Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
Elliot Ballpark Jim Calhoun Way Storrs, CT 06269
Year Opened: 2021 Capacity: 1,500
New Home for Husky Hardball
Baseball has been played at the University of Connecticut since 1896. The school has been a major regional power in New England over the years, reaching the NCAA Tournament 21 times and the College World Series five times. Their most recent appearance in the CWS was in 1979. 22 UConn alumni have played in the Major Leagues.
Elliot Ballpark is named for former UConn baseball player Doug Elliot and family, who provided a major gift towards the completion of the facility. Both Doug and Sheila Elliot graduated from UConn in 1982. Their son Doug also played for the Huskies. Both Doug and Doug Jr. were named team MVP during their senior seasons.
Elliot Ballpark replaced the Huskies’ longtime home, J.O. Christian Field, which served as home to the Huskies from 1968-2019. The new ballpark stands across the street from the old park, which has been repurposed as a practice field for the soccer and lacrosse teams. Elliot Ballpark was scheduled to open for the 2020 season, but the COVID-19 shutdown ended the Huskies’ season before they were able to play any home games.
Food & Beverage 2
This score is speculative, as there were no concessions available during Stadium Journey’s visit. UConn fans and staff both mentioned that there are plans for a concession stand next season (2022), but that there was no chance to have any concessions ready for this last-minute, full-capacity game. In exploring the grounds, it appears there is ample room for pop-up stands or food trucks on the left-field patio.
Fans were welcome to bring in their own snacks and drinks during Stadium Journey’s visit.
The new ballpark contains many features missing at Christian Field, including artificial turf (a must for playing early-season games in fickle New England Aprils), lights, a video scoreboard, and suites. The large locker room contains a player’s lounge and showers, while the coaches have their own offices in the adjacent building. It is hoped that these amenities will help the Huskies in recruiting players from beyond Connecticut’s borders.
Elliot Ballpark features a livelier atmosphere than what is common in other northeastern college ballparks. The scoreboard shows game stats and some graphics. Expect the gameday staff to get better at operating this board with practice. The new sound system is state of the art and is put to good use throughout the game. The fans that come to Elliot Ballpark are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their Huskies.
It’s a short drive from Elliot Ballpark to downtown Storrs. Storrs is a village within the town of Mansfield, with a population of just over 15,000 residents, which pales in comparison to UConn’s total enrollment of almost 33,000 students. It’s no surprise that this 4,000-acre campus dominates this small town. Visitors to Storrs can still find some solid dining options in town.
Geno’s Grille, owned by legendary coach Geno Auriemma, is an upscale Italian bistro with some nice options. Randy’s Wooster Street Pizza Shop, featured in an episode of Man vs. Food, is another popular gathering spot.
A must-stop for visiting fans is the UConn Dairy Bar. The Dairy Bar, operated entirely by students, has been in operation since 1953. All products are made fresh on site. While enjoying your ice cream you can see the cows grazing in the adjacent fields.
Since there aren’t a ton of options for lodging near UConn, many fans coming to the area will move on to Hartford, located about a 45-minute drive to the west, or the twin casinos of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, located about 45 minutes to the southeast.
When the state of Connecticut announced they would be lifting capacity limits late in May of 2021, UConn opened Elliot Ballpark to full capacity for the Huskies’ final series of the 2021 season. Fans responded by filling up the new ballpark. Attendance figures for the weekend series were not released, but Stadium Journey attended on a Saturday afternoon and the ballpark looked to be filled to about 2/3 capacity, with many additional fans seated on the large berm.
The fans who come to Elliot ballpark are knowledgeable about the team and enthusiastic in rooting on the Huskies. This is a livelier atmosphere than you usually see at a college game in the northeast.
Elliot Ballpark is located on the southwest edge of campus alongside many of UConn’s other athletic facilities. Gampel Pavilion is about a half mile up Jim Calhoun Way. The ballpark is right across the street from J.O. Christian Field and next door to Frietas Ice Forum. It stands behind Morrone Stadium, home of the Husky soccer and lacrosse teams. Fans who haven’t visited the UConn campus in a while may be surprised by how the area looks now, as the baseball, softball and soccer teams have all gotten new homes, and ground was just broken on a new on-campus hockey arena. Parking is available in the lot next to the Freitas Ice Forum and at South Garage across the street from Gampel Pavilion.
The seating bowl at Elliot Ballpark stretches from first base around to third base. Individual blue stadium seats make up the lower sections, while aluminum bleachers without backs make up the upper sections. A walkway separates the upper and lower seating sections. There are accessible seating areas for those fans who require such accommodations. A large berm down the right field line contains plenty of room for fans who wish to bring their own blankets or lawn chairs and set up shop apart from the seating area. Adirondack chairs line the top of the berm seating area.
There is standing room available down both foul lines. Views from these areas right at field level feature views not obstructed by netting. Restrooms are located underneath the stands at Morrone Stadium next door.
Return on Investment 5
There is no charge for admission at UConn baseball games. Parking in the lot next to Freitas Ice Forum is free of charge. Parking in South Garage may require a nominal charge depending on the day of your visit. With no concessions on site yet, catching a Husky game means you will not have to reach for your wallet even once.
Retired numbers, Husky World Series appearances and NCAA Tournament appearances are memorialized on the façade of the Rizza Family Performance Center beyond the left field wall.
Photos of all 22 Husky alumni to make it to the Major League are posted on the rear side of the seating bowl. Some recognizable names include Walt Dropo, Charles Nagy, Matt Barnes and George Springer.
To be able to compete for recruits on more than just a regional scale, it was clear that UConn needed an upgrade in their facilities. With Elliot Ballpark, this is a mission accomplished. The Huskies now have a home field packed with amenities as good as any ballpark in the northeast. From a fan perspective, the upgrade is just as impressive. Storrs may be off the beaten path, but it’s now a path worth traveling.