University Field – Hofstra Pride
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The Lions of Long Island
If you should ever find yourself roaming the fertile central plains of Nassau County, consider visiting Hofstra University, a private institution that has played baseball since 1938, although the program had a three year hiatus due to World War II. The University was built upon a large former estate that was owned by a Dutchman. This led to Hofstra adopting the nickname of Flying Dutchmen until 2004 when they officially became the Hofstra Pride. Despite the name change, the university hasn’t completely divorced itself from its previous incarnation. In several locations around campus you will see the words “Home of the Flying Dutchmen, House of the Hofstra Pride.”
Hofstra plays its baseball at University Field which has recently undergone some renovations and is located north of Fulton Street near the Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex main entrance.
Hofstra’s most well-known baseball alumnus is former New York Mets, Montreal Expos and Baltimore Orioles player Ken Singleton. New York metro area fans are probably more familiar with his current work as New York Yankees broadcaster for the YES Network.
Food & Beverage 0
There is no food or beverage offered to fans at Hofstra home games and there aren’t any other options within close walking distance. Some people will bring food for the players, but eating it is off limits to the general public.
University Field has a bit of a disjointed feel to it, as if its individual parts were thrown together in some haphazard way. The first feature you might notice is its irregular field dimensions. The playing surface is 322 feet down the left field line, 337 feet down the right field line and 380 feet in center field. In left center field there looms a 30 foot high chain link “monster” that renders it virtually impossible to hit a home run in that area. The infield playing surface is artificial turf while the outfield is natural grass. A very noticeable line where the surfaces meet at the edge of the infield not only looks odd aesthetically, but it can affect game play.
In 2010 the Pride constructed a new seating area behind home plate with 400 individual seats. This is the ballpark’s best feature and makes it comfortable to watch a game. Some fans will congregate down the third base line, but that’s about the only other option for seating. Down the first base line and in right field are trees that obstruct the viewing area. In the far corner of right field there is an unsightly area where the gardening and road maintenance equipment supplies are kept.
The area surrounding Hofstra University is a tale of two cities with Hofstra being the dividing line. To the south and west are areas considered “rougher” by most Long Islanders. Most visitors to Hofstra or the Nassau Coliseum will head east on Hempstead Turnpike toward East Meadow or north toward Museum Row and Roosevelt Field Mall when looking for post or pre game attractions.
For people traveling with children, the Long Island Children’s Museum is located just one block west of Nassau Coliseum on Museum Row and is well worth the $12 general admission. It has two large floors filled with interactive exhibits.
The museum sits next to Nunley’s Carousel which costs a mere ($2) per ride. The carousel has been relocated here from its prior home in nearby Baldwin where it had been operated for 55 years. Most native Long Islanders have ridden the carousel at some point during their life.
For older visitors, the Cradle of Aviation Museum, which contains a planetarium, might be a better option at $14. One of Charles Lindbergh’s plane is on display here as well as a lunar module that was produced on Long Island. The street on which these attractions are located is dubbed Charles Lindbergh Boulevard because he took off from nearby Roosevelt Field which was then an airfield on his world famous transatlantic flight in 1927.
For post game food or drinks one doesn’t have to venture far from Hofstra to find a great place. Located a mere 15 feet from Shuart Stadium’s north end on Hempstead Turnpike is the Social Sports Lounge and Kitchen a bar and restaurant. Owned by Wayne Chrebet, this bar offers top shelf drinks and gourmet versions of sports bar classics. Some examples include marinated skirt steak ($13.95), bacon stuffed burger ($11.95), rigatoni alla vodka ($13.95), Cap’n Crunch crusted chicken fingers ($8.95), soy Thai calamari ($10.95) and shrimp dumplings ($8.95).
The fans that come out to these games are generally of the friends and family variety. While there is nothing wrong with that, developing a fan base that extends beyond this is essential to the health of the program. College baseball teams that are in the Northeast generally tend to have difficulty with drawing as the weather can be rough during the early months of the season. I like to think of this category as a work in progress for Hofstra.
Getting to Hofstra is relatively easy. The university is located just off of Hempstead Turnpike, which is one of the major roadways that cut across Nassau County East-West. If you head north on Uniondale Avenue from Hempstead Turnpike you will reach the parking area to your left at the first available turn. Parking is free for baseball games.
Conveniently, the Meadowbrook Parkway is located less than a half mile away and has exits that intersect with Hempstead Turnpike. Use exit M4 and head west toward Hofstra if using this method of travel.
Public transportation is an option as there are five NICE (Nassau InterCounty Express) bus lines with stops at Hofstra University. These routes are the 43, 45, 70, 71, and 72. You could also take the Long Island Railroad to Hempstead if you didn’t mind a brisk 20 minute walk, or take one of the above buses east toward Hofstra University from the area near the train station.
Return on Investment 5
Hofstra does not charge admission for baseball games or any kind of parking fee. While there might not be any food available to purchase, the only costs for the consumer would be those associated with travel to and from the game.
If you should travel anywhere on Hofstra’s campus other than the baseball field, you will be in for a pleasant walk on a neatly manicured backdrop filled with interesting architecture and dozens of statues and plaques.
Due to its location in what feels like the nexus of Long Island, there seemingly is always something else going on nearby.
Since the decision to disband its football team, Hofstra University has struggled to find another popular sport to help fill that void. The men’s basketball team was anticipated to be the leader in this regard, but has fallen on hard times for a variety of reasons. Could baseball be the sport that energizes the alumni base and brings the Pride back to the forefront of the local sports scene? There is some work to be done here before that can occur, but it is not entirely inconceivable.
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