Jackie Robinson Stadium – UCLA Bruins
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Home to Jackie Robinson and the Sons of Westwood
Jackie Robinson is a name known throughout baseball, but before becoming famous with the Dodgers, he was a four sport letter recipient at UCLA. Being the first to achieve this feat, it’s only appropriate that a UCLA facility be named for him.
The baseball stadium opened in 1981 thanks to a private gift from Hoyt Pardee, a former classmate of Jackie Robinson. The new stadium would be UCLA’s sixth home field in its history and the famous Jackie Robinson statue was dedicated in 1985.
The stadium is set on the grounds of the Veterans Health Administration. After some controversy, UCLA recently signed a $300,000 lease with the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs to continue use of the stadium for many years to come, along with other provisions.
Food & Beverage 3
Upon entering, most fans ascending the steps will be treated to the smell of hot dogs and onions being grilled just in front of the snack stand on the first base side.
The menu is on par for a college baseball venue. A permanent concession stand on the first base concourse serves up hot links and cheeseburgers ($6), hamburgers ($5), hot dogs and veggie burgers ($4), pretzels and nachos ($3 – add .25 for a cheese cup), chips, peanuts and Cup o’ Noodles ($2), assorted candy, cookies and cracker jacks ($1).
Other snacking and dining options are available on the third base concourse. A bag of freshly popped popcorn ($2) as well as Turkey and Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches are available from Jersey Mike’s ($9).
Coke product beverages are available for $3 while bottled water, coffee, hot chocolate and hot tea are $2.
Despite being a stone’s throw from a major freeway and minutes from a large downtown area, the trees that surround the stadium provide a surprisingly suburban feel.
Immediately upon climbing the steps to the main concourse, fans are treated to a table that will enhance their experience. There is a frequent fan card (offering a raffle ticket for each game attended during the season), scorecard, baseball bingo card, and opportunities to win free gifts. The baseball bingo card certainly does keep the crowd involved as fans mark off the appropriate boxes based on what the batters of the home team do when the ball is in play.
The Bruins recent run of success, including their first ever National Championship in 2013 has certainly increased interest in the baseball program as is certainly noticed in the stands.
The surrounding area around Jackie Robinson Stadium really does not offer much in regards to dining and entertainment due to the fact that the stadium sits on the grounds of the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs. In spite of the fact the stadium is only a few minutes from campus, driving towards Westwood Village can still be a pain. If attending a weeknight game, you will definitely want to plan ahead as traffic within the surrounding areas can be, to put it kindly, brutal. I wish I could tell you otherwise, but unfortunately, there is no way around it.
Should you opt to head toward the Village after the game, one way to expedite your journey would be to make a left on Sepulveda after exiting the lot and head north two lights toward Montana Ave. Make a right, head east through a residential neighborhood. As the street curves south it will change into Gayley Ave leading you directly into the Village. While I cannot guarantee that this will entirely alleviate your navigational nightmares through our notorious L.A. traffic, this is still your best option, particularly if it’s a weekend game as you will by all means want to avoid driving along Wilshire Blvd, one of L.A.’s major thoroughfares.
For your dining, entertainment, and parking options just click on the link provided above. A good majority of the dining and entertainment options are open late.
Bruin fans are easily some of the best when it comes to wearing their team colors. Though not as rabid as those at Pauley Pavilion, the crowd is at near capacity. The fans are a very diverse breed, ranging from a mix of older folks all the way to the little league groups.
The stadium is located just minutes off of the 405 freeway and can be accessed on foot from the UCLA campus. However, I can never stress enough the importance of early planning when dealing with the area traffic, so do plan accordingly.
Once inside the stadium, fans will find bucket seating circling between the first and third base dugouts. Should the comfortable bucket seating overflow, there is also a set of bleachers above the concourse between third base and home plate that looks as if it has survived a nuclear war.
Parking is listed on the UCLA website as $10, yet it was $8 when I arrived at the lot. I would assume the price varies depending on the magnitude of the game.
There is only a single restroom area on site and the men’s room has only three stations. This can pose a problem during high attendance games as the line can back up. With increased interest in the baseball program and more fans attending as opposed to years past, perhaps it would help to alleviate backups if a few mobile unisex bathrooms could be added.
Return on Investment 4
The ticket prices are very reasonable, with adult ticket prices at $12 for seats behind home plate, $8 for adult general admission and $5 for youth general admission. The price of parking, at $10, is more than a general admission ticket. However, with few other options, the lot is your best bet.
Easily the foremost attraction at the ballpark is the statue of Jackie Robinson along the first base line. The plaque below reads, “The Name. The Legend. The Man.” Alongside the statue is a recently added mural by artist Mike Sullivan depicting Jackie in his UCLA uniform, with references to his playing days as well as his time in the Army. Jackie was the first four letter athlete in UCLA history (football, basketball, baseball and track), and his presence is certainly felt throughout the stadium.
All around the concourse, fans can view banners that show recent major league players that formerly appeared in a Bruins uniform. Some of the players that appear on these banners include Hector Embriz, Garrett Atkins, Todd Zeile, Eric Byrnes, Chase Utley, Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole, Dave Roberts, Troy Glaus, and Eric Karros.
Just next to the ticket office, there is a large ProGrass logo with a patch of the synthetic grass. For fans that have never had a chance to walk on or feel FieldTurf, this presents a good opportunity.
It’s funny that Jackie Robinson is largely credited with breaking the color barrier, yet he was not even the first black player on the UCLA baseball team. The man credited with being the first was Kenny Washington, and he would eventually have his number 13 retired. Today, fans can spot his number 13 in left field, honoring the man they called “Kingfish.”
Lastly of note is the Jack and Rhodine Gifford hitting facility. Located beyond the right field fence, this area allows fans a peek at the practice facilities and a free view through the fence at the action on the field.
A recent run of success, a national championship, along with some notable enhancements throughout the stadium, including a new state of the art scoreboard with an analog clock reminiscent of old-time yards has added to the game day experience to a stadium that not long ago, was in need of some upgrades.
With a recent national title added to the school’s vast trophy case, the interest in UCLA baseball is certainly evident. A visit to Steele Field at Jackie Robinson Stadium should definitely be on any baseball fan’s travel list. Also a must, especially if you are a true fan of historical significance, is the chance to snap some photos of you next to the Jackie Robinson displays along the first base concourse. Aside from showing them off on your social media site, these photos will make for great stories about a true icon that any baseball fan should share and pass down to other future baseball fans.
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