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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Falcon Field – Woodstock River Bandits

Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Falcon Field 1147 Susan Ave Woodstock, VA 22644

Year Opened: 2004 Capacity: 796


River Bandits Of The Shenandoah

The Woodstock River Bandits have been playing baseball in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley in some form or another since 1897. Their early history is split between several leagues, and originally they played their home games at the Massanutten Military Academy at Seibert Field under a variety of different nicknames.

In 2004, the team, now known as the River Bandits, joined the Valley Baseball League and has played their home games at Falcon Field at Central High School in Woodstock ever since then. CHS plays baseball as well as football at this field during the year, so in order to accommodate the football field, the dimensions are not ideal – 340 down the lines, 376 and 372 to the left-center and right-centerfield alleys respectively, and only 338 to dead center. As the fence remains rather low all around the field, this leads to a lot of short home runs hit over the centerfield fence, while balls hit down the lines may be harder for the corner outfielders to play as they have a lot of space to cover.

Food & Beverage 5

There is one concession stand at Falcon Field, located behind the main bleachers in center field (more on that unusual location later.) There is a wide range of options, ranging from traditional fares like hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and hot dogs, to more unusual options like ham & swiss rolls and pork tenderloin sandwiches. Snacks include fries, nachos, locally-made Route 11 Potato Chips, and assorted candies. The candy selection includes Cow Tales, a chewy caramel cream candy. Although Cow Tales are not exclusive to the Shenandoah Valley, they are quite popular here and available for sale at several Valley League concession stands. Drinks include soda, Gatorade, water, sweet tea, and lemonade. There will also be a special which may vary by game. When Stadium Journey visited, the special was a loaded mac & cheese topped with bacon and even more cheese, but it may be different for different games. Prices are affordable, with everything but the special being under $5. Credit cards are accepted but need to be entered manually, so it would be quicker to use cash.

Atmosphere 3

In addition to the unusual dimensions discussed above, Falcon Field has an unusual setup for fans. The main bleachers are located in centerfield, along what would be the west sideline if this were a football game. There are other smaller bleachers scattered around the perimeter of the field, but most fans choose to sit in center field. There are several good reasons for this. The concession stand, restrooms, and entrance are all in centerfield and to access the other bleachers requires walking down a hill or several flights of steps.

Additionally, the sun sets behind centerfield, so if you sit here, it will set at your back instead of in your eyes. Finally, sitting here gets fans a gorgeous view of Massanutten Mountain behind home plate. The downside is you have a distant view of the game, but as centerfield is unusually close to home plate, it’s not as bad as it could be. A scoreboard is located down the third baseline and is also best seen from center field. It shows the score, count, inning, and batter and was clearly designed for football.

As for the actual gameday experience, there is not much going on here beyond the game. There are a couple of things worth noting though. Your gameday ticket doubles as a raffle ticket to win various prizes, so hold on to it. There is also a 50/50 raffle during the game. Instead of handing out conventional tickets, fans who purchase a ticket will take a playing card from the deck, tear it in half, give one half back, and hold on to the other. Whoever has the winning card takes home the prize.

Neighborhood 2

Woodstock is a small town in the scenic Shenandoah Valley, and while it does have that small-town charm, there is really not a lot to do in a town of only about 5,000 people. Smokin’ Jahead is a popular barbecue joint, and there are a handful of other places as well to get a bite to eat, ranging from Mexican to seafood, as well as some chain places closer to the highway. Your best bet is to look along Route 11 (Main Street), as most of the businesses are there in the span of a few blocks.

Fans 2

Woodstock ranks towards the bottom of the Valley League in attendance, drawing between 100 and 200 fans a game on average. Given the way the fans are spread out throughout the stadium in the assorted bleachers, this reduces the atmosphere even more. That being said, the fans who do show up tend to show up not just once but to many games throughout the season, and are very familiar with the River Bandits. This is a knowledgeable fan base, not just about the team but about the game of baseball. It’s too bad there aren’t more of them.

Access 3

Falcon Field is located just off Interstate 81 via Exit 283. Head east on Route 42 (Reservoir Road) and the turn for the stadium will be only a couple of blocks ahead. Route 11/Main Street and Downtown Woodstock (such as it is) is only a block past the field. Given Woodstock is very small, you should not have to go very far to find anything in town, but the downside is it’s far from anything else.

Once you get to Central High School, there is a small lot right next to the entrance as well as a larger lot immediately adjacent to that. While the small lot fills up, you should have no problem parking in the larger lot – just pay attention to arrows directing traffic in certain directions. Restrooms are available in center field next to the concession stand and are small but of ample size for the crowds.

Return on Investment 5

Admission is only $5 for adults, with discounts available for students and seniors. Youth in Little League jerseys get in free. Concessions are affordable, and while you may have to spend a bit on gas to get here depending on where you are coming from, a River Bandits game is still a great value.

Extras 2

There is a team store located in center field by the main bleachers.

The unusual layout of the stadium, with strange dimensions, is certainly worthy of a star here.

Final Thoughts

The Valley Baseball League has a wide range of stadiums, from historic parks like New Market and Staunton to modern parks like Harrisonburg. Woodstock’s stadium is an unusual case. The stadium was designed for football so the layout is not the best, and it doesn’t have the history of the older parks in the league, nor the amenities of Harrisonburg. That being said, for fans of “weird” or unusual ballparks, Falcon Field certainly makes that list. A River Bandits game, like all Valley League games, is a great value for the whole family to check out a game. Just be prepared to either view the game from centerfield or have to take a long walk every time you visit the concession stand or use the restroom.

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