Naimoli Family Baseball Complex – Fairleigh Dickinson Knights
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A Curious Little Ballfield
Fairleigh Dickinson University is New Jersey’s largest private institution, founded in 1942. As of 2015, it is the state’s largest private institution of higher education with approximately 11,619 students. There are two campuses in the state in Madison and Florham Park, as well as Metropolitan Campus in Teaneck and Hackensack outside New York City in Bergen County.
The Metropolitan Campus is where the school competes in NCAA Division I athletics and are known as the Knights, while the Madison/Florham campus completes in NCAA Division III athletics and using the Devils nickname for its sports teams. The Knights baseball team have called the Naimoli Family Baseball Complex home since the spring of 2011. The field features both a synthetic infield and outfield playing surface, while further improvements will feature lighting, stands, and a press box.
Food & Beverage 0
There is no food or beverage served at the complex, and it is wise to either eat before your arrival or bring your own food to the game. A very common occurrence at many baseball fields across the copious college campuses in the country. However, there are many fast food choices nearby that are easily accessible to ballpark that could help out in a pinch. Do not be surprised to see a few fans brown bagging it during the ballgame.
The baseball field is recognizable from Route 4, but it does feel somewhat hidden from the rest of the FDU campus. The ball field stands directly below the very busy state road that connects commuters to New York City via the George Washington Bridge. It is a very peculiar place for a baseball field, and there is not a lot of room for many things that are common at ballgames for the fans.
The main issue is that there are very few spots to grab a seat at the game, with the exception of a couple of movable small wooden bleachers near home plate. The majority of the fans either stand, bring their own chairs, or will find a sporadic plastic chair to use to watch the game. This is not your most fan friendly baseball complex, but this is due more to its cramped spacing and proximity to the highway up above than anything else.
A small scoreboard stands down the third baseline, while the entire field is heavily enclosed with netting to prevent foul balls from striking cars down the left field line on the highway. The backstop itself looks like it would be better off behind a t-ball field. The outfield walls are decorated with the name of the complex, and the all synthetic field is in immaculate condition featuring the college name and logo down the first and third baselines.
The FDU campus stretches between the cities of Teaneck and Hackensack. These two cities are a mix of residential and urban. The best part about attending a FDU game is that you are in close proximity of many places to eat and shop. The Shops of Riverside is a mall that features well known chain franchises including P.F. Chang’s, Cheesecake Factory, Friday’s, Smashburger, and Houston’s.
There is also a Hooters and several other local pizza parlors nearby, but the best place for a pie is at Brooklyn Pizza. It is a must before or after the game with their coal oven pizza and in-house mozzarella which give their pizza a one of kind taste at a low price. Also, try the fried ravioli, a somewhat rare treat in this part of the country. If you’re in the mood for more Italian food, then Donn Pomodoro is an excellent choice, especially for brunch on Sundays.
There are not too many places for the fans to sit and cheer on their Knights baseball team, and perhaps this is why there are so few fans who attend the game. The ones who are in attendance, make sure they are heard loud and clear.
The baseball complex can be a bit of hassle to access for the first time. There are not too many clear signs for drivers and one could get lost or frustrated trying to figure out where the baseball field is. Add rush hour traffic from the city into New Jersey, and you have the makings for a few headaches. The best way to reach the field is to drive past the campus, under the Route 4 bypass, and make a right into the field house parking. Once you are there, park your car, and take the tunnel to the ballpark – one of the most original ways to arrive to a baseball game and a little fun to take photos inside.
Return on Investment 2
Even though there is not a cost for admission, attending a game is definitely left up to the imagination. Without proper seating, concessions, and even bathrooms, returning for games in the future might be limited for an average customer. There are many other college ball fields that do not offer a lot of seating, but it is usually compensated with a large grassy hill or a small knoll to spread out a blanket to enjoy the game. Unfortunately, this does not exist here at FDU.
One star for the quirkiness of the stadium’s location that includes a somewhat secret tunnel entrance.
A second star for its all synthetic turf and lack of a dirt infield. For the type of weather that exists in New Jersey during the spring time, there is less of a chance for rain outs due to flooded fields.
A third star is not baseball related. Just beyond the outfield walls is the university’s soccer field. A rather basic configuration, but one that should be noted as the first professional home to US Men’s National Team Goalkeeper and New Jersey native Tim Howard. In 1997, a then 18-year-old rookie began his professional career with the North Jersey Imperials of the United Soccer League posting a 0.99 GAA before moving up Major League Soccer and eventually the English Premier League.
The game that I attended most recently was quickly washed out due to a wintery mix of rain and snow. Unfortunately, few were in attendance due to the gunpowder skies and chance of precipitation. However, I am not sure how many more would have been at the game due to the limited and lack of seating. The university does have plans to add lighting, a press box, and more seating to the complex in the near future. Perhaps the much needed updates could be just what the baseball field needs to enhance the fan experience at the game.
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