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  • Writer's pictureDavid Welch

Bush Stadium at Averitt Express Baseball Complex – Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles



Photos by David Welch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Bush Stadium at Averitt Express Baseball Complex 345 University Drive Cookeville, TN 38501


Year Opened: 1978

Capacity: 1,100

 

Wings Up

The central Tennessee town of Cookeville is home to the Tennessee Tech University Golden Eagles. Located in the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee, Cookeville was established as a mill, logging, and mining town, which prospered from the rail line that ran through the area.


The University was founded in 1909 as Dixie College; the school was soon renamed Tennessee Polytechnic Institute, and then gained university status in the 1950s, again seeing a name change, this time to Tennessee Tech University.


Tennessee Tech has been a member of the Ohio Valley Conference in all but the conference’s first year of existence, 1948. Since joining the league, the Golden Eagles have won 10 OVC regular season championships, 4 conference tournament titles, and have made 6 NCAA tournament appearances, advancing to the Regional Finals in 2018.


 

Food & Beverage   4

A small concessions trailer is situated up the first baseline, and has a bit of a limited menu, but does grill hot dogs and burgers on site. Hot dogs can have chili and/or cheese added, while burgers can add cheese, a second patty, or chili. A signature item here, “The Dexter”, is billed as a “burger, bacon cheese, beef hot dog, more bacon, more cheese”, and can definitely be a food challenge unto itself.


A handful of snack items are also available, including the traditional baseball sunflower seeds, chips, candy, peanuts, popcorn, and Italian ice. Beverages include Pepsi products and bottled water. Beer is not sold at Bush Stadium.


While the concessions trailer does not offer a lot in the way of spectacular options, the fact that they grill burgers and dogs by hand really makes the experience one that brings a bit of nostalgia, reminiscent of days gone by when the grill was a staple at youth baseball concession stands.

 

Atmosphere   3

Bush Stadium could best be described as a low thrills facility with not a lot in the way of extras; the scoreboard gives fans basic inning-by-inning scoring and ball-strike-out information, and the restrooms consist of a cinderblock building down the right field line.


The small, aluminum grandstand runs dugout to dugout and is centrally topped with a modestly sized press box. The bleachers are bookended on either side by brick dugouts, which complement the brick clubhouse down the third base line. Seating is comprised of two side sections of individual, plastic molded seats, while the section directly behind home plate has bleacher seats with back support.



The playing field is comprised of a synthetic surface, backed by a padded wall running a symmetrical 335’ down both lines, 365’ to each power alley, and 405’ to dead center.


For purists of the game, baseball at Tennessee Tech might be a welcome relief from an onslaught of in-game ads, scoreboard games, and sound effects during seemingly every play. Tennessee Tech keeps the game the focal point of the day, and the lack of the aforementioned features doesn’t seem to bother home fans all that much.


The sun moves from the first to third base side of the field, so without an overhang to produce shade for the whole grandstand, seats on the third base side do receive shade before the rest of the seating area does. However, during cold, early season games, the sun on the first base side might be a source of welcomed warmth.

 

Neighborhood   3

Bush Stadium is in the northwestern corner of Tennessee Tech’s campus, neighbored by basketball’s Elban Center and some student housing – the Golden Eagles’ softball complex is just a deep bomb away over the right field fence.


Within a mile of the stadium, fans looking for a bite to eat can pay a visit to Spankie’s (for typical American cuisine), House of Thai, or get a pre-game coffee on those chilly game days, from Crepe and Creme on the front edge of campus. For more options, downtown Cookeville is about a mile from Tech’s campus center. Also, a host of chain and other restaurants can be found along North Willow Avenue, which separates the athletic fields from the rest of campus.


For those wanting to learn a bit about the history of Cookeville, they may want to visit the Cookeville History Museum, or the Cookeville Depot Museum, both in the downtown area.  Alternatively, visitors wanting to take in some of the natural beauty of the Cumberland Plateau can venture north of Cookeville to Cummins Falls State Park, or to Burgess Falls State Park to the south, both within 10 miles of campus.

 

Fans   3

The seating area at Bush Stadium does not lend itself to extremely large crowds, but fans are dedicated to showing up, even for early season matchups where the weather might be less than desirable.


Tennessee Tech baseball fans do not seem to be an overly rowdy bunch, but do show a knowledge of the game, as well as a willingness to chirp at calls like any typical fanbase would – complaints from the bleachers are consistent about what most might consider borderline calls.


What is a bit disappointing is the level of student support at games. While there are pockets of students spread around the seating area, they don’t appear to have an organized backing of the Golden Eagles.

 

Access   4

The Tennessee Tech campus is about 3 miles north of I-40, which runs between Knoxville and Nashville from eastern to middle Tennessee. Those traveling from anywhere along that route will have a straightforward trip to Cookeville, while those coming from the Chattanooga area will primarily use TN-111, which is a scenic highway through the eastern Tennessee mountains.


Once at Bush Stadium, parking is readily available in the lot along University Drive, which is close to the front entrance. The seating area is accessible from both the home and visiting sides of the field; a single walkway runs in front of the bleacher seats, so fans in the front few rows may have their view of the game temporarily interrupted by others making their way to and from their seats.

 

Return on Investment   5

The return on investment goes beyond the fact that there is no admission charged for Golden Eagle baseball. Of course, getting in free is a breath of fresh air, but what is equally refreshing is that concessions don’t gouge extra dollars from visitors – concession prices are kept in check here, even though there is lack of revenue coming in from more traditional sources, such as ticket prices.

 

Extras   3

Pennants recognizing the conference championships of the Golden Eagles wave from the top of the grandstand; this adds a nice touch in recognizing the historical accomplishments of Golden Eagles baseball over the years.


Just to the left of the entry point, a plaque honors Howell W. Bush, a former Golden Eagle baseball and basketball player, and the namesake of the stadium, in recognition of his funding the addition of lighting at the baseball stadium.



Free rosters and scorecards are also available in the magazine boxes along the grandstand-walkway, behind home plate.

 

Final Thoughts

Baseball at Tennessee Tech’s Bush Stadium is as straightforward a college baseball experience as can be found out there – it is refreshingly not overproduced to the point where attention is drawn away from the reason most are there, i.e. for the baseball. The experience does not come with a lot of extras, but is a good atmosphere for those who enjoy the simplicity of the game of baseball.

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