway in between Nashville and Knoxville, just off of I-40. The university is the major employer in the town, and it offers many of the cultural and entertainment programs to the community. The campus is on the north end of Cookeville and is bordered by a small retail center. A bulk of the retail, dining and lodging offerings are located between I-40 and the Tennessee Tech campus. Some of the more popular dining/drinking establishments in town are the Red Silo Brewing Company and the Seven Seas Food and Cheer Restaurant. For history buffs, there are two “must see” sites to check in Cookeville. There include the Cookeville Depot Museum and the Cummins Falls State Park.
Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex is located across the street from the academic campus of Tennessee Tech. It is a pretty campus and is well worth exploring.
The long history of success of the Golden Eagles baseball program has earned the team a legion of fans. The academic year had concluded before the game we attended, and the stadium was still packed and noisy. We can only imagine what the stadium would have been like had the students still been on campus. The bleachers are filled with so many gold and purple outfits you would think it was Mardi Gras.
The fan base is not confined to students and players parents. Cookeville is a small town with no minor league baseball, and the locals see the baseball program as a source of civic pride. We noticed a wide demographic of age groups in attendance and the free admission to the games and low concession prices certainly remove any economic barriers to coming out to enjoy a nice spring afternoon at the ballpark.
Cookeville and the Tennessee Tech campus are easily reached via I-40. From Knoxville take I-40 West or from Nashville take I-40 East to exit 286. Go north on Willow Avenue for three miles. The Tennessee Tech campus will be on your right. The Averitt Express Baseball Complex will be on your left.
Both the restrooms and the concession stand are located away from the bleachers and are down the first base line from the dugout. This works out quite well as it is accessible to those with disabilities as the surface is flat and side walked. You certainly will not miss any of the action when visiting the concession stand. Parking is located immediately outside of the stadium.
Return on Investment 5
Attending a baseball game at Bush Stadium provides an excellent return on investment. You will see a quality team perform with no admission charge, no charge for parking and very reasonably priced concessions. Lodging in Cookeville is very affordable for those needing overnight accommodations. It does not get better than that.
Kudos to Tennessee Tech for not charging any admission for the baseball program.
The baseball booster club provides a terrific service in providing volunteers to staff the concessions area and assist visitors in finding the facilities at Bush Stadium.
The game program dispensers are quite innovative.
Free admission to a game is an unusual perk for a baseball program the stature of Tennessee Tech.
The Tennessee Tech baseball program is one of the elite programs amid the mid-level conferences. They are the perennial champions of the Ohio Valley Conference and are regular visitors to the NCAA Tournament. A visit to Bush Stadium will treat visitors to high quality baseball, free admission, a very reasonably priced concession stand and some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable fan bases in college baseball.