Bill Davis Stadium – Ohio State Buckeyes
Photos by Marc Viquez
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.43
Bill Davis Stadium 560 Borror Dr. Columbus, OH 43210
Year Opened: 1997
Bill Davis Stadium at Nick Swisher Field is the largest outright college ballpark in the Big 10 and stands out among its contemporaries in design and features. Even Dorothy M. Davis, who donated $1.5 million towards the $4.7 million to construct the venue in memory of her stepson, was astonished by its size during the construction phase in the fall of 1996.
At the time, Ohio State was in desperate need of a new baseball stadium. The Buckeyes had called Trautman Field home since 1966, but the 1,800-seat stadium was severely antiquated. The talks of a new baseball stadium picked up steam as the club was playing some of its best baseballs, making the NCAA tournament five times before the new ballpark opened. It was evident that the university needed a first-class baseball field and would begin constructing The Schottenstein Center, now Value City Arena, around the same time.
The ballpark would open on March 14, 1997, and lighting would be installed later on in November. It was a venue that featured 500 lower bowl seats, 2,500 upper grandstand seats, and additional bleacher seating down the lines. An inner concourse separates the two sections, and the outer concourse houses a concession stand and Dugout Digs, a small spot for Buckeye merchandise. In 2011, alumni and former major league player Nick Swisher donated $500,000 towards the installation of field turf. The following season the stadium added Nick Swisher Field to its name.
Baseball was the first athletic team founded at the school in 1881 and played in a series of locations around campus that included grounds near the Old North Dorms in 1892, the Baseball Diamond in 1925, and lowlands near Ohio Stadium in 1940. Trautman Field would open in April 1966, but it feels as if Bill Davis Stadium is the school’s first real ballpark.
The Buckeyes have made four College World Series appearances, finishing runners-up in 1965 and champions in 1966. They have a total of 22 tournament appearances and 15 regular conference championships. They have also honored four individuals by retiring their numbers: Fred Taylor, Steve Arlin, Marty Karow, and Bobb Todd.
Food & Beverage 3
The ballpark has a large concession stand near the entrance of the stadium that offers up a wealth of ballpark cuisine that includes hot dogs, nachos, brats, pretzels, and candy. The ballpark serves hamburgers with chips and brats. If you have a sweet tooth, there is Italian ice and candy served at the concession stand as well.
Coca-Cola products are offered from the fountain, and there is alcohol in the form of Bud, Bud Light, Blue Moon, Coors Light, and Fizzy Seltzer cans. The prices range from as low as $4 for a hot dog to $9 for a burger and chips. Soda is priced at $6, domestic beers are $8, and seltzers are $9. It should be noted that visitors bring credit cards or other forms of non-cash payment. The campus sports facilities do not accept cash.
Bill Davis Stadium would be akin to either a High or Low ballpark in the minor leagues. The seating bowl opens up to other campus facilities in the background, and there is plenty of room to move around and take in the game from different vantage points.
The atmosphere at the game is typical of many other Big 10 ballparks in the area. At the game of this review, the collection of fans was not deterred by the gloomy clouds up above, and as the weather warmed up a bit, so did the atmosphere. OSU mascot Brutus was one of the main attractions posing for pictures with fans young and old. He did not seem to get a break during his walk around the inner concourse of the stadium.
The field consists of a synthetic surface, a video scoreboard behind the right field area wall, and plenty of areas to grab a seat. The best bet for a better atmosphere would be against Big 10 rivals and ideal temperatures. However, if you enjoy the action on the field and baseball banter from the dugouts, this is the place to be for a few innings.
The Old North District is located just north of campus and is a popular destination for students. The streets are filled with restaurants, bars, and music venues, along with businesses that support the residents. It’s a pretty part of Columbus and worth visiting before or after a visit to Bill Davis Stadium.
A few places worth visiting are Jack & Benny’s, Ray Ray’s Hog Pit, Condado Tacos, Mother Cluckers, and DiCarlo’s Pizza. There is also a multitude of breweries that include North High Brewing, BrewDog Short North, Seventh Son Brewing Company, and Zaftig Brew Pub. Brothers Drake Meadery and Dulce Vida Short North round out a few other places of interest in the neighborhood.
Depending on the time of year, one could check out a Columbus Clippers, Bluejackets, or Crew game. All three teams play about 3 miles away in the Arena District, where Huntington Park, Nationwide Arena, and Lower.com Field are among the best in their leagues in terms of design, aesthetics, and experiences.
Despite the overcast skies and two other sporting events taking place over the next four hours, a nice crowd was on hand for the ballgame. Ohio State was playing Rutgers, so everybody was decked on in a hue of red. The fans in attendance were family members, friends, a group of visiting students, and a few onlookers taking in the game. There was a lot of cheering for the Buckeyes to get a base hit or score a run, while a few visiting team fans made their brand noise for their club.
The ballpark features wide-open concourses that include easy access to all parts for fans. The seating bowl is split with an inner concourse, the concession stands have large windows for easy access, and the parking lot has plenty of spaces for cars.
Return on Investment 4
The ticket prices are as follows in the reserved section: $11 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $6 for students. The cost of a general admission ticket is as follows: $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $3 for seniors. No matter your age - you will more than likely find a suitable price while attending a Buckeye game. The price of food ranges from $4 for a hot dog to $8 for a tall can of beer. There is no charge for parking. It is an inexpensive way to enjoy a baseball game.
Bill Davis earns a point for the great deals on the retail rack outside the gift shop. The retired numbers and player information garner another point. Finally, the Italian ice earns another point.
Bill Davis Stadium is a good-looking place for baseball, perhaps somewhat large for its size but impressive. Interestingly, I never paid much attention to the ballpark until a few years ago, but it’s worth a visit when in town for the weekend or just a night out with family and friends.
Follow all of Marc’s stadium journeys on Twitter @ballparkhunter and his YouTube channel. Email at Marc.Viquez@stadiumjourney.com