Bob Turtle Smith Stadium – Maryland Terrapins
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The University of Maryland Terrapins (or the Terps) are known for a lot of things, but college baseball usually isn’t the first on the list. A predominantly basketball school and home to some crazy college football uniforms, Maryland has of late been home to a winning baseball program. After a 43-year absence, Maryland advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2014 and even made it as far as the Super Regionals. A second appearance in 2015 signaled that this program has the potential to have some degree of staying power.
Shipley Field at Bob “Turtle” Smith Stadium has been home to Terps baseball since 1952, receiving the additional Shipley Field moniker in 1956 for longtime basketball coach Burton Shipley. Squarely in the middle of campus, the stadium has seen plenty of ups and downs for the Terps over its 60-plus years without much overall success. But success may be on the horizon.
Food & Beverage 2
Food options at Bob Smith Stadium are pretty bare bones, if not lacking.
The only real option that could count as a main course would be a hot dog ($3), unless you count pretzels ($3). The rest of the menu consists of snack items at $3 or $3.25, and is limited to popcorn, Cracker Jack, sunflower seeds and peanuts.
Pepsi products are also served here for $3, as well as coffee ($2.75), hot chocolate ($3.25), Gatorade ($3.50) and bottled water ($3). There is no alcohol served here.
No one has ever complained about hot dogs at a baseball game, and that’s good, because that’s basically all you have on the menu.
Shipley Field at Bob “Turtle” Stadium may not be spectacular, but it’s definitely got its unique traits.
The stadium itself is sunken into a hillside behind the football stadium in the center of campus. It would be easy to miss it if you were to drive right by it. When you walk down the short flight of stairs and through the main gate, you’ll be greeted by a welcoming view of a pillar-lined grandstand overlooking the field and Byrd Stadium in the background over the left field wall. While the pillars are the first unique characteristic you’ll notice, the field is easily the second. The Sportexe Synthetic Turf will probably garner mixed reviews among fans, depending on your take on artificial fields. Perhaps the coolest characteristic of the stadium doesn’t even reside in the stadium. Byrd Stadium stands tall over the left field wall and dominates what would be an otherwise unimposing skyline.
Otherwise, the ballpark dimensions are pretty standard. Bleachers run from first base around to third base. The outfield wall honors the few NCAA Tournament appearances the Terps have made, and a standard scoreboard rises over the left-center field wall.
Game time entertainment is fairly run-of-the-mill. A PA announcer calls out players, and walk-up music blares through the speakers. Occasionally, there is entertainment between innings. It falls right in line with what you’d expect in college baseball.
Seating options are all generally the same. The best view over the wall is from the first base side of the field. Just don’t sit directly behind the dugouts, because the Under Armour-branded roofs curve up and can actually block the view of the field.
Being a major university in a big city, you’d expect a lot to do in the immediate vicinity. There are a decent amount to be had, but it seems as though the students rely more on the nearby Washington, DC area for their best attractions.
With DC being a short Metro ride away, you can hypothetically find anything you want here. But we’ll stick to what’s near campus. Most of your best options are east of campus along Baltimore Avenue. Probably the most popular local bar/restaurant is Looney’s Pub, where you can find a wide array of bar food and plenty of sports on TV. Also on Baltimore Avenue, you can check out Cornerstone Grill & Loft for some more college atmosphere and some excellent sweet potato fries. If the local college scene doesn’t suit you, you’re in luck. You’re in the greater Washington area, so there are more options than you’ll ever be able to visit.
If you are looking for things to see and do, Washington has more than enough to suit you. For the sake of giving some options, we’ll stick to the immediate College Park area. The College Park Aviation Museum is just a short drive away and has an excellent collection of planes, helicopters and the like. If you’re a movie buff, Greenbelt Theater is just across 495. This classic style movie theater has a 40-foot screen and regularly plays classic movies.
There are plenty of hotels to be found along Baltimore Ave, but the closest to the stadium is on the west side of campus. The College Park Marriott is just a short drive or even a walk through campus from the field, so if you’re in town just for the game, this eliminates any parking challenges.
Terps fans are much more passionate about their basketball and football teams than about their baseball team. While not terrible, this is far from a wild atmosphere.
With a low-capacity stadium and lukewarm fan support, Bob Smith Stadium isn’t going to be in the upper echelon of any attendance lists anytime soon. Being right in the heart of campus helps them pull in some students, but not as many as you might think. Attendance here is average for college baseball in every way.
Average in every way also describes fan engagement. Aside from the odd student heckling a batter or supporter cheering the Terps on, it’s largely a casual crowd just taking in the sights. There truly isn’t anything here to write home about.
Shipley Field at Bob Smith Stadium is easy to get around, but not necessarily easy to get to. But is anything in the DC area easy to get to?
The good news is there is a College Park stop on the Washington Metro that has a shuttle onto campus. So if you’re coming from DC, that will save you some effort. If you’re driving, it’s just inside the 495 Beltway around Washington. If you happen to be unfamiliar with the Beltway, just leave early. It’s one of the busiest loops in the country, and if you hit it at the wrong time, it can turn into a parking lot. Once you get off in College Park, there are just a few lights and turns to deal with to get on campus.
There’s no designated lot for the stadium, but there are a few parking garages within a couple of blocks. These garages are all hourly, so the cost depends on how long you plan on staying. There’s only one gate into the stadium behind home plate. They take debit cards at the lone ticketing window. It’s quick and painless, and empties you directly behind home plate.
The stadium is simple to move around, as there’s only a narrow concourse extending from first base to third base with bleacher seating below. You can also see the entire field from the small concourse, so if you feel like standing or moving around, it’s an easy view. Restrooms are behind home plate and are pretty bare bones, but work just fine.
Return on Investment 3
In an area with so much to do, this is probably pretty low on most people’s lists of sites to visit. But while it may not be anything special, it makes for a cheap and relaxing pit stop.
With tickets running from $5 to $8 (depending on the game) and food almost exclusively in the $3 range, nothing is pricey. Parking shouldn’t cost you more than $5 – $10 either. Despite there being nothing special here, it’s still a low cost stop with an opportunity to see a major college campus.
There are three obvious extras worth rating here. The pillared bleacher section is probably the most unique hallmark of the stadium, and the only thing that adds any character to the structure itself. The unique artificial turf field stands out as an eye-catcher, if nothing else. And the view of Byrd Stadium gives an otherwise dull park an interesting setting. These three things are essentially what give this basic ballpark its character.
Unless you’re a passionate baseball fan, you’re likely to completely overlook this as an option in the eventful and jam-packed DC area. And you’d probably be right to. While not a bad experience, by any means, there’s just not much to draw you away from the myriad of options that exist just a short drive south.
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