Bennett Field – Adelaide Bite
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Shark Squad Bites in Adelaide
The Adelaide Bite were formed as a part of the relaunched Australian Baseball League in 2010. Like the other founding clubs (Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney), the Bite were centrally owned until the 2018/19 season when a private ownership model was adopted across the league. In somewhat of a coup for baseball in South Australia, the Bite were bought by the Adelaide Crows AFL club.
The “Bite” moniker is a double entendre, of course in reference to the Great Australian Bight, which describes the curved shape of the southern coastline of central Australia, at which point the Nullarbor Plain drops into the Southern Ocean, and also in reference to sharks for which the waters off South Australia are a popular habitat.
For much of the past 70 years, South Australian baseball has been based at Norwood Oval, a facility operated by the local Australian Rules football club – the Bite played their home games at Norwood Oval until making the move to the newly renovated Diamond Sports Complex at West Beach in 2016. The current capacity at Bennett Field is 5,000. While the Bite made successive Championship Series in 2015/16 and 2016/17, they have struggled since.
Food & Beverage 3
While only the staple food items are available at Bennett Field, they are done surprisingly well. Hungry fans can choose from several variations of hot dogs, burgers, and hot chips, along with chicken nuggets, fish and chips, meat pies, sausage rolls, and toasted sandwiches. On my most recent visit we sampled a hot dog and a burger, with both deserving of praise.
You can find the Diamond Field Café at the rear of the main grandstand, where the service is friendly and relatively quick. No item is priced greater than $10, making eating at the park an affordable option for all fans. Similarly, cold drinks (non-alcoholic) here are between $2-$5. Alcohol can be bought from the bar, with a selection of beers available for between $6-$8.
The facilities at Bennett Field are simple but adequate. A $4m state government grant financed improvements to the stadium to bring it up to ABL standards, with the facility now the home of baseball and softball in South Australia. “Diamond Sports,” a joint collective of the state bodies for baseball and softball, own and operate the complex, which also includes offices and an indoor training centre.
There is a small covered brick grandstand behind home plate which constitutes the reserved seating area. The small bleacher sections on both baselines are general admission. Being close to the ocean, the locals tell us a constant sea breeze keeps the local temperature cool, so bring a jacket for night games.
A large group of local juniors occupied the bleachers on the first baseline at a game we recently attended, which added to the atmosphere. The juniors formed a human tunnel through which the home team was introduced prior to the game, which was a nice touch.
There is a shark mascot known as Chomper, but otherwise there are minimal crowd engagement activities at Bennett Field. There are occasional interludes on the PA, but they are sometimes difficult to hear.
Adelaide is a cosmopolitan city characterised by its grid-like set up featuring straight wide streets and abundant parklands. In contrast to most other capital cities around the country, it was established as a colony of free settlers rather than a penal settlement.
As is the case with all the ballparks in the ABL, Bennett Field is located in the suburbs. The stadium is actually relatively close to the city, located in West Beach out by the airport, about a 20-minute drive from the Adelaide CBD. While the immediate neighborhood does not offer an abundance of nightlife or activities, you are close enough to central Adelaide to be able to take advantage of all that the City of Churches has to offer.
Once there, the northern area of the CBD (adjacent to the River Torrens), is the heart of the cultural, entertainment, and shopping precincts. Check out the nightlife on Hindley Street or peruse the shops in Rundle Mall. Along North Terrace you’ll find the Art Gallery of South Australia, the State Library, numerous memorials, and the Migration Museum. Most of these attractions have free entry and are definitely worth exploring. The Adelaide Casino is also on North Terrace, and is noteworthy not for its opportunity for gambling, but for its location within the historic Railway Station building.
The closet venues near Bennett Field for pre or post game food and drinks include Adelaide Sailing Club (9 Baracoo Rd, West Beach), Henley Beach Hotel (at the corner of The Esplanade and Seaview Rd, Henley Beach), and the historic Ramsgate Hotel (328 Seaview Rd, Henley Beach). There are plenty of accommodation options nearby as well, including the West Beach Parks (Military Rd, West Beach); an affordable family option comprising a mix of cabins, tent sites, and caravans. If you’re looking for something more, then try nearby Glenelg or the Adelaide CBD.
Bennett Field is also only a ten-minute drive from the beach side tourist hub of Glenelg, and of course Adelaide is also in close proximity to the world-famous wine growing region, the Barossa Valley. If you are in town for a few days, both areas should be on your to-do list.
Be sure to check the schedules for the other summer sports for any double header opportunities – the Adelaide Strikers (cricket: BBL and WBBL), Adelaide 36ers (basketball: NBL), Adelaide Lightening (WNBL), and Adelaide United (soccer: A-League and W-League) are all near Bennett Field.
Adelaide drew well in the early years of the new ABL, and retained solid attendances through the successes of 2014/15 and 2015/16, but have significantly dropped over recent seasons. However, this is not a phenomenon unique to the Bite, as the league has struggled to deal with the removal of MLB funding. Fresh injections of capital from private ownership will hopefully arrest the slide and rebuild the fan base. In the meantime crowds are small (less than 1,000 at a typical game), but fans are knowledgeable and welcoming.
The easiest way to get to West Beach is by car. If you haven’t got your own or a rental, consider a ride-share service (about $20 from the CBD). While you can use public transport, it requires some pre-planning. There are several bus routes that connect the city to West Beach, but it is a 40-minute journey. Alternatively, you can catch the tram to Glenelg and a bus from there, but again, it’s a fairly long journey.
There’s plenty of parking available adjacent to Bennett Field, with the entrance to the venue literally right in front of you. If you haven’t pre-bought a ticket online you can do so at the gate, with a hassle-free experience to purchase and then enter the stadium.
Return on Investment 3
The Adelaide Bite game day experience at Bennett Field is very affordable. Adult tickets are just $15 for general admission and $20 for reserved seating in the grandstand behind home plate; they also have a discount where a family of four can gain general admission entry for $32. Alternatively, you may want to up the ante and shell out for a more unique group experience offered in the “Shark Tank” or dugout box. With free parking and very affordable concessions, Bennett Field is a great option for a family night out.
There is a small merchandise van on site, and also a free team list offered to fans upon entry.
We’ve long considered Adelaide to be an underrated destination; it’s a relaxed and fun city with something to offer for everyone. If you’re planning a visit, then consider adding a family friendly visit to a Bite game at Bennett Field, and if you’re a local, then definitely give it a go.
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BIG4 West Beach Parks
1 Military Rd
West Beach SA 5024
(08) 8355 7320
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