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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Wheeler-Watkins Baseball Complex - Alabama State Hornets

Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00

Wheeler-Watkins Baseball Complex 915 South Jackson St Montgomery, AL 36104

Year Opened: 2011 Capacity: 600


The Hornet's Nest

Alabama State University was founded in 1867. The school is one of the first Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in the country. It is located in Montgomery, Alabama, and has 5,500 students The main academic programs of the university are Education, Health Sciences and Arts and Sciences, Mathematics & Technology, and Aerospace Science.

The athletic teams at Alabama State are known as the Hornets, and they play in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC). In addition to their SWAC schedule, the Hornets play schools including Yale, during the baseball season. The home of Hornets baseball is the on-campus Wheeler-Watkins Baseball Complex. The facility is named for two longtime coaches for the baseball program, Herbert Wheeler and Larry Watkins. The two led the baseball programs at ASU for more than a 50-year period. They led the school to two SWAC regular season championships and two SWAC tournament championships, along with two appearances in the NCAA baseball playoffs. The facility opened in 2011, bringing baseball back on campus for the first time in 20 years. The stadium holds 600 people.

Food & Beverage 2

There is one concession stand serving the baseball complex. It offers a very basic menu of baseball standards, including Pepsi sodas ($3), water ($2.50), hot dogs ($3), and candy ($2). It is located on the back side of the grandstand. There are numerous drive-through restaurants and convenience stores within a block of the baseball park, and you might want to head to one of them before or after a Hornets game for a full meal.

Atmosphere 4

Wheeler-Watkins Stadium is located on the southeastern corner of the ASU campus. The site is a great place to enjoy a baseball game on a lovely spring afternoon. The stadium features a field with dimensions of 330LF, 400CF, and 330RF. The complex features the black and gold colors worn by ASU athletic team, and the dugouts, outfield fences, and scoreboards feature the logo and name of the team very dramatically. Each dugout features a photo of one of the two namesakes of the complex on their walls, along with information on their careers.

The stadium seating is all seatbacks featuring the gold colors of the school. The seats are directly behind home plate, providing an excellent view of the action on the field. Many fans also bring along their lawn chairs and set them up along the fences between first and third bases and home plate.

Wheeler-Watkins Stadium Scoreboard, Photo by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Neighborhood 4

The Wheeler-Watkins Baseball complex is in downtown Montgomery, just south of I-85. Montgomery is the state capital of Alabama, and as such, there are numerous museums and government buildings to visit while in the city. The city also has also played a major role in the Civil Rights movement of the city. Alabama State University is home to the National Center for the Study of Civil Rights and African Americans. The National Center is located right next door to the ballpark. Just look for the mural depicting the various important dates in Civil Rights history. Other museums in the city that feature a Civil Rights theme are the Rosa Parks Museum, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the Freedom Rides Museum, and the Dexter Parsonage, where Martin Luther King, Jr was the pastor before leading the Civil Rights movement.

Restaurants in the area surrounding ASU include Central (featuring a farm-to-table experience), Martha Place (southern comfort food), and the legendary Dreamland BBQ. Beer enthusiasts will want to check out the craft beers at Railyard Brewery.

Once minor league baseball season gets underway in April you can get double the baseball action by attending a Montgomery Biscuits game in the evening at Riverwalk Stadium.

Fans 3

The fans at Hornets games are very knowledgeable about the players on the team, as Alabama State is a relatively small school. Typically, the highest attendance is the highest for SWAC conference contests. Many of the regulars have no official relationship with the school but come from the residential neighborhoods that ring the school campus. They are a very polite crowd, applauding nice plays no matter whether they are made by the home team or the visitors. They also stay until the last out, even if the game is a blowout.

Surprisingly we did not see many students in attendance at the ballgames. This may be because many ASU students are commuter students, and they either go to work, or their homes after classes end.

Access 4

Getting to an ASU Hornets game is very easy, as the Wheeler-Watkins Baseball Complex is located just off I-85 as you enter the downtown area of Montgomery. It is easy to identify, as the ASU football stadium practically looms over the freeway.

Directions from I-85: Take I-85 to the Mulberry Street exit (Exit 2). Turn left on Mulberry Street. Turn right on West 5th Street. Turn left a Pine Leaf Street. Turn right at Carter Hill Road. Turn right on Grand Street, then right on Jackson Street. The baseball complex will be on your right.

Gates at the Wheeler-Watkins Baseball, Complex open one hour before the first pitch.

Return on Investment 3

An afternoon at a Hornet’s game will not break the bank. Tickets for Hornets games are $8. Parking is free at the lot next to the stadium along the third baseline side of the field. The concession stand prices are very reasonable. Hotels in the downtown areas of Montgomery are around $100 per night.

Extras 1

There is a small, elevated seating area just to the left of the right field foul pole called the Hornet’s Nest. It offers a different perspective of the game's action.

Final Thoughts

The Wheeler-Watkins Baseball Complex offers a very inexpensive sports experience for baseball fans in the Montgomery area. The ballpark offers an easy location to get to, as it is just off I-85. The Montgomery area offers a wealth of places to see and visit before and after the game. This includes several state museums, as well as several sites related to the Civil Rights movement.

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