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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Ellen Ryan Field - St. Joseph's Hawks

Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Ellen Ryan Field

N Latchs Ln

Merion Station, PA 19066

Year Opened: 2011

Capacity: 200

The Hawckey Will Never Die

Nestled among several other athletic fields on the Maguire Campus of St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, you will find Ellen Ryan Field, home of the Hawks' field hockey team. Since 2011, St. Joe's has played in this 200-seat stadium in Merlon Station, Pennsylvania, just west of the Philadelphia city line that runs right through the campus.

The Hawks are the most successful field hockey team in recent years, winning all but one Atlantic 10 Conference title since 2016 and earning the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament each of those years.

Food & Beverage 1

There is no concession stand at Ellen Ryan Field. However, when Stadium Journey visited, a local non-profit was selling apple cider for donations to their organization. There may be similar things at other games. Fans are also permitted to bring in their food and drink except alcohol, and many do.

Atmosphere 3

Ellen Ryan Field has two small sets of bleachers, separated by a camera stand and media area. Most of the Hawks fans like to sit in the bleachers that are behind the home bench, while the visitors fans tend to sit on the side behind their team's bench. The stands are all very close to the action, although the camera tower can obstruct views in the corners. Seeing over the benches is no problem, however. Since the bleachers tend to fill up, many fans also stand along the chain-link fence surrounding the field or bring their chairs. If you do not arrive early enough, you will have no choice but to do this. Plan accordingly.

St. Joseph's has a mascot known as The Hawk who will sometimes show up at games. The Hawk is famous for flapping his wings continuously throughout every game, never once stopping even for a moment. "The Hawk Will Never Die" is the motto of St. Joseph's athletics, and he certainly lives up to his billing.

However, other than cheers from the crowd and the mascot's appearance, there is not much going on here besides the game. Even PA music can only occasionally be heard. This does mean you can hear much of what the players, coaches, and referees are shouting on the field, which some may appreciate.

Neighborhood 4

Although St. Joseph's University is one of Philadelphia's Big 5 universities, Ellen Ryan Field is located on the Maguire campus in Merion Station, just over the city line from Philadelphia itself. St. Joseph's straddles the line between the two, with Ellen Ryan Field falling outside the city limits. Merion is considered part of Philadelphia's Main Line, a wealthy area on the west side of the city.

Despite The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air giving West Philadelphia a bad rap (figuratively speaking - we have nothing against the theme song), this is one of the nicest parts of the area. You will find many restaurants and hotels along Route 1 (known as City Avenue as it passes by the stadium but several other names in different places) a short walk or drive from Ellen Ryan Field. You will find everything from pizza to Mexican to delis to classic Philadelphia cheesesteaks. It's a more suburban feel than downtown, but it's a nice enough place to hang out before or after a game.

Fans 4

Although Ellen Ryan Field only seats 200 fans, the Hawks regularly exceed that capacity. The bleachers will be full and fans will line the chain-link fence around the field on all sides. Hawks flags fly from the top of the bleachers as fans urge their team to victory.

While friends and family of the players make themselves known, they are not the only ones here by any means. St. Joseph's draws well for field hockey. Their on-field success and Hawk Will Never Die mantra have helped them build up a large fan base compared to most other teams in the sport, especially those outside the elite conferences.

Access 3

The St. Joseph's campus is easily accessible from I-95 and I-76, and Route 1 runs right along the sideline of the field, so you should have no problems getting to campus. It's more of an issue of what to do when you get here. On weekends, parking is available on the Maguire Campus near McShain Hall for free, although it is not signed or advertised. On weekdays, you will need to pay to park in the Hawk's Landing Parking Garage on the nearby Hawk Hill campus and walk about half a mile. This will probably cost between $3 and $5 depending on how early you arrive and how long you stay after the game.

Two single-person restrooms are located on the first floor of Connelly Hall behind the field, although this information isn't immediately clear either without asking.

Return on Investment 5

There is no charge for admission to regular season games at Ellen Ryan Field, though the policy may vary for Atlantic 10 or NCAA postseason events. Parking is free on weekends if you know where to go, and even on weekdays, you won't end up paying too much. This makes a St. Joseph's field hockey game a great value.

Extras 2

The legendary Hawk mascot is worthy of his star here. Look for the banners surrounding the field honoring St. Joseph's field hockey achievements.

Final Thoughts

Great sports experiences can be found in many places if you know where to look, and a St. Joseph's field hockey game at Ellen Ryan Field proves that to be the case. It is certainly not the most well-known sport or the most well-known venue, but with steady crowds, an intimate and tightly packed stadium, and a Hawk will never die mantra, it is well worth checking out a game of field hockey at St. Joseph's University.

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