Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
2021 Ivy Road
Charlottesville, VA 22904
The University of Virginia Cavaliers field hockey program is among the most successful college field hockey teams in the country, making the NCAA tournament 24 times in their history, including five Final Four appearances. The Cavs have won the ACC Field Hockey Tournament once as well, in 2016.
The Cavaliers play their home games at Turf Field, which despite the uninspired name is one of the nicest field hockey venues in the country. It has hosted the ACC Tournament six times, most recently in 2009. It also played host to an exhibition match between the Olympic teams of the United States and Argentina in June 2012, as both Turf Field and the Olympic field hockey venue in London have the same unusual blue-colored turf.
Virginia’s field hockey team, like all its teams, is officially known as the Cavaliers but unofficially known as the Wahoos, or Hoos for short, in reference to an unofficial nickname for all University students and alumni.
Food & Beverage 2
Turf Field sells concessions out of a trailer in between the entrance and bleachers. While there isn’t much here, consider that most college field hockey venues in the country don’t offer any concessions. Pretty much the only thing here that can be a meal is hot dogs for $4, while other options to eat include hot pretzels for $5 and candy and chips for $3. To drink, fans can find Pepsi soda products and Gatorade for $5 and bottled water for $3. Credit cards are accepted with the exception of Discover, although when we went they were having technical difficulties accepting American Express as well. Be prepared or bring cash.
Once you walk into Turf Field, the first thing you will notice is the unique blue turf, similar to that at the Boise State football stadium. From the entrance, you will walk past the restrooms and concessions up to a large set of bleachers to watch the game. The seats in the middle sections are in the shade during day games thanks to the press box, while the seats further towards the sides are not. We recommend picking an appropriate section based on the weather for that day. Some fans seem to like to sit right on the edge of the sun and shade sections so they can move around when they get too hot or cold. On fall days when the weather in this part of the country can vary by the minute, this seems like a wise move.
Turf Field also has a large scoreboard in the far left corner as seen from the bleachers, which also shows the shots, saves, and penalty corners for each team. Theoretically it also shows what half the game is in, but it remained stuck showing the first half for the entire game when we visited. Additionally, as college field hockey switched to quarters a few years ago, this is not the most helpful even when it works. Unfortunately, the way it is designed, there is no way to change it to account for quarters without completely replacing the scoreboard.
Turf Field is located on the campus of the University of Virginia, which is one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. Once you get off campus and into the city of Charlottesville, there is plenty else to do. Boylan Heights is a popular bar just off campus and serves up good food as well. It is just one of many places to eat, drink, or have fun along University Avenue ranging from bagel bakeries to bars to sushi restaurants. History buffs may also want to check out Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson.
Although field hockey is and will always remain a minor sport on college campuses compared to things like basketball and football, the sport does draw a good crowd here compared to most places. While the 400-500 fans a game the Cavaliers draw may not seem like much, it consistently ranks them towards the top of the nation. Many fans are friends and family of the players, but you also get some UVA students and locals. Many of the children in attendance play youth field hockey themselves and dream of making the NCAA someday, but there are also longtime fans of the program and of UVA athletics in general. The fans are passionate and it can get quite loud in here after big plays by the Hoos.
If coming to Charlottesville from the east or west, you will likely take Interstate 64. If coming from the north or south, you will take U.S. Route 29. Although both are major roads, Route 29 has a few traffic lights along the way, so you won’t make as good time as you would on the highway. Still, you should be able to make reasonably good time if you head that way – the lights are for the most part few and far between.
Once you get on campus, finding the stadium can be hard. There are no signs and it isn’t prominently visible from any street. Some GPS apps are better than others at getting you to the right place – Waze instructed us to drive onto a sidewalk to access the stadium and we had to switch to Google Maps, which took us to the appropriate lot, UHALL West.
However, once you are in UHALL West, it is still not entirely clear where to go as there are no signs. If you arrive early, you may see the sprinklers watering the field (no, the turf doesn’t grow, but this is needed to make the ball roll properly) and you can also look for the stadium lights in the distance. There is a path from the back right corner of the lot near the athletics training trailers that will take you right up to the stadium and there will be many helpful staff on hand to direct you where to go if you still can’t find the right way.
Return on Investment 5
Admission to all field hockey games at Turf Field is free, with the possible exception of ACC and NCAA Tournament games. Parking is free and concessions are affordable if limited. Considering this is one of the top field hockey stadiums and top field hockey teams in the country, this is a very good value.
The unique blue color of the playing surface is an extra in its own right. Free game programs are available on a table at the front gate. A third and final star for all the extremely helpful and polite staff we encountered here.
When you think of athletics at the University of Virginia, the first team that comes to mind is the basketball program that won the national championship in 2019. The second program may be the football team which has had some recent success as well, or perhaps the baseball team, which has made the College World Series five times since 2009. However, there is another highly successful program at UVA who plays in an elite stadium, and that is the field hockey team. The Hoos have one of the nicest field hockey stadiums in the country, not to mention one of the best fan bases. Turf Field may have an extremely boring name, but let this be a lesson in why not to judge a book by its cover. This is one of the best field hockey experiences in the country and is anything but boring.