- Paul Donaldson
Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field – Southeastern Louisiana Lions
Photos by Paul Donaldson, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86
Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field
W Dakota St
Hammond, LA 70402
Southeastern Louisiana Lions website
Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field website
Year Opened: 1992
Pat on the Back
Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field, home to the Southeastern Louisiana Lions, is an under-the-radar college baseball mid-major gem. While other stadiums across the country might provide more modern features like wild concession items and minor league antics, The Pat provides a comfortable environment with the classic elements that provide a great neighborhood ballpark atmosphere.
The ballpark is located in the city of Hammond on the southwest corner of the Southeastern Louisiana University campus. Since opening in 1992, Alumni Field has undergone several enhancements including brick wall fencing along both foul lines, installation of a new playing surface with natural Bermuda Tifway 419 sod, and decorative-perimeter fencing on the outside of the stadium. A new video scoreboard and party-deck-style box seats in the foul area along right field were installed in 2016 and have improved an already great environment.
The playing field is named in honor of former long-time baseball coach, athletic director, and football coach for Southeastern Louisiana, Pat Kenelly, and was designated as such on February 19, 2006. The official capacity is listed as 2,500.
Food & Beverage 2
The Pat provides the basic stadium staples you’d expect at a ballpark and also offers a couple of unique items like frozen daiquiris. The main concession stand and an ice cream cart are located under the grandstand and behind the home plate. Beyond the bleachers down the first baseline is a beer and daiquiri stand operated by Wise Guys Daiquiris (a local, independent vendor).
While the variety of options is anything but unlimited, the basics are covered. Your main entree items will include a Chick-fil-A sandwich ($5), hamburger ($4), hot dog ($3), and nachos ($4). Snacks include popcorn ($2), peanuts ($2), pickles ($1), and assorted candy ($1). Specials such as pulled pork sandwiches and jambalaya are available and vary from game to game. There’s also an ice cream stand (Captain’s Tasty Treats) across from the main concession stand which offers up ice cream sandwiches and bars.
The ballpark serves bottled Coca-Cola products for $3. One of the most unique items offered at The Pat is an assortment of daiquiris served up at the Wise Guys stand out in the right field concourse. Beer is also available for purchase, which is somewhat unique for a college ballpark.
Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field provides a genuinely great neighborhood ballpark atmosphere.
Situated at the corner of the campus where the university meets the residential area, your view around the ballpark includes neighborhood homes and Strawberry Stadium beyond the outfield wall. The brick foul line walls and iron outer fencing add to the cozy ambiance of the ballpark. The new video scoreboard has enhanced the overall experience. It’s pretty unique to see a mid-major program with its outfield bullpen (of such high quality), which is located inside the left field wall and was constructed in 2012.
Some additional signage and displays provide a “home” feel around the ballpark. Both dugouts have signage that displays the field name. The area underneath the grandstand behind home plate pays homage to significant Lion baseball players and coaches with banners hanging from the rafters. A display can be found on the wall listing the different Lions baseball players who have gone pro including Kirk Bullinger and Wade Miley. Post-season accomplishments are displayed including TAAC Championships and NCAA Regional appearances in both 1992 and 1994 and a College World Series berth in 1975.
The layout of the stadium is a strength with box seats available under the main grandstand and just behind home plate. A new “party deck” area was developed down the first base line in the right field. In the upper level, chair backs are provided in the center of the seating area with bleacher seating on both sides. The bleacher seating along the third baseline typically features the younger crowd, including SLU student groups. Fans of the opposing team often sit on the first baseline side of the upper deck grandstand, across from the visitor’s dugout.
The city of Hammond is your classic small college town. While there isn’t a long list of attractions in the area, Hammond is home to a few great independent restaurants and you’ll find enough entertainment to keep you satisfied during a trip in town. For extended stays, both Baton Rouge and New Orleans are within driving distance (approximately an hour's drive).
While in town, be sure to stop at Mariner’s Inn in the historic downtown area. This pub-style restaurant offers a bar area, a couple of tasty chowders, and an amazing ‘Kickin’ Chicken’ sandwich. Tommy’s on Thomas is another great stop for pizza, Buffalo breadsticks, and drinks. Some additional options include Brady’s Restaurant (order the club sandwich), Trey Yen (try the sweet and sour pork), and La Carreta Mexican Restaurant (fajitas are great).
When it comes to attractions, Hammond doesn’t have a plethora of options, however, you’ll find a few decent college town bars and some family entertainment in the area. Check out The Red, White & Brew, and Wise Guys Daiquiris for a pre or postgame drink. If you are traveling with small kids, the Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center is a small, but fun break from the baseball action. If you have time for a 30-minute drive, the Global Wildlife Center offers a fun family safari adventure complete with feeding giraffes and other wildlife.
There are several hotels in the Hammond area. If you’re looking for a bed & breakfast experience, check out the Historic Michabelle Inn & Restaurant. The Holiday Inn Hammond – Northshore offers a comfortable stay near I-12 and the Hammond Square Mall shopping center.
The Southeastern Lions baseball fan base is continuing to grow with the success of the program. While fans are not the rowdiest you’ll encounter, most are friendly, supportive, and knowledgeable about baseball.
The typical crowd for Southeastern baseball games ranges from about 900 to 1,200, depending on the match-up. It wasn’t long ago when the program struggled to bring in 250 consistently, but winning ways have Lion faithful feeling nostalgic about a program that had a successful run in the ’90s. Crowds will reach their peak against in-state rivals like Tulane, UL-Lafayette, and LSU, as well as in-state conference foes including Nicholls State, McNeese State, and Northwestern State.
Lions fans get into the game during big plays and bad calls. The baseball program can be credited with starting the newest and most visible fan tradition at Southeastern, known as the “Lion Up.” Both hands make an L shape and are placed on both sides of the head.
Overall, access to Alumni Field is a breeze. There are a couple of pain points, but you shouldn’t experience many problems getting around the ballpark.
Hammond is located at the intersection of two major interstates, I-55 and I-12. The ballpark is accessible from both, depending on the direction you’re arriving from. Your quickest route to the stadium is probably via I-55. Exit onto W. University Ave. and head east for about 1.75 miles until you reach the SLU campus. Turn right onto N. General Pershing St. and go about a half mile where you’ll then turn left on Western Ave. You’ll see the ballpark and parking garage connected to Strawberry Stadium.
There are a few rows of ground-level parking behind the right field wall, but these spots will typically fill quickly and are in prime home run broken window territory. If you don’t mind a little longer walk, park on the first level of the parking garage or the ground lot around it (further out from the outfield wall). Parking is free and plentiful around the stadium.
The ticket booth is located at the end of the first baseline in the right field. As crowds have increased, so has the line at the ticket window. Be prepared for as much as a 15-minute wait to purchase tickets. The main entrance gate is on the first base side of the home plate.
As a smaller, neighborhood ballpark, The Pat is constrained some by the surrounding homes and facilities. The concourses are typically wide enough to move around comfortably but can get a little congested as the concession line grows. The restrooms usually don’t have any lines but are a bit small for the typical crowd size. The foul line bleachers along both the first and third baselines don’t have clear aisles, so for bigger crowds, it can sometimes be a challenge to get up and down to your seat in these sections.
Return on Investment 5
Considering the overall experience and atmosphere, it’s hard to top the return on your investment at The Pat. General admission for adults is $8 and $5 for youth (3-12). Chairbacks are available for $12 and the lower box seats are for $15. Concession prices are reasonable and parking is free.
There are a few “extra” items at The Pat which significantly enhance the overall game day atmosphere:
SLU does an outstanding job memorializing past accomplishments and great players. Several banners are hanging in the main concourse which honor former players and championships. The ballpark also has a starting lineup display, as well as the current conference standings. It’s a nice benefit to fans in the main concourse.
While more and more college baseball programs move towards a synthetic turf playing surface, it’s refreshing to watch a small college baseball game played on a beautiful, well-kept, authentic grass playing surface. The program keeps the playing field in excellent condition. The brick foul line walls and decorative iron fencing add to the overall ambiance of the stadium. Many recent improvements have helped establish a truly classic ballpark feel.
Finding beer at college baseball venues isn’t easy, much less frozen daiquiris. It’s a nice bonus that doesn’t get out of hand.