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  • Writer's pictureDavid Welch

Ken Dugan Field at Stephen Lee Marsh Stadium - Lipscomb Bisons

Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43

Ken Dugan Field at Stephen Lee Marsh Stadium 4103 Granny White Pk Nashville, TN 37204

Year Opened: 1991 Capacity: 1,500


Ken Dugan Field at Stephen Lee Marsh Stadium – Lipscomb University Bisons

Nashville is world renowned for its country music and neon-filled nightlife, but there is also a very wide appeal for baseball in the area – from the professional ranks with the Nashville Sounds (AAA-Milwaukee Brewers), to the two-time national champion Vanderbilt Commodores, to the smaller, rival schools in the city, Belmont and Lipscomb universities.

You do not have to venture far from the hustle-and-bustle of Nashville’s Broadway to find the quiet Green Hills neighborhood and the campus of Lipscomb University.

Lipscomb has a deep baseball history dating back to the 1920s that includes two NAIA National Championships. The Bisons christened the current Ken Dugan Field in 1991, and have made upgrades to it as their program has grown. Since jumping from the NAIA ranks to NCAA Division I, Lipscomb has played as part of the Atlantic Sun Conference since becoming fully recognized members in 2003.

Food & Beverage 3

Concessions here have many of the typical baseball items like hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, candy, and sodas. The biggest game changer on the menu though, the addition of chili, opens a whole new world of possibilities. Hot dogs become chili dogs, nachos have more than just the usual suspect of a cheese cup, and a plain old bag of Fritos is now transformed to Frito pie.

Beverages include a line of bottled Coke products; Lipscomb is an alcohol-free campus, so beer and seltzers are not available.

Atmosphere 3

Upon initial approach, Dugan Field appears to be not much more than a small, brick and cinderblock press box, but after passing through the gates the stadium opens up to a concrete grandstand with alternating seat back chairs and backless bench seating. The bench seating serves more as a footrest than a seat, but can come in handy if the need for more seats should arise. There are a handful of umbrellaed patio tables around the top of the grandstand. While there is no shade in the primary seating area, trees on the grassy berm do provide relief from the sun. Any of the seats are good for taking in the action on the field. Day games make the first base side of the field preferred, to keep from having to face the setting sun all afternoon.

Lipscomb plays on a well-manicured, natural grass surface with a synthetic halo surrounding the home plate area. The field plays to rather traditional dimensions: 330’ down each of the lines, 375’ to each of the gaps, and 400’ to dead center. A symmetrically curved, 8-foot fence is backed with trees from foul pole to foul pole. A simple scoreboard rests in right-center field and is crowned with the school’s gold and purple “L” logo. The scoreboard provides basic inning-by-inning scoring, hit-run-error, and ball/strike information.

Restrooms are built into either side of the lower level of the press box, but are a bit on the small side. The doors to neighboring Allen Arena seem to be left open to provide fans with a second restroom option.

Throughout the game there are not a lot of ad reads, but there are a handful of promotions to engage fans during the downtime between innings. Promotions include a “Let’s Make a Deal” type game that looks for a fan with a random item, Lipscomb baseball trivia, sing-along-karaoke, and a t-shirt toss. The remainder of the mid-inning downtime is filled with popular music.

Neighborhood 4

The Lipscomb campus is a bit removed from the bright lights of Nashville’s entertainment district, but is just 2 miles from the 12 South neighborhood that is populated with several coffee shops, restaurants, and boutiques. Though 12 South does not have all the lights and glitz of Nashville’s Broadway, the entertainment epicenter of Nashville is just five miles away.

Lipscomb University itself is in Nashville’s Green Hills neighborhood, which is made up of several large, beautiful homes. Some of these homes are visible just over the right field wall.

Nashville is a city ripe with sports entertainment, and much of it is not far from the Lipscomb campus. Belmont and Vanderbilt baseball teams play at separate fields, each just three miles away. On the north side of the city is First Tennessee Park, home of the AAA Nashville Sounds (Milwaukee Brewers). The Nashville SC of the MLS should just be starting their season as the Bisons are getting theirs going, while the Nashville Predators should be making a push just about the same time, in preparation for the NHL playoffs.

Fans 3

Even though Nashville is a city that always seems to have something going on, Lipscomb does a fairly good job at drawing fans to baseball games, given the size of the university.

Baseball attendance typically ranges from the mid 200s to the lower 400s per game. As might be expected, high profile programs do a lot to boost attendance to just over 1,000. On average, Lipscomb ranks in the middle of the Atlantic Sun conference when it comes to attendance. Students make up a decent amount of the total fans in the stands, but do not get overly rambunctious as students might at other schools.

Fans are not necessarily loud, but they are actively engaged in the game and supportive.

Access 4

The most direct access to Lipscomb is via Interstate-65 from the north or south, or from the I-440 bypass if approaching from the east, west, or from Interstate-24 (toward Murfreesboro). The campus is within 2 miles of either highway.

Nashville has made a substantial investment in its public transportation, which does have a bus stop at the Lipscomb campus.

Parking is available in either the Allen Arena East or West parking decks, and is just a short walk to Marsh Stadium’s entry gate. Even though there are entry points at the front of the stadium, the gate adjacent to Allen Arena is used for fan entry.

Return on Investment 4

Tickets for Lipscomb baseball are a single, general admission price of $5. With free parking and reasonable concession prices, the monetary investment in going to a game at Dugan Field is minimal.

Given the wide number of choices for sporting events in Nashville, the time investment might be a bit more of the prohibitive issue. Nevertheless, Lipscomb does well to attract from their own student body and the surrounding community.

Extras 3

Lipscomb’s conference tournament successes and NCAA Regional appearances are recognized with banners on the West parking garage's exterior.

There is a fair amount of grassy area for kids to run and play catch, while not getting in the way of fans watching the game.

Lipscomb runs many promotions and giveaways throughout the season, including “Sunday Fun Day” where kids can run the bases post-game.

Final Thoughts

Even though baseball at Lipscomb would not be considered a destination ballpark, it is an enjoyable time. Opponents from Power-5 conferences tend to give a significant boost to the stadium's attendance and overall atmosphere. While Lipscomb probably is not going to pull many fans from the other collegiate or professional teams in town, they don’t really need to. The amount of Lipscomb fans, combined with a thoughtful game presentation, makes baseball at Ken Dugan Field an overall fun experience.

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