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  • Writer's pictureDavid Welch

E. S. Rose Park – Belmont Bruins




Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

E.S. Rose Park

1000 Edgehill Ave

Nashville, TN 37203



Year Opened: 2011

Capacity: 500

 

It’s Bruin Time

Baseball was first played at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee starting with the 1953 season. The then Belmont Rebels would begin intercollegiate baseball as a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) program, spending time in the Volunteer State Athletic Conference for 30+ seasons before heading to the Tennessee Collegiate Athletic Conference for just over a decade, prior to joining the ranks of independent programs for the 1996 and 1997 seasons.


Following their jump from NAIA to Division I, Belmont would change their name from the Rebels to the more alliterative Belmont Bruins. The Bruins would spend four years as a D1 independent before joining the Atlantic Sun Conference (ASUN) in 2002. After 11 seasons in the ASUN, Belmont would jump to the Ohio Valley Conference where they would play until 2022, before finally moving to the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC).


The E.S. Rose Park athletic complex was built in partnership with the City of Nashville; Belmont University contributed $9 million to the construction and upgrade of the athletic facilities at the city owned park, which the school leases. While not actually on the Belmont campus, the park is just blocks away.


 

Food & Beverage   3

Outside of the grandstand seating and located between the softball and soccer fields and track, the concession stand here is built into a brick and aluminum structure along the left field side of the stadium. The building also houses restrooms and other park facilities.


Concessions at E.S. Rose Park take care of the staples, with hot dogs, candy, chips, and canned soft drinks from the Pepsi family of beverages, as well as Gatorade and bottled water. The menu does go a bit beyond with hamburgers and cheeseburgers as extra entrée, while snacks also include whole pickles and granola.


Since E.S. Rose Park is a public city facility, alcoholic beverages are not available. 

 

Atmosphere   3

E.S. Rose Park is made up of three individual brick seating areas – the two sections on either side of home plate are made up of rows of aluminum benches with back supports, and individual chairback seats in the small section behind home plate. A relatively large scoreboard sits next to the visiting team’s bullpen in left field, which gives fans basic line score and ball-strike-out information, but the accompanying videoboard above is not operational.


Even though not part of the stadium, a covered picnic area sits upon a grassy berm in left field, and might be one of the best places to watch the game from, as it is the only location that provides a significant amount of shade and protection from the elements. Given the amount of tree growth beyond the berm, the grandstand’s skyline view of downtown Nashville is a bit obstructed, however, a short walk up the right field line does highlight what has come to be known as the iconic “Batman Building” that dominates the Nashville skyline.


Other than mid-inning ad reads there is not a lot to distract from the game. There are not a lot of audio drops between pitches or following outs; doing such would appear forced and not add a lot to the game experience, and also doesn’t seem like it would elicit much of a reaction from fans.


There really is not a bad seat when it comes to baseball at E.S. Rose Park, but the seats along the home side of the field do have the best views of downtown Nashville, even if this view is a bit blocked by trees. If the need for shade is necessary, the picnic area in left field does have tables that sit higher than the fence line, so it does provide a decent vantage point for the game.

 

Neighborhood   4

E.S. Rose Park is in the heart of Nashville’s Edgehill neighborhood. Its location on Kirkpatrick Hill, one of Nashville’s highest points, provides fans with amazing views in every direction. The Belmont campus is visible behind home plate, Vanderbilt’s West End Tower rises above the landscape along the third base side, downtown Nashville is not far off in the distance beyond the left field fence, and the gatehouse to the historic 8th Avenue Reservoir is visible beyond the first base side of the field.


The area is adorned with both signs and statues of polar bears, which at first impression might just seem like a fun, artistic addition to the area, but actually holds historic relevance to the neighborhood – dating back to the 1930s, polar bear statues were created to advertise Polar Bear Frozen Custard shops. Two of the four bears currently sit on the corner of Edgehill and 12th Avenue, just outside of the park’s northwest corner.



The Edgehill area is no stranger to baseball, being the one-time home of the Nashville Sounds; Hershel Greer Stadium once stood just across I-65 adjacent to the Civil War-era Fort Nagley. Despite being torn down in 2019, the outline of the infield is still visible.


While the immediate area surrounding E.S. Rose Park might be a bit light on locations of interest, there is a bit of everything for everyone within 5 miles of the ballpark. Within a mile are Music Row (the historic focus of country music), the trendy Gulch district, and Vanderbilt University. Broadway, the heart of Nashville’s entertainment district, and the 12 South neighborhood, with its several boutique shops and restaurants, are both just under 2 miles away from the stadium. Also, visitors wanting to keep up a baseball theme might venture downtown to First Horizon Park, to catch the Nashville Sounds.

 

Fans   2

Belmont baseball typically draws 100 to 200 fans per game, with the lesser number being typical for early season game before the weather takes a turn for the better. In a bit of an oddity for baseball, there does not seem to be a lot of kids in the crowd.


An interesting dynamic is created by the field being in a public park, and there is no fee charged to access the stadium. The game attracts passersby who might just want to sit and watch the game for an inning or so before carrying on with their day. There also doesn’t seem to be a large student contingent of regular supporters, primarily just family and friends of players.

 

Access   4

The City of Nashville has a highly developed sense of both public transportation and bicycle accessibility. Multiple bus stops can be found along the streets that form the perimeter of the park on Edgehill Avenue and 9th and 12th Streets. Dedicated bicycle lanes make E.S. Rose Park easily accessible for those coming via any type of transportation.


The Edgehill neighborhood is just off the junction of I-65 and I-40, so the ballpark is also easily accessible for those arriving from outside Nashville. The main challenge is contending with Nashville traffic, which even on weekends can be considerably backed up.


Once at E.S. Rose Park, two smallish parking lots can be found along either side of the adjacent recreation facility. Despite being more convenient, the lot closest to the stadium does presents a bit of foul ball danger, and there also needs to be consideration given to the fact that the park is heavily used by community members, so is a popular place on sunny weekend days, making finding a parking spot for late arrivers a bit more challenging.


While the grandstand seating is easily accessible, the sections on either side of home plate are closed-ended. While this is a minor inconvenience, trying to sit near the ends of these sections can create some awkward situations, by making others get up so you can sit past them – the burden this puts on those sitting on the aisle, who constantly have to get up so people can move past them, in essence eliminates sitting on the aisle as a seating option.

 

Return on Investment   5

With no charge for parking or admittance, the only charge is for whatever concessions might be desired. Like most concession menus, prices are hit or miss when it comes to what seems to be reasonable ballpark prices. There does not seem to be any restriction on bringing outside food or drink, however, so concession prices are only as prohibitive as fans  allow them to be.

 

Extras   4

A display on the exterior of the seating recognizes the 100th anniversary of Negro League Baseball; the plaque there honors Nashvillians who either played or owned a team in the Negro Leagues.


Only a handful of other college baseball stadiums can provide a backdrop that is comparable to that of E.S. Rose Park, though it is a bit unfortunate that as winter turns to spring, the foliage of the trees that border the park block the view of the Nashville skyline.


Banners are hung recognizing Belmont regular season and tournament championships, as well as their 2011 and 2012 NCAA regional appearances. Also, the retired number 21 hangs in honor of former coach Dave Whitten, who led Belmont for 29 seasons and to 663 wins.



Given the ballpark’s location within the park, there are several other activities to help keep younger fans entertained if the game might not be enough – a playground, basketball court, track, and softball field all surround the outside of the E.S. Rose Park.

 

Final Thoughts

Belmont baseball is a very basic experience that is not going to wow spectators, but what it does is highlight the nature of college baseball and what is beautiful about the game; the chirping and chattering is on full display, and is complemented by the ping of the bat.


E.S. Rose Park is probably not a ballpark that visitors will flock to, but given Nashville’s position as a tourist destination, stopping here to complement a visit to Music City is definitely a consideration to make, if looking for an outdoor activity to fill an opening in a weekend schedule.

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