Photos courtesy of Lehigh Athletics
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.14
J. David Walker Field at Legacy Park 123 Goodman Dr Bethlehem, PA 18015
Year Opened: 2015
Watching the Hawks
J. David Walker Field at Legacy Park is located on the Goodman Campus in Bethlehem, PA, and is another one of those parks that is so small it lacks a real address, so your GPS can only get you very close. Like many smaller schools, the athletics facilities tend to be clustered together at Lehigh, so you will find the baseball diamond right behind the Rauch Field House, next to the tennis courts and not far from the track – if you can get to Goodman Drive you should be able to find the venue, eventually.
Food & Beverage 0
Currently there is no concessions stand, so you have to bring your own food and drinks if you want them, and many do – a number of fans sit or stand on the hill overlooking the park (behind the press box), and there is a real tailgating atmosphere there, including numerous food tables and coolers for beer; more on that in the Fans section below.
Not a terrible place to see a game; since it is so small you can get really close to the action and clearly hear the crack of the bat and the shouts from the umpire; the attendance is also pretty decent, so you can experience some good crowd noise. However, the facilities are admittedly lacking – it was built so long ago the Internet doesn’t even know when, there are no concessions, and all the seats are metal bleachers (only some have chair back rails, which are at least painted in the team colors).
The Mountain Hawks compete in the Patriot League, which has been dominated by Bucknell for the last 25 years, and only has 5 baseball teams besides Lehigh (Army, Bucknell, Holy Cross, Lafayette, and Navy).
There aren’t any restaurants close to J. David Walker Field at Legacy Park, which is a bummer since they don’t sell food inside, so to find anything to eat you pretty much have to go downtown, where there are several fast food and local places.
But the real jewel in Bethlehem, and probably the only place worth hanging out before or after the game (except for the Sands Casino Resort) is the Apollo Grill, which is located on West Broad Street, and for 15 years has been voted the best restaurant in Lehigh Valley (pretty much every year since it opened). Reservations are suggested because it is so popular. A little on the pricey side, Apollo’s offers a variety of sandwiches as well as seafood options, but also fancier entrees like pork, veal, and lamb. The atmosphere is pretty lively – the only downside is that wine and martinis are the only adult beverage options.
If you plan to stay the weekend, the main attraction in Bethlehem is the aforementioned Sands Casino Resort, which opened in 2009, and added the hotel and an outlet mall in 2011 – the resort complex includes nearly a dozen restaurant as well as four night clubs. Sands and the Holiday Inn are the main hotel options in Bethlehem proper, so if neither of those is your scene you may want to try nearby Allentown, which has several Hiltons, a Ramada, a Wingate by Wyndham, and a few off-brand lodging choices.
Lehigh draws a pretty good crowd for baseball games. The capacity at J. David Walker Field at Legacy Park is only 500, and the stands tend to get pretty full, so a lot of fans instead choose to watch from the hill behind the press box. You will see a long row of tables up there loaded with food, as well as several beer coolers hidden underneath, and that crowd gets pretty raucous, more so than the folks in the stands.
A lot of fans in both areas wear Lehigh gear, and they loudly and proudly support their team, and boo the bad guys.
I mentioned earlier that J. David Walker Field at Legacy Park is hard to find because it doesn’t have a real address. Once you get to it, though, parking is easy to find – there are small lots all around the park, with plenty of space to accommodate the typical crowd size.
The bathrooms are a little odd, however – there are plenty of them, but they are the inside-a-trailer type, not your usual free-standing option. Admittedly they are a step up from port-a-johns, so I guess they do the job, and at least they are clean and close to the stands!
Return on Investment 3
Admission to Lehigh baseball games is free, as is parking. However, they don’t have concessions here, which may be problematic for some. Nevertheless, the crowd is pretty solid, so that makes a visit to J. David Walker Field at Legacy Park a lot of fun. If you can suck up the weird bathrooms and the lack of food and drink for a few hours (or haul in your own), it is probably a worthwhile trip.
One point for the Sands Casino Resort – this provides a great additional reason (besides the baseball) to make the drive out to Bethlehem.
Another point for the tailgating on the hill – you rarely see this at baseball games, so it adds a nice bit of fun and uniqueness.
A decent place to see a baseball game, with a really good crowd, and a great opportunity to do some tailgating, which you can’t do at a lot of other college baseball stadiums. J. David Walker Field at Legacy Park also underwent some renovations since this article was published, so the venue should look even better right now.