Siebert Field – Minnesota Golden Gophers
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Golden Gopher Baseball at Siebert Field
Tucked behind the football team’s practice facility with a view of TCF Bank Stadium off in a distance from right field sits Siebert Field. The home of the Golden Gopher baseball team isn’t the most salient athletic facility at the University of Minnesota, but it is definitely worth a visit. Reconstructed in 2012, Siebert features an artificial turf field, state-of-the-art scoreboard and plenty of seating including grassy hills to watch the game. It is a wonderful experience for baseball fans, perfect for an afternoon out with family or friends without the hectic crowds of a big-time football game. In short, Minnesota Gopher baseball may be the most overlooked sporting event in the Twin Cities.
Food & Beverage 3
There is nothing too special about the food offered at Siebert Field. Soda, hot dogs and hamburgers are offered for around $5.00. There is only a single stand, but there is never a line so you can feel free to meander over there and grab some food whenever you feel hungry. The lack of offerings is hardly a problem, however, as most games are played at 3:00 pm, in between meals. There are also plenty of other places to grab lunch or dinner in nearby Dinkytown or downtown Minneapolis.
There is a lot of off-campus housing behind the field, which gives students the ability to get home in time to finish studying or socialize immediately after the game. And because the other athletic facilities are near by, athletes from various sports will drop by before or after practice to support their fellow Gophers. With the mix of students and families, there is a great age range in the fan base, making it comfortable for just about anyone to fit in among the crowd.
The scoreboard at Siebert Field offers a couple of clean, interesting graphics in right field as well as videos of staff members interviewing players on the team. It is a clear scoreboard that can easily be seen anywhere in the park. All the action is up close and personal. It is a great way to introduce someone to the game because they are not forced to squint in order to differentiate between a slider and a curveball and you can catch the interactions between the players and coaches.
For college students, the neighborhood is great. Dinkytown has plenty of places that college students love to eat at: McDonalds, Jimmy John’s, Cane’s Chicken, as well as bars and house parties to attend after the game. Unfortunately, for people that have already graduated, you have to get back on the freeway again and head downtown to get away from the college scene. College students almost exclusively occupy the two closest bars, The Library and Blarney’s, as well as many of the nearby restaurants.
Although it is not located in a “college town” like Madison or Columbus, the U of M does a good job giving Dinkytown a “college feel.” While it may be charming to some people, others may be turned off because you have to drive a ways to find somewhere to eat or drink after the game.
If you want a more formal meal in Minneapolis, the Keys Cafe in the Foshay Tower is centrally located and offers a good meal. For Italian, go to Pizza Luce, which is universally known as the best pizza in town. It’s also worth checking out plays at the Guthrie or Orpheum Theatres, a standup routine at the Acme Comedy Club, or to listen to some live music at the First Avenue Club. For a more lively bar scene, Sneaky Pete’s is a can’t miss. Brothers or Bar 508, located right next door, will be more appealing if you want to sit down and relax. There is plenty of lodging off of the 11th Street exit from Highway 94, with the Hilton being an economic option and the Marquette as probably the best value.
There is nowhere to watch the game in the outfield, but fans pack the hills on either side of the diamond and the seats behind home plate. For the most part, people talk among themselves for most of the game, occasionally stopping to cheer on a specific player. This is not to say that they are not engaged. During pivotal plays in the game, people get loud or express disappointment depending on what happens, but it is certainly more subdued throughout the game than it is at a professional contest. Depending on what you are looking for, this can be positive or negative. A professional contest has more displays to keep fans vocal through all nine innings, but the collegiate game is a relaxing way to spend a lazy afternoon.
Getting to the athletic facilities, which are all pretty much located in the same area, is not difficult. The University of Minnesota is located right off of 35W, the main freeway that runs north to south, and the entire campus is well marked. Unfortunately, actually finding Siebert Field can be difficult. It is not recognized on Google Maps and has two addresses on many places online. The address I used was 516 15th Ave. SE and it brought me to the right location, but the field is tucked behind the practice facility. The best way to find it is to look for the foul pole, which isn’t that hard to see, but can be passed over if you’re not looking for it.
The streets in Dinkytown occasionally run one way, so you’ll have to take one route in and another one out, but the main streets run parallel to each other and it’s not hard to find the freeway on your way out. You do have to park along a dirt road on the side of the stadium, however, and may want to park a ways away to avoid having your sunroof shattered by a foul ball. The walk isn’t that difficult, and parking is free, but it can be difficult to find the first time around. Also of note: Do not park by the apartment buildings. This can be tempting, because there are often open spots on the weekends, but you will get towed.
Return on Investment 5
As long as you don’t eat at the game, it’s a pretty cheap ordeal all around. Tickets are about $5, parking is free and games usually do not interfere with mealtime. (There is a Dugout Club for people that want to support the university, the largest package goes for $1000, the smallest is $8.00, and you get your own seating area and bar-be-cue.) In general, because prices are so low and the quality of baseball along with the experience is pretty good, going to a Gopher baseball game is quite a bargain.
There are not a lot of bells and whistles to be found at Siebert Field, but three things stand out to me that make the experience unique:
For starters, the scoreboard display is well done. The graphics are fun and unique, it provides vital stats on players and can be easily seen from all over the field. There are cameramen that film various members of the crowd, which creates an interesting dynamic in such an intimate atmosphere.
Secondly, Goldie the Gopher runs around, interacting with children. And the kids absolutely go nuts. In fact, I overheard one profess his love for the furry forest critter. That, in and of itself, was worth going to the game for.
Finally, there are places to view the game from the roof of the nearby apartments. No, it’s not Wrigley, but it is still fun to see that people in the surrounding area are so engaged by the action on the field that they’re willing to scramble up a set of stairs to see the game from a long distance.
It’s a little out of the way, a little quiet at times and a little less crowded than the average sporting event, but that’s the joy of Gopher baseball. You can go and just watch the game. There are few distractions, the cost is pretty cheap and the quality of the players is pretty high. It’s a nice little getaway right in the middle of everything, which is probably what makes it so special.
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