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Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.57
Roy E Lee Field at Simmons Baseball Complex Stadium Dr. Edwardsville, IL 62025
Year Opened: 1972
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville has played baseball at their current stadium site since 1972. Renovations were made to the facility in 2004, 2005 and 2010. With the 2005 renovations, the field was transformed into a stadium.
The field is named after Roy E. Lee, the founder of the SIUE program and the coach who led the Cougars to three Division II College World Series appearances. The complex is named for John Simmons, who along with his law firm, contributed money for the renovations for the facility.
Seating capacity for the stadium is 1,000, including three rows of chair seats that stretch between the two dugouts. Three sections of bleachers (with backs) are directly behind home plate and lead up to the press box.
From 1968 through the 2008 season, the Cougars played at the Division II level. SIUE joined the Ohio Valley Conference as they transitioned to Division I in 2008. The 2012 season was the first year the Cougars played a full conference schedule, although they were not eligible for postseason play until 2013.
While the transition to Division I hasn’t been kind to SIUE on the field, fans do not have to look far back to remember the program's success. Along with the three Division II CWS appearances under Lee, the school made five Division II CWS trips with longtime coach Gary Collins at the helm for 34 years.
Food & Beverage 2
There is one small concession stand behind the seating area. The stand does not feature anything out of the ordinary. A sign is posted to the left of the window that features the stand’s fare. However, no prices are listed and some items are covered by masking tape to signify they are no longer available. During my most recent visit, by the time I made my way to the concession stand brats, soft pretzels and hot cocoa had been removed from the sign.
Hot dogs and nachos are the two main items available. Bags of chips, candy bars and individual bags of microwave popcorn are available for snacking, and are a steal for just 50 cents. The 20-ounce bottled drink offerings include Pepsi products, Gatorade, and water ($2.50).
There are not a lot of frills involved in the game day presentation at Roy Lee Field. So, the atmosphere will most likely be determined by the weather and the game on the day you attend.
There are four sections (with three rows each) of red stadium seats directly behind home plate. These sections are uncovered. These seats are very close to the action and are filled up by the families of the players and the diehard fans. If the home plate umpire is not on his game, he will hear from these folks.
Behind an aisle are three more sections of bleachers with backs. These seats are covered by a metal roof canopy. Due to poles holding up the canopy, there are a few obstructed views, but plenty of room to spread out and see all the action. At the top of this section is the press box, along with some very loud speakers for the public address system.
There are plenty of places to stand and stretch your legs while still seeing the action. Several folks stand behind the first three rows of seats in the areas where there aren’t bleachers directly behind them. Also, there is a grass area down the first base line by the visitor’s dugout.
Beyond the left field fence and outside of the stadium is a small hill where students can sit and take in the game for free. It’s a small hill, so there isn’t room for too many people. The students bring bag chairs and grills for weekend games.
The field features Astro Turf GameDay Grass with only dirt for the warning track. Dimensions are symmetrical with 330 feet down the lines, 375 to the power alleys and 390 to dead center.
A game program is available, featuring rosters and stats for both teams, along with an SIUE schedule. The program features ads from businesses that support SIUE athletics. The ads for restaurants and bars help new visitors to the area figure out where to stop in for a bite to eat and a drink after the game.
The Simmons Baseball Complex is located on New Poag Road in the northwest corner of campus. The stadium is somewhat detached from the heart of campus, with the baseball field surrounded by corn and bean fields. It’s a short drive from campus to downtown Edwardsville, with plenty of eating and drinking options.
I stopped after the game at Dewey’s Pizza in historic, downtown Edwardsville. Dewey’s has five St. Louis area locations, along with several stores throughout Ohio. The menu features several choices of salads, calzones and pizza, including seasonal choices. The seasonal pizza when I visited was Dewey’s delicious take on a taco pizza, named after former pro wrestler, Tito Santana. The bar also features seasonal choices and I went with a seasonal beer from St. Louis favorite, Schlafly. An 11-inch pizza and draft beer will run you about $20, but it’s totally worth the price. If you’re dining with kids, the kitchen area features a glass window, so the youngsters can line up and see the pizzas being made.
Former St. Louis Cardinals player and long-time radio voice, Mike Shannon, opened up a restaurant in Edwardsville in 2013. Mike Shannon’s Grill is a more casual version of his steak and seafood restaurant that is a downtown St. Louis institution. If you’re looking for an upscale sports bar in the Metro East area, you can’t go wrong here.
With a program struggling through the transition to Division I, it would be understandable if the fans stayed away until the team got on steadier footing. Instead the Cougars are supported by vocal family and friends. If the fans behind the plate disagree with the strike zone, they make it known. The students grilling out behind the left field wall add a nice touch not seen in bigger parks.
The Simmons Baseball Complex features a sizable parking lot that fills up due to the fact that the field is separated from campus and all attendees are driving to the game. If the lot fills, cars can park in the grass close to the road.
The restroom facilities are a little different than at most stadiums. Instead of a men’s room and women’s room with multiple facilities, there are four restrooms at the complex: one men’s room, one women’s room and two unisex rooms. The bathrooms are more reminiscent of a gas station, but cleaner, than a baseball stadium. There might be a short wait, as the visiting team also utilizes these restrooms.
Return on Investment 2
At $7, general admission is fairly steep for Division I baseball outside of say the SEC, Pac 12 or ACC. The drinks are also a little pricey, but snacks are affordable. Parking is free. Spending nearly $10 seems too high when conference foes with similar stadiums do not charge admission.
Beyond the left field wall is a sign paying homage to the history of the Cougars baseball program. The sign features the names and numbers of four of the more successful players in SIUE history that have moved onto the big leagues. The names and retired numbers are Champ Summers (19), Dennis Werth (15), Aaron Rakers (35) and Clay Zavada (13). The sign also notes the years of the eight D-II College World Series appearances (’72, ’76, ’77, ’83, ’85, ’91, ’97, and ’01).
Roy Lee Field at the Simmons Baseball Complex is a nice facility for a program that is in a growth stage. As SIUE continues at the D-I level, the atmosphere should continue to grow as well.