South County Sports Complex - FCA Braves
Photo by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 1.86
South County Sports Complex 8501 Silverbrook Rd Lorton, VA 22079
Year Opened: 2005 Capacity: 700
Home of the Braves
The Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League is a collegiate summer wood bat league consisting of six teams in the Washington, D.C. area, including three in Maryland, two in Virginia, and one in the District of Columbia itself. One of these teams, the FCA Braves, plays its home games in Lorton, Virginia, in Southern Fairfax County.
The Braves, which are affiliated with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, have had difficulty finding a long-term stadium in recent years. Although they enjoyed great stability for many years playing at Alan McCullock Field in Herndon, the team has now had four home stadiums in the last four years. 2016 was the team’s last stadium playing full time in Herndon, while 2017 saw them split time between Herndon and Oakton High School in Vienna, ten miles to the east.
In 2018, they got yet another home venue, Annandale High School, while 2019 saw them move to their current home at South County High School in Lorton. As the name would imply, Lorton is in the southern part of Fairfax County. The baseball stadium at South County High School is part of a sports complex that also includes stadiums in several other sports.
Food & Beverage 0
There is no food or drink for sale here. Outside food and beverage is permitted with the exception of alcoholic beverages, so feel free to bring some in. You’ll definitely want to bring bottled water to cope with the heat. There is a water fountain in the adjacent football stadium that trickles out warm water if you’re really desperate, but it’s better to bring your own.
There really is not a lot going on here. The team plays music between innings, but that’s about it. No between innings contests, no raffles, nothing to involve the fans. That being said, sometimes less is more and the nice thing about this is you can hear just about everything that goes on in the game. Whether it’s the players chattering with each other, the umpires calling for more balls, or the sound of the players’ cleats on the pavement as they head to refill the water cooler, you’ll be able to hear it. This is a baseball purist’s dream, but for just about anyone else, there isn’t a lot here at all.
There are a few sets of metal bleachers with no backs that fans can sit in, with the third base side in the shade for most of the game and the first base side looking directly into the sun for the first half of the game or so. There are no seats directly behind home plate, as that is where the press box is. There is a scoreboard in the outfield which shows a line score, the count, and any score keeping decisions.
South County High School is located in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Lorton, so there isn’t much in the immediate vicinity. If you turn right out of the parking lot and head a mile or so down Silverbrook Road, there is a little strip mall with a few restaurants including a gyro shop, a pizza place, and a Burger King. Texas Donuts, which has some of the best doughnuts in Northern Virginia, will be opening in the strip mall soon, but as of the time of writing was not open yet.
Other than that, there is not much here. Fans would be better suited to head to Woodbridge or Occoquan, both of which are about a 15-minute drive away and have far better options.
The Braves average only a few dozen fans per game, and for the most part, they are dead silent. Although the Cal Ripken League is not known for high attendances, the crowd here is small and quiet even compared to their rivals. The one time we heard a few fans get rowdy all night, it turns out they were cheering for the wrong player. As it turns out, the Braves have two players with exactly the same first and last name who attend the same college during the year, and these fans were there to support the one with the other middle initial.
South County High School is located a few miles off Interstate 95 via exit 163 (Lorton Road). There is ample parking available in the lot near the stadium, but make sure not to park too close or your car may get hit by a foul ball. Lorton does have a commuter rail station, but the line only runs during commuting hours and it is located several miles away from the stadium, so this is impractical for fans attending evening games.
One unique option for fans traveling from far away (or at least one very specific far away destination) is to take Amtrak’s Auto Train from Orlando, Florida to the other terminal in Lorton (at a separate station from the commuter rail one.) Passengers can drive their car onto the train in Florida, then head to their seat or overnight cabin for the journey. Upon arrival at Lorton the next morning, passengers can drive their car off the train to wherever they plan on heading in town. One nice benefit is that you can load up your trunk exactly like you would for a car trip, so no need to worry about hauling all your bags around the station or finding room in the overhead compartment to store them. Although the vast majority of fans will never benefit from this, it is an interesting enough option that it deserves mention.
The restroom station here is very bizarre. The men’s room in the adjacent football stadium was open when we visited and contained ample space for everyone. However, the women’s room was locked and inaccessible. The only options for ladies were to use a single port-a-potty beyond the outfield fence that was in an area that was difficult to access, or to use the men’s room while someone stands guard outside to make sure no men get in. Most women chose the latter option.
Return on Investment 4
Admission is free, there are no concessions, and you won’t pay for parking. It’s hard to argue with that, but there really isn’t enough here to get it the highest ranking.
The stadium opens two hours early so fans can watch batting practice, the earliest gate opening time in the league. There are free programs available under a rock on the bleachers. They don’t have much, but it’s hard to argue with the price.
Most sports fans in the DC area don’t realize the Ripken League exists, and it shows in the league’s attendance numbers. The FCA Braves in particular have poor attendance, perhaps due to their isolated location within the league and the fact that they have changed home venues so many times. The team also does not seem to do as much to publicize themselves as other teams in the league, even though that is a relatively low standard. The team’s website still lists the address in Annandale, and the team’s Twitter account is even worse, referring to the team as the “Herndon Braves.” With this kind of publicity, it is not really any wonder almost nobody shows up despite the free admission.