McLane Baseball Stadium at Kobs Field – Michigan State Spartans
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Spartan Baseball at McLane Baseball Stadium
The bronze statue, known as the Spartan, stands at the intersection of Kalamazoo Street, Chestnut Road and Red Cedar Road on the campus of Michigan State University. The iconic sculpture is probably more associated with the football team, but his glance is directed away from Spartan Stadium, and into right field of McLane Stadium.
The official name of the venue is McLane Stadium at Kobs Field. Drayton and Elizabeth McLane donated $4 million to allow the university to construct the current seating, and the stadium was ready for the 2009 season. The Spartans opened it up in style as pitcher Nolan Moody hurled a no-hitter in the opening game against Northwestern.
The Michigan State baseball team has some history of success, but they have not appeared in the College World Series since 1954. The program was able to win the Big Ten Championship in 2011. It was their first conference championship since 1979.
The retired numbers of former greats are displayed in right field including Kirk Gibson (#30), Steve Garvey (#10), Tom Yewcic (#5), Danny Litwhiler (#1), Hall-of-Famer Robin Roberts (#36), and the field’s namesake John Kobs (#25). John Kobs coached the baseball team from 1925-1963, and also served as head coach for basketball and hockey at different periods of his time in East Lansing. Other notable players to wear the green and white include John Smoltz, and Mark Mulder.
The combination of a new and comfortable stadium with historic and unique charm, on a beautiful college campus makes for an enjoyable afternoon of baseball.
Food & Beverage 2
There is one main concession stand with two windows that serves DeMartin Soccer Stadium, Secchia Stadium (softball), and McLane Stadium. In the spring, all of these teams could conceivably have a home game on the same day.
The menu is exactly what you would expect from attending a sporting event, although there is more selection than you may find at many college baseball venues in the Midwest. Hot dogs ($4.50), brats ($5), burgers ($6), chicken sandwiches ($6), and cheeseburgers ($7) are on offer. I tried the brat and cheeseburger, both of which were decent and perhaps slightly above average in quality. Other snacks available include fries ($4), popcorn ($4-$5), and nachos ($4.50).
Pepsi products are available ($4.50/$5), as is bottled water ($4), and hot beverages from Tim Horton’s. On a cold spring day, you’ll appreciate the coffee, and hot chocolate available ($3). If you’re owed 50 cents in change then you will likely be getting a half dollar coin, a quirk that is kind of cool.
Prices have increased by about $1 on each item since our last review back in 2012, making a trip out to the ballgame about 20% more expensive if you plan to get something to eat and/or drink. The quality does not make up for the price, and lines during a recent visit which coincided with the football team’s spring game moved incredibly slow.
The stadium is indeed located on the banks of the Red Cedar, in close proximity to the other Spartan athletic facilities including Spartan Stadium, Breslin Center, and Munn Ice Arena. Of historic note is also the nearby Jenison Fieldhouse, the former home of the basketball team, current home of the wrestling and volleyball teams.
Right field is unique at Kobs Field with a small hill that stretches from right center to the right field line, and helps to determine the length of the outfield fence, only 302 feet down the line. It’s an interesting quirk of the ballpark, and must be attractive to left handed pull hitters.
Immediately behind the plate there are 3-5 rows of green plastic seats with cup holders and adequate legroom. These stretch between the two dugouts and have a screen in front to protect the fans from foul balls. Beyond the dugouts there are some bleacher seats which are unobstructed by the net. The bleachers are a cold metal, not ideal for many games in March or April. There are 11 additional rows of bleachers that make up sort of a mini upper deck as you climb a flight of stairs to reach these seats. There is an interior walkway that separates the lower and upper seats, and the upper seats are elevated enough so that your view is not obstructed if someone is walking by, a nice design decision.
If you end up with a bleacher seat, then you may want to bring a stadium cushion to sit on during the game.
The announcer calls out, “Let’s play Spartan Baseball,” as the team readies to throw the first pitch, and the MSU fight song plays over the PA after each run scored by the Spartans. This is one of the few interactive touches that you’ll get as a spectator, as the presentation becomes pretty no frills from there, although you will see a couple of between-innings contests and some t-shirts chucked into the crowd.
Walking around the Michigan State campus is quite enjoyable, but it can be a bit of a hike to any restaurants or bars. You’ll likely be driving and not walking should you want to add a stop to your trip. That said, I am a big fan of the Harrison Roadhouse and their cheeseburgers and selection of local beers. This would be my suggestion if you want a bite to eat. Dublin Square is also a good spot with well executed Irish pub fare.
The ballpark seats 2,500 fans with 400 chair back seats and room for 2,100 on the metal bleachers. Like many college baseball teams in this part of the country, the crowd mostly consists of friends and family, although there are certainly alumni and baseball fans who decide to see a game, especially when the weather is nice. The crowd is courteous and intent on watching the game on the field.
There aren’t really any signs of where to park for a baseball game, and most of the parking lots are reserved for those with a pass. There is a parking garage on Harrison Rd, which is connected to the Kellogg Center (219 S Harrison Rd), which has reasonable rates in the spring. Parking for the game cost $3.
Another parking option would be to head to Spartan Stadium, which is also the visitor’s lot. There is a charge for parking depending on the length that you are there. Parking rates are 80 cents per half hour, so you can expect to pay somewhere between $4-$6.40 for most games.
Set your GPS for Spartan Stadium and you should find it just fine, and there will be very little traffic getting in or out of the game. The sports facilities can be found just a couple of miles from M127.
The concessions can be found closer to the third base side of the stadium, but you have to walk a bit, a minor inconvenience. Restrooms are found in the same building. Restrooms feature touchless technology and are clean with enough room to accommodate the usual crowds.
Return on Investment 3
Prices vary depending on the day of the week, age, and student status. During the week some selected games are offered with no admission charge. In 2016, the game that coincided with the football team’s Spring game was offered at no charge as well in order to try and attract a few more people to the ballpark. MSU students always get free entry. Adult tickets are generally $5, with discounts given to kids under age 18, seniors, and military ($3). When you factor in about $10 for concessions and $3-$6 or so for parking, there is a cost for attending a game that exceeds many other college ballpark experiences in the region, but overall it is still a worthwhile experience.
One-sheet programs are available for free in the stairways, giving you the rosters for each team, team stats for the Spartans, and the current Big Ten standings.
The hill in right field really adds some uniqueness to the park. You may be inclined to see balls hit to right field just to see how it may affect the game.
After the game, players are made available for a “meet and greet,” and kids are allowed to come down and run the bases.
College baseball is one of those hidden gems of sporting events, and a trip to McLane Stadium is a worthwhile experience. If you are in the state of Michigan, and need to get some baseball into the system in the early spring, then this is definitely a recommended stop. Check out the schedule for the minor league Lansing Lugnuts, who play about three miles away at Cooley Law School Stadium, and you may be able to make a doubleheader out of the trip.
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