Photos by Paul Baker, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.29
University of Albany
Albany, NY 12206
Year Opened: 1971
The Home of Great Dane Baseball
The University of Albany fielded their first baseball team in 1958. It spent the first few decades of competition in Division III before transitioning to Division I along with the rest of UAlbany’s sports in the 1990s. The Great Danes played their first game in the sport’s top division in 2000. Currently, Albany plays in the America East Conference. The Great Danes have qualified for one NCAA Tournament, in 2007.
Food & Beverage 0
There is no food available for purchase at Varsity Field. Fans are welcome to bring their own food in to enjoy during the game.
At a simple facility like Varsity Field you wouldn’t expect an elaborate game day presentation and you won’t get one at a Great Dane baseball game. The UAlbany staff do their best with their limited resources. A simple scoreboard in right field displays basic game information. Music plays over the PA system between innings and batters. The PA announcer may be a bit over the top but provides all the necessary information for fans. Free roster sheets are available for all fans.
The beauty of going to a game at a facility like Varsity Field is the ability to hear the chatter on the infield and coaches barking instructions to their players. It’s a baseball purist’s dream.
The University of Albany is located in northwest Albany, out near the airport. Downtown Albany and the state capital are located about a 15-minute drive away. The area around campus, particularly along Route 20 (Western Ave.), features a great many dining options in the vicinity of the University. A complete listing of dining options can be found here. You’ll find many options for lodging on the north side of campus near Interstate 90 you can find a listing of all local hotels here.
The crowd at a Great Danes baseball game can accurately be described as a “friends and family” type of gathering. Most of the fans in attendance have a personal connection to the players down on the field, and as a result are both knowledgeable about the team and enthusiastic in their support. You don’t see many casual fans in a place like Varsity Field. With the compact geographic footprint of the America East Conference, it’s not unusual to see a good turnout in support of the visiting team.
Stadium Journey visited Varsity Field on a beautiful mid-April Saturday afternoon. The crowd in attendance numbered about 200 people. This seems to be a bit on the large side for a Danes game, but entirely representative. Remember that the college baseball season stretches from March-May, when the weather in the northeast can be inconsistent. Expect more people to be in attendance later in the season as the weather improves.
The University of Albany is located in northwestern Albany, right by the intersection of Interstates 90 and 87. The downtown area is about a 15-minute ride from campus. The Albany airport is just a 10-minute ride to the north. Varsity Field is situated on the southern edge of the sprawling campus, near the school’s other athletic facilities. Entering campus via Route 20 (Western Ave.) gives visitors the easiest access to Varsity Field.
There is no parking immediately adjacent to Varsity Field. Visiting fans can park by Casey Stadium or across the street behind the Management Services Center building. Both areas are a bit of a walk to the ball field. Parking is free of charge for Great Dane baseball games.
Seating at Varsity Field consists of four sets of metal bleachers, one large set behind home plate and several smaller ones scattered around the field. All bleacher seats feature obstructed views through chain-link fences. Even worse, metal bars that are part of the backstop further obstruct views from the main bleachers. For the best views here, fans take to the top of a large berm that runs along the third base side of the field. Fans bring their own lawn chairs and coolers and enjoy unobstructed views of the action. A walking path and Indian Pond pass directly behind this berm.
There are no permanent restrooms at Varsity Field. There are a few port-a-johns available for use should the need arise. Be advised that there are no paved pathways in sections of the ball field. Fans with mobility issues should tread carefully around the facility.
Return on Investment 5
There is no charge for admission to a Great Danes baseball game. Parking in the lot across the street from the field is also free. With no concessions on site, visitors to Varsity Field will not spend a single cent while here.
There isn’t much going on at Varsity Field that can be considered extra. We’ll award an extra point for the field’s setting adjacent to Indian Pond with a nice walking path that runs behind the third base side of the field. It’s always fun to watch the occasional foul ball splash into the water. The ducks and geese that live here don’t seem to mind the intrusion.
Varsity Field is typical of many college ballparks in the northeast. It’s a simple facility with only the most basic of amenities. While this will only be a destination ballpark for the most ardent of ballpark chasers, it is not without its charms. If you enjoy a simple game day experience, parks like Varsity Field are for you.