Photo Courtesy of St. Bonaventure Athletics
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Fred Handler Park at McGraw-Jennings Field
3261 W State St
St Bonaventure, NY 14778
Year Opened: 1958
Earth and Turf
Fred Handler Park at McGraw-Jennings Field is home of the St. Bonaventure NCAA Division I baseball team. The original McGraw-Jennings Field dates back to October 1958, and is named after the first ever coaches at St. Bonaventure: John J. McGraw and Hugh Jennings. McGraw and Jennings were respected professional baseball players who are members of the Hall of Fame and they started the first baseball team in 1894. The team was known as the St. Bonaventure ‘Brown Indians’ until 1992 when they changed to the nickname ‘Bonnies.’
The Bonnies have played in the Atlantic 10 conference since 1984, and they won the conference Tournament back in 2004. The current Fred Handler Park is named for longtime Bonnies baseball coach, Fred Handler. The field was converted from natural grass to state-of-the art Sport Turf XP in 2006.
This new green turf field is accentuated by views of the Enchanted Mountains in the background. The Buffalo News recognizes this stadium as one of the Top 10 most beautiful settings to watch a baseball game in the State of New York.
Despite the beautiful setting, the remainder of the experience is average, due to the lack of amenities at the ballpark.
Food & Beverage 0
No food or beverages are served at the stadium, however there are many restaurants and bars in the nearby towns of Allegheny and Olean. If you want something to snack on during the game, or something to drink, then bring your own.
St. Bonaventure fans are recognized as some of the best in the Atlantic 10 as hundreds of students, faculty and locals flock to the hillside seating, IF the weather is good. This is a big IF, because the spring in Western New York can be cold and wet.
In 1979, only 12 of the 24 scheduled games were played due to a very rainy season. In 1972, the Allegheny River flooded the entire field and since then, the town has prohibited building any seating or structures on the site. There is no official capacity at Fred Handler Park because there are no seats. You would be wise to pack your own chair to bring with you to the ballpark. On a nice day, they draw about 500 fans who sit on the hill along the third baseline.
The complex includes an elevated press box behind home plate, and a radio tent for broadcasting the games on local radio ESPN 1450. Dimensions are 330 feet down the left and right field lines, 367 foot power alleys, and 403 feet to center field. There is a small scoreboard in right field, and in left field banners are displayed for the 2004 Atlantic 10 Championship and NCAA Regional tournament appearance. The view from the spectators hill faces southwest into the setting sun, so make sure you bring your sunglasses and a hat with you.
St. Bonaventure is located in the town of Allegheny which has a few decent student bars and restaurants within walking distance of the campus. I would recommend Randy’s Up the River for wings and beer.
You may also want to visit The Burton, which is more of a student bar.
There is a Country Inn and Suites Hotel being constructed across the street from campus which should be open by 2016 baseball season. Another good option is the nearby Hampton Inn in Olean.
The better restaurants and hotels are in the town of Olean about three miles east of campus. Restaurant recommendations include Beef’n’Barrel, and Tasta Pizza.
On a nice day, the Bonnies draw about 500 fans who sit on the hill along the third baseline. Loud music is played between innings and the students dance along. The locals park their trucks facing the field and tailgate while they watch the game. People are told to park at their own risk as several foul balls narrowly missed these vehicles during my most recent visit.
The ballpark is very accessible to campus, and about three miles from the town of Olean. There is plenty of free parking, and since fans don’t pay admission to watch the games, there are no lines or gates. Just park and wander over to the hill to watch baseball. There are no restrooms at the ballpark, but you can walk to Reilly Center across the street to use the restrooms there. The Reilly Center is also where the baseball team locker rooms are located.
Return on Investment 5
There is no fee for tickets or parking, and people generally bring their own food, so there is no real cost to seeing a Bonnies game other than the gas it takes you to get to the ball field.
One extra point for the Atlantic 10 championship banner located in left field. Another extra point for the amazing view of the Enchanted Mountains. One final extra point for the nearby Tim Horton’s location – a great stop for a cup of coffee on cold day.