Fred Stillwell Stadium – Kennesaw State Owls
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The Owls at Stillwell
Kennesaw State is a baseball program that is easily overlooked in the growing world of college baseball popularity. But the Owls have achieved significant success at every level of college baseball they’ve been to, including National Championships at the NAIA and NCAA Division II levels. 32 former Owls have been drafted by major league baseball in their history, a testament to the program’s success. Since rising to Division I in 2006, the Owls have seen spots of success at the highest level. In 2014, the Owls went 40-24 and advanced all the way to the NCAA Super Regionals, an impressive feat for a program at the highest level for less than a decade.
Stillwell Stadium was built in 1984 near the entrance to Kennesaw State University, just a short drive north of Atlanta. With a capacity of 1,200, it’s more comfortable than intimidating. Named for long time university supporter Fred Stillwell, the stadium blends nicely into campus and represents the essence of smaller-school college athletics.
Food & Beverage 2
Concession options at Stillwell can be defined as basic, at best, and served out of one concession stand near the entrance.
Nachos, hot dogs and corn dogs make up the entirety of the meal menu, with everything coming under $4. Candy, pretzels and chips are also available.
Coke products and bottled water are also available for $4.
While there’s never anything wrong with grabbing a hot dog at the game, this is a stadium where it might just be easier to eat in the area beforehand.
An Owls game at Stillwell Stadium may not blow you away with frills, but there are definitely some understated joys to be had here.
Although small with limited seating capacity, the stadium is built into the campus very nicely. Surrounded by student housing and part of a larger athletic complex, the venue fits nicely into its surroundings. The Owls’ signature yellow color is everywhere, lining the walls, facade and the athletic building beyond the left field fence. A brick facade and iron gate greet you when you enter, giving the park a bigger feel than what it actually is. Despite just bleacher seating between the bases and extending slightly further into right field, the nuances of the park give it a nicer feel than many other parks with just bleachers. An added bonus is the view of Kennesaw Mountain in the distance behind home plate.
There isn’t a whole lot to speak of in terms of promotion during the games, but for small-school baseball, this isn’t necessarily an awful thing. Especially when the collegiate atmosphere of the venue isn’t something that needs distraction.
There’s not a whole lot to choose from, but the seats behind home plate offer the most unobstructed views of the park. The smaller bleachers in left and right field both have the brick dugouts to contend with while trying to watch the game.
While not quite full of options like nearby downtown Atlanta, Kennesaw is a surprisingly nice area that blends some of the comforts of a college town feel with bustle of a major city suburb. This gives you just about the right mix of options to choose from in both the immediate area and the larger Atlanta vicinity.
While Atlanta itself will offer you seemingly unlimited options for food, that doesn’t mean you have to venture too far outside of Kennesaw to be satisfied. Within walking distance of the stadium, you can find chains like Mellow Mushroom, Wing Stop and several fast food establishments. In the larger area, some good options are Big Shanty Smokehouse for barbeque and Kuroshio Sushi Bar and Grill for Japanese items. If you’re into breweries, I’d strongly recommend stopping by Southern Sky Brewing Company. It may be small, but the beer is good and it’s run by some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. It’s more than worth the short drive.
The most obvious local attraction is Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. This park blends the history of the Civil War with hiking and outdoors activities and is well worth the visit. Another very local option is the Smith-Gilbert Gardens for those looking to spend their time in a more relaxing and scenic environment. But being in the greater Atlanta area, there are a variety of other entertainment options to be found.
There are a variety of suitable hotels within a decent walk and short drive from campus and the stadium. The SpringHill Suites Atlanta-Kennesaw is right across the street from the campus entrance and surrounded by restaurants. Baymont Inn, Comfort Inn and Residence Inn are all in the immediate area, as well.
One of the benefits of having a stadium so central in campus and campus housing is the excellent blend of both student and alumni fan bases that attend the game.
With a stadium that seats 1,200, average attendance as expected falls well shy of the 1,000 mark. But games still feel well attended for the size. Loyal locals and alumni arrive early and fill in the bleachers behind home plate, with a smattering moving to right and left field. Students trickle in and out during the game to cheer for their peers on the diamond. It may not be huge, but the fans are there.
These fans aren’t particularly more vocal than any others, but you can definitely pick up the familiarity with the players and the game from the crowd. You’ll have your usual umpire harassment over balls and strikes, but you’ll also have students and locals encouraging players by first name (always a good sign of fandom). While not particularly intimidating, the Owls have a small but loyal fan base.
Kennesaw itself is not the easiest place to get to in a city known for not being easy to get around in. But the stadium itself is very easily accessible across the board.
Kennesaw is located a short (or long, with traffic) drive northwest of Atlanta via I-75. Unfortunately, the airport in Atlanta is located south of the city. If you know anything about Atlanta, this means it could take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours to make the trip. Public transportation isn’t an option this far out from the city.
Once you battle the traffic, however, the local area is easy to navigate. Stillwell Stadium is located just off of Chastain Road at the main entrance to campus. There is ample parking across the street next to student housing, and it’s simple to get in and out.
There’s one main gate, with ticket sales occurring at a fold-up table. There seem to be no line issues, and the gate empties in behind home plate. It’s all pretty easy.
The stadium itself is small enough that it’s simple to move around. Just a caution on the bleachers, they have a center aisle and are fairly narrow, so if you’re looking to get up and move around during the game, try to grab an aisle seat and not against the railing. They do fill up, so getting in and out gets tricky. Restrooms are small, but meet the needs of the stadium.
Return on Investment 3
There’s a lot to like at Kennesaw State, and not a lot to complain about. Nothing here will blow you away, but it’s a solid college experience.
That being said, parking is free, tickets are $6 and food is $4 or less. That’s a pretty good value for a solid Division I baseball experience. As long as you don’t burn up gas money sitting in Atlanta traffic, it’s definitely worth a trip.
There are a few obvious character things here, but nothing truly special. The most obvious extra is Kennesaw Mountain in the background behind home plate. But the park’s blend into campus is worth calling out, too. Not everywhere gives you such a nice campus feel. There’s opportunity for more here, particularly with some of the baseball tradition the Owls have. It seems odd that those achievements aren’t more prominently highlighted around the park.
It’s a bit off the radar in a full Atlanta sports scene, but a game at Stillwell Stadium is nothing if not a truly relaxing college athletics experience on a lazy weekend day. Not everyone will make the drive out for a game, but if you’re up for it, there’s very little here that will disappoint.
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Food and Drink Recommendations
Big Shanty Smokehouse
3393 Cherokee St NW
Kennesaw, GA 30144
2382 Pine Mountain Rd
Kennesaw, GA 30152
SpringHill Suites Atlanta Kennesaw
3399 Town Point Rd
Kennesaw, GA 30144
Baymont Inn & Suites Kennesaw
3192 Barrett Lakes Blvd
Kennesaw, GA 30144
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