Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium - Charlotte 49ers
Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29
Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium 8711 Phillips Rd Charlotte, NC 28223
Year Opened: 2007
Robert & Mariam Hayes Stadium: University of North Carolina–Charlotte 49ers
Baseball came to the campus of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in 1984 after playing their first five seasons downtown, away from their northeast Charlotte campus location. The original field was dedicated in 1988 as the wonderfully alliterative, Phillips Field, following a donation from local businessman Tom Phillips, who would pay for lights to be installed at the Niners’ home diamond. The field would receive a major facelift in 2006 through a nearly $6 million gift from North Carolina philanthropist Mariam Cannon Hayes; those renovations transformed the baseball facilities at Charlotte into the gem it is today.
Food & Beverage 5
Hayes Stadium has two concession stands built into the lower level of the grandstand – their menus are slightly different, so make sure to check both before deciding on a meal.
There are many typical concession items, such as hot dogs, burgers, fries, and chicken fingers. The availability of chili on the menu, though, takes some of the drab usual concession suspects and puts a whole new face on them. And one side of the concession stand also offers items from the popular regional southern restaurant Bojangles.
Beverage choices include Coke products, PowerAde, and bottled water. The stadium also offers seltzers, wine, domestic beers, and craft beers from local Cabarrus Brewing Company. There are also the Charlotte 49ers branded Gold Rush Lager and Axe to Grind IPA.
Overall, Charlotte takes traditional concessions and brings them to another level – it’s not just hot dogs, it’s chili dogs; it’s not just burgers, it’s jalapeno bacon cheeseburgers; it’s not just grilled chicken, it’s grilled chicken with Swiss or a Philly version of chicken with peppers and provolone. The Niners knock it out of the park with their concession offerings.
Hayes Stadium is a beautiful brick structure that sits down at the bottom of a small hill from neighboring Jerry Richardson Stadium. A statue of a baseball player in the upper entry plaza welcomes fans as they make their way under the canopy of trees, down multiple levels of brick stairs to the front of the stadium.
Upon entering the main gates fans are greeted by a spectacular view of the university’s surrounding athletic facilities and heart of Charlotte’s campus. After admiring the backdrop, the combination synthetic infield with natural grass outfield really pops out as being unique; the green infield with yellow-toned grass outfield really complements the school’s green and gold color scheme well.
The grandstand sits above field level and is made up of two sections of seats – the lower level consists of six rows of individual seat backs that run dugout to dugout, while the upper level is made up of aluminum benches with back supports. There is no covered seating in the stadium, however, so there is little escape from the elements be they sun or rain. Some fans looking for shade find themselves in the entry ways which run below the press box, creating a covered area. The seating bowl faces southeast, so the stadium itself can provide natural shade for games later in the day.
With Phillips Drive running just beyond the right-field fence, it plays a bit short at 315’. The fence bows out a bit to accommodate the Niners bullpen, and probably shortens the wall to closer to 310’, before stretching out to 370’ in the right-center field power alley. Center field plays a touch short at 395’, while the left-center fence matches its partner at 370’, and the wall then wraps around to a more standard 335’ in left.
For most of the game, the field's action is kept as the sole focus of entertainment. There are occasional drops of sound effects, but not to the point where every foul ball is accompanied by a slide whistle or the sound of breaking glass. A rather ominous tone is played when the pitcher gets two strikes on a batter, in anticipation of an impending strikeout.
Hayes Stadium is nestled in the heart of UNC-Charlotte’s athletic facilities. The university calls the stadium “a crown jewel on the camps”, which plays well off the city’s moniker “The Queen City.” The stadium is a bit of a transitional location between the school’s athletic facilities and the academic, administrative, and residential buildings on campus.
The Charlotte campus is distanced from the hustle and bustle of downtown Charlotte, but that does not equate to a lack of entertainment and recreational options. The UNCC campus is on the city’s light rail line, so accessing Truist Field, home of the AAA Charlotte Knights, is just a short walk from the Convention Center stop. Also, Charlotte Motor Speedway is less than 5 miles north on Concord Highway, and has NHRA and NASCAR events in April and May.
The area around campus is made up of several office buildings, regional chain restaurants, stores, a mall, and hotels. Even though there is not the feel of being in the heart of Charlotte, there are still plenty of options when it comes to filling time before or after a game.
Games at Hayes Stadium are typically close to one-third of the stadium’s full capacity of 3,000. Fans tend to fill the lower-level seating area, and some can be rather boisterous in their support of the 49ers, or maybe even their opposition to the visiting team.
The crowd appears to be a mix of alumni and parents of players, with a smattering of students spread out around the seating area. Fans remain actively engaged in both their support for the home team and in their heckling of the visitors.
Overall, the 49ers fans recognize and show appreciation for good baseball, and do not typically take the natural chatter of college baseball too far.
The UNCC campus is a touch over 2 miles off I-85 which runs through Charlotte. Charlotte's Lynx light rail system has multiple stops at the Charlotte campus, which makes getting from downtown rather easy. There are two stops for UNCC’s campus, both about the same distance to Hayes Stadium.
For fans driving to the facility there is a limited amount of parking available at Jerry Richardson Stadium. Free parking is also available at the CRI parking deck – make sure to bring your ticket with you and listen for an announcement regarding validating your parking.
Even though parking directly at the field can be a bit challenging, Charlotte does everything it can to make getting to the field as easy as possible.
There is one entry point into the stadium which fans pass through to a wide-open walkway between the levels of seating. The wide walkways help to eliminate chokepoints that can make it difficult for fans to navigate the stadium.
Return on Investment 4
With field level seats running $10 and bleacher seats just $5, prices are very reasonable. When you consider free parking and relatively inexpensive concession prices, fans are definitely getting their money’s worth when attending a 49ers game.
The 49ers have retired five numbers in program history: Bo Robinson (4), Joey Anderson (5), Brian Shifflett (7), Tim Collie (15), and Adam Mills (31). Those retired jerseys are recognized down the third base line.
The baseball promotional staff has organized promotions for all their weekend games, along with several gate giveaways. Friday games are Friday Flight Nights featuring beer and hot dog ticket packages, followed by Saturday Bingo Nights and Sunday Family Fun Days with family friendly ticket packages and kids being able to run the bases after the game.
The right centerfield wall proudly displays the program’s conference successes and NCAA tournament appearances.
While Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium is already an impressive facility, as part of Charlotte’s EverGreen Master Plan there are plans to improve it even further. Seated is planned to be extend down both lines, a shade canopy would be added around the top of the seating bowl, and a standing room only pavilion would be added, with many other improvements for the staff and players.
At initial thought, many might not give baseball at Charlotte much attention, but it definitely is a hidden gem on the college baseball scene. From the facilities, to the scenic back drop and baseball atmosphere created, baseball games at Charlotte provide a wonderful experience for even fans who might not have a rooting interest in the game.