Sullivan Field – Incarnate Word Cardinals
Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
Daniel J. Sullivan IV Baseball Field 4301 Broadway St San Antonio, TX 78209
Year Opened: 1989
University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals – Sullivan Field
The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) is the fourth-largest private university in the state of Texas. Founded in 1881 by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, nearly 100 years later the then Incarnate Word Crusaders fielded their first baseball team. Two years later, they moved into their home at Sullivan Field.
Named for a UIW alum and athletics benefactor, the field would see a ribbon-cutting ceremony conducted by baseball Hall of Famer – and former San Antonio minor leaguer – Billy Williams. In 2004, the now Cardinals saw the biggest upgrade done to their home park with the installation of stadium lights, making night games a reality for the first-time ever in program history.
Over the years, the Cardinals have seen a fair amount of success as they have marched up the rungs of the competition ladder. They have won six regular season conference championships – three in the Heart of Texas (1990, 1993, 1997), two in the Heartland (2005, 2006), and one in the Lone Star conference (2011) – and three conference tournament championships – the Heart of Texas (1997) and Heartland (2005, 2006). The Cardinals have also made five NCAA postseason regional tournaments.
They have yet to match this success since moving to the Southland Conference and are on the verge of moving to the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). However, they’ve done it all from the scenic confines of Sullivan Field, a truly unique venue in college baseball.
Food & Beverage 3
There is currently just one food stand located on the grounds behind the first baseline. It offers basically all your standard ballpark fare, including hot dogs ($6), sausages ($9), nachos ($8), Hot Cheetos with cheese ($8), and of course the essential peanuts ($4). They also offer various flavors of fresh-squeezed lemonades ($7), bottled sodas ($5), bottled water ($4), and beer ($8 for bottled domestic).
While there is only one stand and lines do tend to form, they seem to move along pretty quickly so you shouldn’t miss too much of the action on the field. However, I do think the concessions costs (with the exception of the beer) are a little on the high side.
Sullivan Field Concessions, Photo by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
Sullivan Field is in the middle of UIW’s athletics complex – home of Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium, McDermott Convocation Center, H-E-B Field, and UIW Natatorium – which itself is in the middle of what truly is a beautiful campus. The tree-lined campus, which is known for its ornate, red-brick buildings and numerous art installations, is the embodiment of what people imagine an institution of higher learning looks like. The stadium itself, and its playing surface, is state-of-the-art and has been upgraded a few times over the years.
The area beyond the outfield walls is completely wooded, not only making for a perfect batter’s eye, but also enhances the overall atmosphere and adds to the charm of the facility. In addition to the general admission bleacher seating behind home plate, there are two covered seating areas on each baseline for season ticket holders.
Arguably the biggest draw in terms of atmosphere, though, is the aforementioned UIW campus that encompasses Sullivan Field. For first-time visitors, I recommend taking extra time to come to a Cardinals game early, and taking a stroll through the campus before the game.
San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the country, and one of its top tourist destinations as well. The main draw for the Alamo City is its vibrant downtown area, as this is where most of the iconic points of interest are. These include the Alamo, the River Walk, the Tower of the Americas, and the Historic Pearl. Sullivan Field and the UIW campus are a short 11-minute drive from pretty much all these attractions, down San Antonio’s famed and historic Broadway Street.
However, these are just some of the attractions that the city has to offer, and just but a handful that you can find downtown. On Broadway you can also find access to two of the city’s oldest museums, the Witte Museum and McNay Art Museum, as well as the San Antonio Zoo and the San Antonio Botanical Garden.
In terms of dining options, this is also a prime area of the city that you want to be in. Downtown has an incredible wealth of options for you to choose from. No matter what your tastebuds are craving and what your wallet has you budgeted for, you’re going to find it in this area. However, if you’re looking for something closer to campus, two great options to look out for are Smoke Shack BBQ + Southern Kitchen and Broadway 5050.
Smoke Shack is one of the top barbecue spots in the city, and has piled up a host of awards since its opening and has bowled visitors over with its selection of smoked meats, unique sides (brisket mac and cheese, y’all!), and signature sandwiches. In addition, Broadway 5050 has been an SA institution for decades and is a classic neighborhood hangout spot, specializing in signature burgers with beer on tap.
For hotels, you could not be in a better spot if you’re heading to a game at Sullivan Field. Downtown San Antonio is – naturally – chock full of options for all budgets. With UIW being located where it is, you’re also in a prime spot if you want to escape some of the hustle and bustle of the area, but still be close enough to get to some of its attractions. One of the best bets for you just happens to be one of the highest-rated hotels in the country, Hotel Emma; this five-star boutique hotel is less than a 10-minute drive from the baseball field. However, if you want something a little less ostentatious, Best Western Plus Downtown North is also close by.
On my most recent visit, I went to catch a game on a weeknight. So, I came in with tempered expectations for what the crowd was going to be like. I was pleasantly surprised to see a virtually packed house at Sullivan Field to watch the game. There was – and this is just from my anecdotal evidence – a fairly large-sized group rooting on the visiting team. This only enhanced the atmosphere and energy of the crowd though.
From what I can see, it looks like the Cardinals are able to significantly draw upon their alumni base for their home games, as well as tap into the current student body. This makes for a pretty good overall crowd. This is essential for baseball games, as it keeps the energy levels up during the lulls in the on-field action.
Sullivan Field and UIW are centrally located in the city, as mentioned. They’re both a 10-minute drive from the heart of the city’s vibrant downtown and a 12-minute drive from the San Antonio International Airport. This makes it pretty easy to get to when you want to catch a Cardinals game – it’s also easily accessible via Interstate 37/State Highway 281.
Once you get to the campus, signage directs you toward the athletics compound. From there parking is ample and – best of all – free. You’ll find plenty of parking near the football stadium, softball field, and natatorium.
Return on Investment 3
General admission tickets for Cardinals games at Sullivan Field start at $10 per person. The Cardinals play a pretty interesting non-conference schedule, so you’re sure to get some good matchups even if you go before conference play starts. This more than makes up for the ticket cost, especially if you couple that with the free parking. As mentioned, the concession prices are a little on the high side for college baseball, but are nowhere near anything like what you pay for MLB, so you’re still coming out ahead.
There isn’t much in the way to speak of in terms of Extras at Sullivan Field. The Cardinals do have the prerequisite games in between innings (you have your trivia contests, your dizzy bat races, etc.) and things like that, but that is it. The main draws, as mentioned in the Atmosphere and Neighborhood sections, are the setting, the beauty of the UIW campus, and the attractions of the Alamo City.
Wooded Landscape Beyond the Outfield Fences, Photo by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey
I’d been to the UIW campus many times over the years, but had for some reason never taken in a baseball game at Sullivan Field. Like all their facilities, the Cardinals do a first-rate job with the fan experience. Being a small, private institution, they obviously don’t have the budget of a lot of larger schools for their athletics programs, but they don’t cut corners. I think if you’re a baseball fan and you find yourself with some time in S.A., you should do yourself a favor and make your way to the UIW campus and catch a game. I think you’ll like what you see.