Reese Smith Jr. Field – Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
Home of the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
Middle Tennessee State University is the second largest university in the state of Tennessee, with an enrollment of more than 22,000 students. It is located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee which is about 30 miles south of Nashville off I-24. The school opened in 1911 and is known for its Department of Recording Industry Management, which prepares its majors for work in the nearby Country Music Capital of the World.
Baseball was the first sport incorporated into an athletic program at Middle Tennessee, as the first team took the field in 1913. Today the home of the Blue Raiders baseball is Reese Smith, Jr. Field on the MTSU campus. It opened in 1979, and after several expansions, holds more than 2,600 fans. The ballpark is in the shadows of Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium, the Blue Raiders football home on the east end of the MTSU campus.
The Blue Raiders play in Conference USA. They were former members of the Ohio Valley Conference and the SunBelt Conference. The team has appeared in the NCAA Tournament 14 times and has won 11 regular season conference titles and 14 conference tournament titles. Eleven Blue Raider players have gone on to play in MLB.
Food & Beverage 4
Smith Field has a single multiple window concession area which processes orders very quickly. It serves the typical baseball fare at quite reasonable prices. An overview of the menu shows hot dogs ($4), cheese dogs ($5), hamburgers ($6), cheeseburgers ($6), brats ($6), popcorn ($4), peanuts ($3), cracker jacks ($2), candy ($2), chips ($2) and nachos ($5). We also sampled the grilled baloney sandwich ($6), as it is usually not found at a baseball park and found it to be quite tasty.
The beverage choices include Pepsi brand sodas ($3.50), Gatorade ($4) and bottled water ($3.50). Beer cannot be sold at athletic events at Middle Tennessee State University.
The exterior of Reese Smith, Jr Field is a very smart looking brick surface. Once inside the stadium, you will have no doubt you are in the home of the Blue Raiders. The seating bowl is blue, the outfield walls are blue and most of the press box is blue. The blue does form a nice contrast to the silver color of the aluminum surfaces within the seating bowl.
There is theatre style seating in the area immediately behind the home plate and stretching to each of the dugouts. Other than that, the seating consists of aluminum bench seating with blue seat backs.
The Lee Wall of Victory in left center field is hard to miss, as it towers over the other outfield walls. It recounts the many titles MTSU has won over the years in baseball. Another plus for the atmosphere found at Smith Field is the logo behind home plate featuring the Blue Raiders.
The MTSU campus is somewhat isolated from the commercial district along Hwy 231. You will be passing through a residential area to reach the campus. You will need a car, as most of the restaurants and lodging options are 2-3 miles from the campus.
One of the more popular restaurants in town is Toot’s. They have multiple locations in the Murfreesboro area. Another favorite of MTSU students is Gondolier Pizza. Most of the hotels will be found along South Church Street. Murfreesboro is rich in history and there are two sites you should include on your itinerary while in town. The Stones River Battlefield and Cannonsburgh Village are well with a visit.
The move to Conference USA has been difficult on the Blue Raiders, impacting both their record and their attendance. It was felt that the move to Conference USA would make a positive impact by playing more “name” schools and generate a spike in attendance. Instead, it took away most of MTSU’s traditional regional opponents. Conference USA is also widespread geographically, making it difficult for fans to travel with the team. Record-wise, the Blue Raiders have not been back to the NCAA Tournament or won any conference titles since joining Conference USA. This has resulted in a drop in attendance for MTSU.
This does not mean the Blue Raider fans are fair weather fans. They wear their blue proudly and cheer loudly after a great defensive play or an MTSU run scores. It is just not as fervent a place as when we last visited in the pre-Conference USA era.
Smith Field is located only 4 miles off I-24. It can be reached via one of two routes. From the Nashville area, take exit 80 on to TN-99 North (New Salem Highway). Turn right at the first light onto Middle Tennessee Boulevard. The campus will be on your right in 3.2 miles. Parking is available for free in the large parking lot just before Greenland Drive. From the Chattanooga area, take exit 81 from I-24 onto 231 North. Turn right at the second traffic light onto Middle Tennessee Boulevard. Turn left into the parking lots just after Greenland Drive.
Once inside the stadium, access is excellent. The concourse is wide, and the flow of traffic should not present many long lines. The size of the restroom facilities and the concession area is adequate for the typical crowd attending the game.
The inside bowl of the stadium is basically aluminum seating, except for the season ticket areas and prime seats behind the plate between the dugouts. There is an interior concourse to provide good movement horizontally inside the stadium. Most single game tickets are general admission. If the turnout for a game is low, the event staff is rather liberal about where you sit.
Return on Investment 4
Taking your family to a Blue Raider baseball game will not burn a hole in your wallet. Individual game tickets are six dollars and the parking is free. Concessions at Smith Field are very reasonably priced and hotels near the campus feature rates barely reaching $100. Murfreesboro has many family friendly activities to offer and you are only a 45 minute drive from Nashville.
The MTSU Sports Hall of Fame is located just off the main parking lot outside the stadium and is well worth the visit.
Statues of longtime MTSU coach John Stanford and stadium benefactor Reese Smith, Jr. are located just outside of Smith Field.
Murfreesboro is in the geographic center of the state of Tennessee. This makes it a very popular and logical location for statewide sports tournaments. In addition to Blue Raiders games, Smith Field has hosted the Ohio Valley Conference Baseball Tournament as well as the state high baseball finals for the state of Tennessee.
MTSU lists all its conference championships on the Lee Victory Wall of Champions on a large blue wall in left field.
A stop off in Murfreesboro for a Blue Raider game is a wonderful way to get more out of your visit to the Music City area. Lodging is much more reasonable in the ‘boor and you will be treated to a great night of baseball at Reese Smith, Jr. Field. You can then complete the remaining 30 mile trip into Nashville the next morning, with money still in your pocket and fond memories of your MTSU experience.
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Stones River National Battlefield
3501 Old Nashville Hwy
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Murfreesboro
1850 Old Fort Pkwy
Murfreesboro, TN 37129
Latest Crowd Reviews
The first official day of spring ended up bringing some great weather for this particular visit to Reese Smith Jr. Field, home of Middle Tennessee State baseball. It doesn’t take long to understand why Reese Smith Jr. Field is considered one of the better baseball complexes NCAA baseball has to offer.