Brian’s At the Ballpark Archives

At the Ballpark – Lake Olmstead Stadium, Augusta, GA
April 20, 2009, 3:29 am
Filed under: 2009, Reviews


(Ed. note:  To see pictures of this visit, please visit this link).

If you ask any sports fan – particularly around the beginning of April – to give you his first response about Augusta, Georgia, the answer you receive should be fairly obvious.

The Masters.

This east Georgia city is the home of the legendary Augusta National Golf Club, which plays host every year to the aforementioned major golf tournament. Many of golf’s greats have cemented their legacy here, and the occasional unknown also gets the chance to don the green jacket. There is not an abundance of other sports in Augusta, though, so this yearly showcase is the nail on which the city hangs its sporting hat.

Professional baseball arrived in Augusta just over two decades ago. While there is not the baseball history found in other cities (the small list of major leaguers who played in Augusta includes Kevin Youkilis and Hanley Ramirez, among others), there is some star power in the front office. The Greenjackets are owned by Cal Ripken, Jr. and his Ripken Baseball group. The team plays in Augusta’s Lake Olmstead Stadium. The stadium was built in 1995, but the city of Augusta is already discussing the possibility of building a new park for the club in downtown Augusta. This is, of course, contingent upon financing and other economic factors.

Is the current facility a hole in one or a double bogey? Let’s find out.

Concessions: A

There is not the most tremendous variance of offerings in Lake Olmstead Stadium, but what is offered is quite impressive in both portion size and value. The best value can be found in the “baskets” offered at concession stands, available with hamburgers, cheeseburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches and chicken tenders. My choice was the chicken tender basket, and for $6, I got three gigantic chicken tenders and a sizeable portion of french fries. Coke Zero is also available as a beverage choice, which is a plus.

The usual suspects are also found here, including hot dogs, corn dogs, brats, pretzels and peanuts. Southern staple boiled peanuts are also available, among other snack items. For those who drink beer, there is a decent selection of domestic and imported beers, and Dippin’ Dots ice cream is available for dessert.

Prices are reasonable and what you receive for those prices is more than acceptable.

Atmosphere: B

Lake Olmstead is the prototypical “small town” park – though Augusta is not exactly a small town. Most of the promotions taking place between innings were easily forgettable. The between-innings fare featured the dizzy bat race, t-shirt toss, some sort of “pepperoni throw” where frisbees that resembled pepperoni pieces were thrown onto a pizza crust-like item on the ground and several other fairly unobtrusive events. The PA announcer and on-field emcee interrupted the game action once when getting confused over the number of outs left in the inning, but it seemed lighthearted.

The music was not over the top or excessively loud, the PA announcer was not a cornball and the focus was mostly on the baseball. The only real complaint was that the scoreboard was not accurate most of the time. The score was wrong a number of times, the incorrect player or number was listed on the board several other times and it was mostly a guessing game as to who was batting, what the score was or how many outs there were. The scoreboard is very generic – no video screens, no animations, just the linescore and the batter.

Sight lines: B-

The sights at Lake Olmstead are a combination of the good and the bad.

The good is that literally every fixed seat in the park is within a very short distance from the field of play. The top level of general admission does not require binoculars or a telescope, and still feels as though it is right on top of the action. The field level seats are even better, as you are within mere feet of the game going on. With that said, be aware of foul balls in this park. They fly toward the seats at high rates of speed.

The bad is that there are a few impeding factors to your view of the game. The general admission section about which I just spoke has support beams holding up the covered grandstand area. There are fans on the ceiling of the seating areas, which is nice, but the support beams block the views from some seats. Choose wisely in the general admission area. Also, if you go to get concessions, the stands are both behind the seating bowl and slightly below it. This means you will miss any action that takes place while getting something to eat.

Parking: B

This stadium is in the vicinity of a city park, and thus, parking on the stadium site proper is somewhat limited. If you proceed down Milledge Road past the stadium, there is plenty of free parking in grassy and unpaved areas within a short walk of the park. This may be a problem if it rains, but was fine on the clear night for which I was in attendance. I also noticed the Humane Society charging $5 to park in their lot just past the outfield wall, but there is no need to do this. There is plenty of free parking within reasonable walking distance. Ingress and egress are also relatively easy, as there are multiple routes into and out of the ballpark.

Quality of baseball: D

Savannah (Mets’ low-A affiliate) defeated the homestanding Greenjackets (Giants) 18-3. This should be all you need to hear about this game. Every batter except one for Savannah had a hit, and despite there not being a homer until Savannah’s last at-bat, there was plenty of offense on their side. Augusta did not get a hit until the sixth inning, and most of their offensive output came after the game was already decided.

Please keep in mind when reading this that I know host families read these reviews, and I understand the emotions involved in that capacity. However, Greenjackets third baseman Charlie Culberson committed three errors on the night, bringing his total to six just a mere couple of weeks into the season. Culberson was playing out of position (he is listed as a shortstop), but his defensive miscues directly led to a number of Savannah runs, and some angry Greenjacket fans. The pitching was really bad on the home side, and when combined with shoddy defense and lack of hitting, the result was not unexpected.

Overall grade: B+

Lake Olmstead Stadium is a typical “community” ballpark. The ballpark can be found in an older section of town, but the city park setting (complete with a lake behind the third base grandstand) is really cool. The people are friendly, the atmosphere is comfortable and the experience was mostly enjoyable. As mentioned above, there is talk of a possible downtown park, but I would hope that if that does come to fruition that the feeling of this field does not get lost. I have been to downtown ballparks in this circuit (Greenville is one that comes to mind), and they don’t have the same personal feeling this place does. It would be a shame to lose that.

How to get there:

Augusta (mostly I-20) is a construction zone as of this writing, so be alert at all times when traveling on the interstate around the city. To get to the ballpark, take exit 199 off I-20 (GA 28), and proceed on Washington Rd. Follow GA 28 for approximately three miles until you see Milledge Road, then turn left. The park is ahead on the right. The address of the park is 78 Milledge Road in Augusta.

You may also want to see:

  • Augusta Riverwalk. The Savannah River runs through downtown Augusta, and this city park area, while not San Antonio, still allows for a nice relaxing waterside stroll.

  • National Science Center. This children’s park features plenty to do for the overgrown child in your life, including Fort Discovery. There are tons of exhibits available to exercise both the mind and body, and you can have a nice day away from the park with the family without breaking the bank.


2009 is here!
April 8, 2009, 4:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags:

Well, folks, another year is here, and so is the season of reviewing ballparks. This is my sixth season doing this, and though you won’t find all the reviews on this site, they’re enough to get you started.

The review season will start soon, so be sure to keep an eye on this page for more details!