Cougar Stadium – Chicago State Cougars
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Located on the south side of Chicago near the Indiana border sits Chicago State University, a public university. Chicago State may get a bad reputation because it is located on the south side of Chicago however it is home to some impressive looking athletic facilities.
Chicago State competes in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) as the easternmost school in a conference that for the most part occupies the southwest and west coast of the country.
There is no doubt that the Athletic Department at CSU is trying to position themselves for bigger and better things.The new ballpark cost $2.5 million to construct. The opening of Cougar Stadium marked the return of the baseball team to campus for the first time since 2004.
Food & Beverage 0
There are no concession stands located near the field. Signs indicate that restroom and concession facilities are available inside the nearby Jones Convocation Center. However, upon entering, the restrooms were open but all of the concession stands were closed. It is unclear if the concession stands are usually open but it would be a safe bet to bring your own beverage and food with you.
There is only a small section of green metal bleachers located directly behind home plate with a modest press box located above the bleachers. Approximately 145 fans could fit on the bleachers comfortably, but there is space for fans to line the fence between the bleachers and the dugouts with folding chairs. There is also a big grass berm beyond the right field fence that provides a good view of the action as well.
The playing surface is field turf which includes the infield and home plate area which use brown turf. The pitcher’s mound however remains dirt. The turf is a necessity of the climate in Chicago providing drainage and allowing games to be played in cold weather as grass growth is not a concern. The field is also equipped with lights and it is normal for Chicago State to play night games during the week and on Friday night when opening a weekend series.
The fact that the school is located on the south side of Chicago gets an instant bad reputation, however these reputations aren’t always warranted. The school is secure as accessing campus requires entering through a security gate, and the immediate neighborhood surrounding the school is residential homes with easy access to the interstate.
As for restaurants in the area there are a variety of places such as Firehouse Steak & Lemonade, Subway, Gianna’s Pizza, Slugo’s Tacos, and Big Mike’s Gyros. One other well known eatery is Jim’s Original which serves “Maxwell Street Polish” sausages.
Located near campus is also a Walgreens which normally wouldn’t factor into this section but without the guarantee of concessions being opened at the ballpark this Walgreens is the closest place to grab snacks and beverages to take to the game with you.
Fan support is very evident. There is a vocal contingent of fans who are into every play of the game. The presence of fans for visiting schools is common when attending games in Chicago as it is usually a destination trip for fans and family of the athletes. The fans are knowledgeable and into the game. During my most recent visit many were having conversations about what type of play was needed on the field to get out a jam with base runners.
The campus is easily accessible from King Drive. While there is no charge for admission to the baseball game there is a $5 charge to park and get on campus. Be prepared for this charge and bring cash as that is the only form of payment accepted.
Return on Investment 3
The return on investment is largely contingent on how many people attend the game with you. There is no charge to attend the game and the $5 fee to park is the only cost associated with attending a Chicago State baseball game. As a result regardless if you attend a game by yourself or take a van full of kids you will pay the same price. Once on campus the experience is good. The playing surface is in great shape with the turf providing for good playing conditions regardless of the weather. If you come prepared with your own food and drinks, this is a good experience watching Division I baseball.
Chicago State is home to two good athletic venues. While small, the baseball field is in great condition and provides many options for sight lines. Jones Convocation Center located next to the baseball field is a good basketball venue also.
While maybe not a destination on its own, attending a Chicago State baseball game while in town for other reasons or to attend other sporting events is a good experience that won’t cost you much money regardless of the size of your party.
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