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  • Writer's pictureDavid Welch

Rhoads Stadium - Alabama Crimson Tide



Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29

Rhoads Stadium

321 Peter Bryce Blvd

Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

Year Opened: 2000

Capacity: 3,940

“Don’t Give A ’Care’ Bout’ Nothin’ but the Tide!”

Not long after the final strands of confetti settle from the College Football National Championship game, and basketball gears up for a final push toward conference tournaments, the action at Rhoads Stadium, home of Alabama Crimson Tide softball, begins to heat up.


Opened in 2000, Rhoads Stadium has seen the Crimson Tide claim six Southeastern Conference regular season titles and has also seen them clinch college softball’s ultimate prize in 2019. Alongside the success Alabama softball has achieved on the field, there has also been a correspondingly high level of support in the stands.

 

Food & Beverage   4

Concessions at Rhoads Stadium offer a wide selection of entrees, including the ever-popular stadium hot dog, fried chicken sandwich, or chicken tenders, all served with French fries. Additionally, loaded fries topped with chili or brisket are available, along with the popular "Roll Tide Rolls”, a type of stuffed bread.


For snacks, options include a large German pretzel with beer cheese, churro donut bites, popcorn, and the baseball classic, peanuts, and Cracker Jack. Beer and other alcoholic beverages are also available at Rhoads Stadium, ranging from domestic and craft-style beers to seltzers and canned cocktails.


The only thing missing are local vendors; it would be nice to have a touch of local tastes to complement the already strong stadium menu.


Atmosphere   5

From the outside, Rhoads Stadium presents a series of brick buildings, primarily housing concessions and restrooms, with iron gates spanning the space between each brick structure.


Upon an initial view of the field, it is impossible to miss the massive Alabama “A” emblazoned on the grass of the center field. A large video scoreboard also sits just beyond the left-center field fence, displaying inning-by-inning line scores, individual player statistics, lineups, and batters due up the next half inning.



The scoreboard is likewise used for video of mid-inning contests. In addition, smaller scoreboards with inning, score, and ball/strike count are visible for those in the outfield, who are seated behind the main scoreboard. Throughout the game, an in-game host engages fans with a variety of games, mostly geared toward younger fans, but which seem to be engaging to all.


The grandstand extends from third base to first base. Seating directly behind home plate, as well as the first four rows of the grandstand, consists of individual fold-down seats. The concourse then continues around to the outfield seating area known as “The Brickyard” – this area is comprised of multiple levels of grassy tiers, filled with fans in camping chairs and serving as the student section. Other fans who prefer not to sit in traditional seats may find the drink rail along the first base side of the field appealing.

 

Neighborhood   5

Rhoads Stadium is situated in the northeast athletics neighborhood of Alabama’s campus next to Baumgardner Tennis Facility and Alabama Soccer Stadium.  At just under 2 miles away, this area of campus is the furthest from Tuscaloosa’s main entertainment district, “The Strip”.  But if the college nightlife of The Strip seems too overwhelming, downtown Tuscaloosa offers a more relaxed atmosphere featuring restaurants, shops, and hotels.


In the immediate area, Alabama restaurant chain Baumhower’s Victory Grille is just across McFarland Boulevard from the softball stadium, situated next to Hampton Inn; most of the other buildings near the facility are parts of the University of Alabama’s medical park.


Approximately a mile and a half south on McFarland Boulevard there is a cluster of mixed-use shopping developments, lodging, and restaurants. While this area is convenient, it lacks the unique charm that defines a college town like Tuscaloosa. The Strip, near Bryant-Denny Stadium, and the downtown area offer much more character and atmosphere.

 

Fans   5

A banner hanging from the fence around the perimeter of Rhoads Stadium boldly proclaims Alabama softball fans as "The Best Softball Fans in the Country”. While the claim might be hard to quantify, a strong case could be made by the Crimson Tide – with an average attendance of over 3,800 fans per game, the only other fan base in the country that can rival this attendance figure is the Oklahoma Sooners.



Certainly, crowds of this size at Rhoads Stadium create significant noise in response to the ebbs and flows of the game. However, there's also a sense that Alabama softball fans are not just supporters because of the name on the front of the jersey; rather, they show passionate dedication to the softball program itself.

 

Access   4

Interstate 20 and two US highways provide easy access to Tuscaloosa, making Rhoads Stadium conveniently reachable for fans coming from any direction. Access to the area is most direct from McFarland Boulevard, which runs just east of campus.


Free parking is available in the lots to the north of Rhoads Stadium, with overflow parking at the student recreation center. Both locations are just a short walk away.


Rhoads Stadium offers two main points of entry: a main gate located just to the first base side of home plate, and a secondary entrance up the right field line, specifically designated for ticket holders in the Brickyard.


The concourse provides ample space for fans to stand and watch the game from behind the grandstand seating without obstructing the flow of foot traffic around the venue.

 

Return on Investment   4

Tickets for seating in the Brickyard start at $10 for non-conference games and $15 for conference series. While this may initially seem high, it's important to consider that softball in the SEC is one of the top conferences in the nation, making $15 a reasonable admission price. Grandstand seating tickets typically belong to season ticket holders and thus are often difficult to find, unless purchased on the secondary market – tickets on the secondary market can be found starting at just $6 after fees.


With tickets available for under $10 and free parking, it balances out the slightly higher concession prices here, making for a more affordable overall experience.

 

Extras   3

The Brickyard seating area offers fans a unique perspective to enjoy the game while providing kids with the freedom to throw a softball or football around.


Numerous graphics around the stadium pay tribute to the team and individual accomplishments of Alabama softball players. The outfield wall showcases the legends of Alabama softball, while the concourse features displays honoring Alabama’s All-Americans and the 2012 National Championship team.


Flying proudly over the right center field wall, a crimson flag commemorates the Crimson Tide’s 2012 National Championship.


 

Final Thoughts

It is no secret that Alabama football is what drives much of the fandom of Crimson Tide athletics, but the passion for athletics does not simply end on the gridiron. Alabama softball enjoys one of the most supportive fan bases in all of college softball.


From the highly supportive fan base to the first-class facility and engaging game presentation, Alabama is one of the top college softball experiences in the country.

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