- David Welch
Hawkins Field - Vanderbilt Commodores
Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00
2600 Jess Neely Dr
Nashville, TN 37212
Year Opened: 2002
Hawkins Field – Vanderbilt University Commodores Baseball
Tucked in amongst the athletics facilities at Vanderbilt University is Hawkins Field, home of the two-time National Champion Vanderbilt Commodores. Built in 2002, Hawkins Field replaced McGugin Field that sat on the same parcel of land.
Vanderbilt had seen limited success prior to the hiring of coach Tim Corbin in 2003, the season after Hawkins Field was completed. The successes Corbin has headed, between College World Series Championships and the amount of high-level major-league talent produced, has helped in creating one of the top-notch game day atmospheres in college baseball.
Food & Beverage 4
Concessions offerings include BBQ sandwiches ($11) or BBQ nachos ($10), hot dogs ($5.50), nachos and cheese ($7.50), and flat bread pizza ($15). Beverages include a full line of Pepsi products, along with candy and snacks. Daddy’s Dogs serves a wide variety of grilled dogs starting at $6 for the basic.
Outfield seats have access to a concessions tent, along with one of the concessions stands inside of Memorial Gymnasium. Weekend series feature local food trucks that are accessible just outside of the stadium in left-center field.
Two beer stands offer Bud Light Seltzers, Michelob Ultra, and Bud Light ($9) or craft beers ($12); wine is also available ($10).
Vanderbilt offers in-seat ordering to cut down on the wait time of concessions lines.
Hawkins Field is squeezed between the intersection of two campus streets, Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gymnasium and football’s FirstBank Stadium. The limited space results in a bit of a disjoined continuity to the stadium, where the outfield and infield seats are separated.
Infield seats are large with mesh backing, which provides a great deal of comfort – protective netting extends down the entire infield grandstand. This netting does tend to play tricks with your eyes a bit, but seats further back seem to limit the obstruction. Outfield seats are almost entirely aluminum bleachers, with small sections of mesh seats with a drink rail on either side of the batter’s eye.
The configuration of Hawkins Field is rather standard – right field 335’, center field 400’, and the power alleys 375’. Because of the way Hawkins Field abuts Memorial Gymnasium, it creates a short porch at 310’ with a curved 35’ wall that can create some awkward ricochets.
A large HD scoreboard sits beyond the left-center field wall that provides fans with the current batter and stats, line score, and line up, along with the pitcher’s pitch count and velocities. For fans in the outfield, there are smaller scoreboards on the walls of the grandstand which provide score, inning, and count information.
In keeping with a college feel to the game, cheerleaders help fill dead time between innings and following scoring plays, as well as lead fans in traditional Vandy cheers.
The game presentation is not one of constant advertisements, sound effects, and scoreboard games, but there is enough to keep fans entertained throughout the game.
One of the big draws to Nashville is its vibrant nightlife – the epicenter of the excitement has been dubbed the “Honky Tonk Highway”, and is within 2 miles of Vanderbilt’s campus. Here visitors can take in Nashville’s famed juke-joints and bar scene. The historic Ryman Auditorium, the original home of the Grand Ole Opry, is the centerpiece of this downtown neighborhood.
If looking to pair a visit to Vanderbilt with other local sporting events, the Nashville Predators are less than 2 miles away at Bridgestone Arena. Both Lipscomb and Belmont Universities are also within a few miles of the Vanderbilt campus, and Nashville SC of the MLS is just on the other side of I-65, at GEODIS Park. The minor league season of the Nashville Sounds should also be starting up just about the time conference baseball play begins.
While Nashville’s most popular tourist attractions are a quick rideshare away, Centennial Park and the Greek Parthenon replica are immediately across the street from the Vanderbilt campus. The Hillsboro neighborhood directly bordering Vanderbilt also has many shops and quality restaurants.
College baseball might have some of the most passionate fanbases, and even more so in the Southeastern Conference. Even during early season games where the weather might not be ideal for baseball, it does not stop supporters of the Vandy Boys from filling the stands.
Vanderbilt typically packs the house for each game; most weekend series are either sellouts or have just limited seating available.
Commodores fans recognize good performances, and from both the home and visiting teams alike. While they are not shy about giving the visiting team the business during games, they equally acknowledge good play.
Stadiums located in large metropolitan areas frequently come with the traffic headaches associated with big cities. If approaching from the north, south, or west, the best way to get to the stadium would be from I-440, exiting onto 21st Street. This will provide the easiest access to the 25th Street parking garage via Highland Avenue. Fans coming from the east might have more highways to navigate.
Hawkins Field has three points of entry, one being to the grandstand, while the outfield seats have two entrances of their own.
Return on Investment 3
The overall success the Commodores have had under head coach Tim Corbin has translated into an extremely high level of support. While tickets are available for just about every game, waiting until the last minute will either limit the selection, or leave you watching from the top of the nearby parking garage due to tickets being sold out.
Vandy baseball has two separate price levels – for weekday games, typically against non-conference opponents, infield seats run $20 while seats in the outfield bleachers run $10. Tickets to weekend series, mostly series against other ranked teams and conference opponents, run $30 for infield reserved tickets and $20 for seats in the bleachers.
Free parking is available on the 8th through 10th levels of the 25th Street parking deck.
Vanderbilt does a lot to recognize the success of their alumni and program as a whole. Flags with the names of current MLB players from the program fly around the outside stadium; the concourse area also features name plates of the Commodores 1st round draft picks.
Not only are the successes of individual players displayed, but so is the lengthy history of success in both the SEC tournament and the College World Series – fans entering through the main gates are immediately welcomed by the 2009 and 2014 National Championship trophies.
Saturday conference matchups provide young fans with interactive games, autograph signings, and tailgating games, along with arts and crafts.
Vanderbilt also offers a ton of promotions between gate giveaways, discounted tickets, and food specials.
Baseball at the college level is a whole different type of experience than what you might get at the major and minor league levels. From fans and players alike, there is a whole different passion that rides on almost every pitch. When you add in the high level of expectations from a program such as Vanderbilt, it flows over into creating a top notch, college baseball atmosphere.