- Chris Green
Jackie Robinson Ballpark - Bethune-Cookman Wildcats
Photos by Chris Green, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57
Jackie Robinson Ballpark 105 E Orange Ave Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Bethune-Cookman Wildcats website Jackie Robinson Ballpark website
Year Opened: 1914 Capacity: 4,200
Daytona's Home for College Baseball
Traveling to college baseball stadiums in Florida, one would easily be forgiven for overlooking Bethune-Cookman; their baseball team plays at the home of the Daytona Tortugas, and not at an on-campus stadium. Located in the beach city of Daytona Beach also gives them plenty to compete with for attention. However, sitting in the stands with the team’s loyal fans, surrounded by history, has a certain quality to it. One should not be forgiven for skipping this ballpark altogether.
Food & Beverage 3
There aren’t a lot of food stands at the home of Bethune-Cookman, as the stadium is very old school in its construction. That said, the variety you find here is solid enough with plenty of affordability; you can find the usual ballpark fare in the form of peanuts ($3.50), Cracker Jack ($3), popcorn ($4), hot dogs ($3), and more. A fan favorite is the grande chicken nachos ($10), which lives up to its name, as well as the buffalo chicken tenders ($6) and funnel cake fries ($5). Drink options range from coffee to soda to tea and energy drinks, as well as Gatorade and bottled water, with prices ranging from $2 to $5.
There is something to be said about a stadium with a classic look – that old time construction with the covered seating behind home plate and the blockhouse dugouts is very much prevalent in Daytona Beach. However, while many find the old aesthetic charming, it has its drawbacks. The old-style construction means that anyone sitting above the fifth row has an obstructed view thanks to the support beams for the roof. And, while all the seats under the overhang have individual chairs, the seating along left field for general admission is metal benches with no backs. However, the Budweiser Bullpen and right field patio offer seating options for fans and groups with a field-level view and various seating options.
The stadium’s single-A tenants have done a good job with the field itself and the stadium aesthetic, maintaining the color scheme of the team throughout the facility rather well, but it means the contrasting red of Bethune-Cookman stands out against the green and blue of the Tortugas. Additionally, the stadium’s location on the water is a big plus as the view is pretty good from your seat – swaying palm trees and blue waters of the intercostal waterway make the backdrop one of the best in college baseball.
Immediately across the street from the stadium is a small downtown area full of local shops, while immediately across the water from the stadium is Daytona Beach proper, featuring the world-famous beach, pier, and the expected shopping and dining options. In addition, closer down the road towards I-4 along International Speedway Blvd are countless restaurants and shops, as well as Daytona International Speedway. The city has also done a good job trying to revitalize itself to make Daytona Beach more visitor friendly, meaning there is plenty to do. For lodging, you can’t go wrong with the Extended Stay America or WoodSpring Suites Daytona.
As with nearly every Florida college sports team, the attendance on game day is sparse most of the time on weekdays. Games are rarely sold out, but rivalry games with Florida A&M, Stetson, UCF, and others draw many visiting fans to even out the fanbase. With that in mind, the overall experience is still solid; the Wildcats are very family-friendly and the fans are a big part of that. Additionally, the fans who visit are a wide variety of baseball diehards, locals, and alumni traveling through the area hoping to see some of tomorrow’s stars.
To get to the stadium, it is as easy as taking the I-95 exit onto International Speedway Blvd, and then heading east. Signage showing directions to the stadium are well placed, so it is easy to find your way to the field. Right off the main road is the ballpark, rising from the water’s edge on the corner of Orange Ave and Beach St, and parking is plentiful on site and only $2.
Return on Investment 5
Ticket prices are $10 no matter where you sit. This means you won’t break the bank for tickets for a family of four, even when you add in concessions prices. Parking is also completely free at the stadium’s parking lot behind the outfield wall. With these all factored in, it is easy to say that Bethune-Cookman may be one of the best values in college baseball in Florida.
A statue of Jackie Robinson is a popular photo spot at the stadium for fans. Additionally, there is a big wall that features names of all the players from Daytona MiLB teams that have made it to the big leagues over the years.
Finally, all throughout the property are signs and infographics about the history of the stadium and its ties to Jackie Robinson’s story.
The idea of a baseball team playing in a beach city in Florida seems about as idyllic as one can imagine, and the stadium surely lives up to the image. With great views from the seats, fans in Daytona are treated to a great experience on game day. The affordability of Wildcats games is on par with the best the state has to offer, and it is easy to see why families and young baseball enthusiasts flock to Jackie Robinson Ballpark to watch a game, despite the heat of Florida.