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  • Writer's pictureDavid Welch

Stephen B. Dolny Stadium – Lander Bearcats



Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Stephen B. Dolny Stadium 419 Montague Avenue

Greenwood, SC 29649


Year Opened: 2012 Capacity: 750

 

Lander Bearcats

Established in 1872 as Williamston Female College and later renamed Landers College in 1907, athletics at what is now Lander University would not start up until 1968 with the men’s and women’s basketball programs.


Initially a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), Landers would become a charter member of the NCAA Division II Peach Belt Conference, formed in 1990. The Peach Belt Conference stretches along the southern coast with teams in North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.


Lander University is about 30 miles north of the South Carolina border with Georgia in the small town of Greenwood. While relatively small in population (approximately 22,000), the city of Greenwood has an impressive list of notable one-time residents including Benjamin Mays, former mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Hootie Johnson, past chairman of the Augusta National; former Wichita State men’s basketball coach Gregg Marshall; and a slew of NFL players, most notably Ben Coates, Super Bowl champion tight end with the New England Patriots.

 

Food & Beverage   4

The concession stand here is located outside of Dolny Stadium, centrally providing concessions for baseball along with the nearby venues. The lodge-style building stands separate from the baseball and softball stadiums; the building housing the concession stand features a deck that overlooks the softball stadium, offering fans the chance to check out the action before returning to the baseball game.


The concessions offer many options from Chick-fil-A sandwiches and hot dogs to chili dogs and nachos with a choice of cheese, chili, or both. Candy, chips, and other snacks are also available.


The beverage options at Dolny Stadium are extensive, including bottled and fountain Pepsi products and Aquafina water. For those looking for alcoholic beverages, the stand offers Michelob Ultra, White Claw, and bottle-poured wine. Also, Lander University has its own branded golden ale, Bearcat Brew, from the Greenwood craft brewery Good Times Brewing.

 

Atmosphere   3

Dolny Stadium has a rather open feel to it, with only a small brick press box around the top of the seating bowl – the field is pretty much visible from any vantage point around the concourse.


Chairback seats run 5 to 7 rows deep from the cut of the outfield grass. For those who might prefer to spread out a bit, or for kids to run and release a bit of pent-up energy, a small grassy berm of seating runs down the first baseline. In addition, a handful of picnic tables dot the concourse that runs behind the seating bowl.


Dolny Stadium uses brick support columns and a brick backstop, which seamlessly complement finished wooden support beams in the seating behind the home plate. The combination of wood, brick, and blue stadium seats makes for a nicely presented facade.

A chain link fence, with fence supports framed with padding, creates the wall from left field around to center. The wall is a bit short of the standard dimensions with left field at 325’ and 365’ to the left-center power alley; the center field runs at 401’. The outfield wall from the center around to the right is more of a typical padded fence backed with a large retaining wall. With a road that runs atop the wall, the right field distances are a touch short at 355’ to the right center power alley, while the right field goes 320’. A typical inning-by-inning scoreboard sits atop the retaining wall beyond the right-centerfield fence.




There are not a lot of distractions by way of sound effects, other than some quips interjected during mound visits from the press box. Inning changes are kept simple, typically filled with either rock or country music as the pitcher comes out to warmups to begin each half-inning.


When it comes to the seating at Dolny Stadium, there isn't a bad seat in the house. The seating bowl is right on top of the action, allowing fans to almost feel as if they are part of the game. The seats behind the home plate provide the most shade and cover from any potential sun or rain in the forecast. Several fans also choose to bring their foldable chairs, to sit along the back of the last row of stadium seats.

 

Neighborhood   4

Dolny Stadium is part of Jeff Mays Sports Complex which also includes Doug Spears Softball Field and Van Taylor Soccer Stadium. The proximity of these facilities allows fans to check out other games that might be going on.



The Mays Sports Complex is located just off the Lander campus, under a mile from the oak-lined Main Street that runs through downtown Greenwood. Visitors will find several shops and restaurants along Main Street – Mill House Pizza, Howard’s on Main, Kickers Takeout, Buenavista, Montague’s, and Southern Soul on Main all come highly recommended. Those looking for a taste of the local microbrew scene might find Sled Dawg Brewery or Good Times Brewing of interest, both just off Main Street. Closer to May Sports Complex, visit the Dixie Drive-In for a throwback burger dive experience.

 

Fans   3

Lander University ranks in the top half of the Peach Belt Conference in attendance, with just a tick under 200 fans per game. Fans are vocally supportive of the Bearcats, but in all appear to be on the same side. As expected, borderline calls can create a bit of a buzz in the stands, but it is nothing that would not be seen from any typical fanbase.

 

Access   3

Without direct interstate access to Greenwood, visitors heading to Lander’s Dolny Stadium face a bit of a drive. The most traveled roads in the area, I-26 to the east, I-85 on the west, or I-385 coming from the north, leave at least an hour’s drive on state or US highways.


Once at Jeff May Complex, most parking is toward the back of the facility, which should suffice if there is just one event going on, but with multiple fields hosting events simultaneously, there might be some competition for prime parking spots. Lots are near Dolny Stadium, so other than navigating the stairs leading to the front entrance, accessing the stadium is straightforward – those needing the assistance of ramps will want to look to the sloped area along the first baseline for easier entry into the facility.


The concourse of the stadium runs behind the seating bowl and is reasonably easy to get around, but does not continue around the whole field; rather it horseshoes around home plate and up to the cut of the outfield grass. Since the concession stand and restrooms are shared with the other facilities within the complex, fans do have to exit the stadium to reach them. The field is visible the whole time, however, so the amount of the game missed is minimal.

 

Return on Investment   5

Admission to Lander baseball games is $5 for fans 13 and up, with kids 12 and under free. Concession prices are very reasonable as well and will not break the bank; even alcohol prices are more in line with what would be paid at a pub, more so than an inflated stadium price. And with free parking, Bearcat baseball is an extremely affordable experience.

 

Extras   3

The outfield wall recognizes the Bearcat’s Peach Belt regular season championships and NCAA Division II tournament appearances in 2012, 2014, and 2016, as well as their 2014 and 2016 trips to the D2 College World Series.


With Dolny Stadium’s proximity to the softball and lacrosse fields, it is easy to come for a baseball game and stay for a lacrosse or softball game.


The Capsugel walking/jogging track runs 4/5ths of a mile through and around Jeff May Complex. Not only does this give fans a bit of an opportunity to get some exercise in, but fans can do so while keeping up with the scores of the various games around the facility – the track is open year-round for community members to take advantage of.

 

Final Thoughts

Dolny Stadium gives fans a comfortable baseball experience in an intimate setting, at a wonderful complex that promotes the simultaneous support of multiple Lander University athletic programs.


Baseball at Lander University can be much more than just a baseball experience. Jeff May Complex brings together an entire community and athletic department and gives fans an easy opportunity to check in on the status of other games going on, and possibly stick around a bit longer than planned for tight games that might be reaching their conclusion.

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