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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park – James Madison Dukes


Photos by Gregory Koch , Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park 270 Veterans Memorial Drive Harrisonburg, VA 22807


Year Opened: 2010

Capacity: 1,200

 

Diamond Dukes

Nestled in the scenic Shenandoah Valley town of Harrisonburg, Virginia is the campus of James Madison University. JMU’s athletic teams, known as the Dukes, compete in the Colonial Athletic Association, although they will be moving to the Sun Belt Conference in the 2022-23 season. The Dukes’ baseball team plays at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park, an artificial turf stadium that opened in 2010 and seats about 1,200 fans. Veterans Memorial Park also includes the Dukes’ softball stadium, which is located right next door to the baseball field, as well as an art complex and a memorial to veterans that gives the park its name.

Food & Beverage 3

A concession stand is located directly to your right as you come in and offers a good range of options. Cheeseburgers and hamburgers are available for $4.75, hot dogs are $3.50, sausages are $5, and chicken tenders are $7.50 and come with fries. Fries by themselves are $4, while hot pretzels, candy, nachos, chips, blow pops, sunflower seeds, and peanuts are all available as snacks. Soda is $3.50, while hot chocolate and coffee are $3.50, or $6 in a souvenir mug. Bottled water is $5, and due to recycling efforts by public universities statewide, comes in an aluminum can rather than the typical plastic one.

Atmosphere 4

Walking into Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park will put you on a concourse. The restrooms will be to your left, the concession stand will be to your right, and straight ahead you will find marketing and giveaway tables, signs honoring the accomplishments of Duke’s baseball, and stairways that take you up to the top of the seating area. From there you will need to walk back down to your seat. The three sections closest to home plate are chairback seats, while the others are bleachers with backs. Although some of the chairbacks used to be reserved, all seats are now general admission. The chairbacks are likely to be in the shade for most of the game, while the other seats will be in the sun. Which one is better depends on personal preference and when you go to the game – on a cold day in February or early March, many fans will opt to forgo the seatbacks to sit in the sun, but once it starts to warm up, you’ll appreciate the shade. A scoreboard in the outfield shows a linescore as well as runs, hits, and errors.

Scoreboard at Eagle Field, Photo by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


The team does a lot to keep fans engaged, throwing miniature foam baseballs into the stands after every Duke’s home run, plus the usual t-shirt toss at some point during the game. The spacious concourse dedicates a significant amount of space to the history of JMU baseball, with banners and signs showing Dukes All-Americans, major leaguers, and appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

Neighborhood 3

Harrisonburg is a quaint town in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Although this doesn’t have the excitement of the big city, there is plenty to do here, including the Virginia Quilt Museum. For meals, there are plenty of options depending on your budget. The famous southern chain Cook Out has a location five minutes from campus, which serves up burgers, chicken sandwiches, and other options. Try one of their trays for a great value, as it comes with two sides and a drink for around $8.

If you’re looking for something more upscale, or at least something with table service, the Magpie Diner on West Gay Street is open for breakfast and lunch and is a local favorite. There are many hotels to stay at in Harrisonburg ranging from budget hotels to a Doubletree.

Note that at the time of writing, many dining options in Harrisonburg are limited to takeout or unavailable entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but this article is written to reflect the “normal” state of things.

Fans 4

Although Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park is a small stadium, Dukes fans do their best to fill it. Expect to see hundreds of fans decked out in purple at any given game. The fans are passionate and extremely loud, especially when the Dukes have big plays. You would not be able to tell how small the crowd is by the sound of it. Part of that is due to the compact space of the stadium, but most of it is due to how they are such great fans.

Access 3

Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park is located a few miles off Interstate 81 via exit 247B. After exiting onto Market Street, continue a short while before turning left onto Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. Continue for about a mile and a half before the road ends at High Street. Continue through the light and you will be in the parking lot. You will need to navigate a roundabout in the middle of the parking lot to wind up in the lot nearest the stadium – other areas serve the Veterans Memorial itself or other parts of the park, although you can park there if the stadium lot fills up.

Getting around the stadium once you get inside is easy enough, although it is a bit confusing to have to walk up and back down. Foul balls regularly fly onto the concourse so be careful while you are walking down there. A staff member will normally shout “Heads up!” when a ball is heading that way but be alert yourself anyway. Restrooms are located directly to the left of the entrance and are of sufficient size for the crowd.

When getting out of the stadium, you may have to wait at the traffic light for a few minutes as the timing of the cycle was not designed for such traffic patterns as occur postgame, but once you get out, you should not encounter any problems.

Return on Investment 4

JMU used to charge for baseball tickets, as is evident by the ticket window that is still outside the stadium but switched to free admission a few years ago. This was the right decision as it significantly enhances value. Concessions are affordable, parking is free, and this is a very nice stadium, all of which combine to make a trip to a JMU baseball game top value.

Extras 2

One star for all the banners and signs on the concourse honoring Duke’s baseball history, which have already been discussed above.

There are free programs available at the marketing table. While they’re not too extensive, you can’t really argue with the price.

Final Thoughts

When thinking of the top college baseball experiences in Virginia, fans will think immediately of the University of Virginia, which is home to one of the top college baseball programs in the country. However, while the JMU baseball program isn’t nearly at the same level as the Cavaliers, Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park is a hidden gem here in the Shenandoah Valley. With free admission to a beautiful baseball stadium, a trip here is a great experience for college baseball fans across Virginia.


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