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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Brown

Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park - The Citadel Bulldogs

Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park 360 Fishburne St. Charleston, SC 29403

Year Opened: 1997 Capacity: 6,000


The Home of the Diamond Dogs

The Citadel was founded in 1829 as an arsenal and guardhouse to protect the city of Charleston. In 1842 it became the South Carolina Military Academy. It moved to its present location along the Ashley River in 1922. Presently it has a cadet corps of nearly 2,300. It has been ranked #1 in the South as a Public College offering up to a Master’s Degree and the Best College in the South for Veterans by US News and World Report. Each Friday at 3:45 pm the full corps of cadets participate in a full-dress uniform parade on the parade grounds. This event is free and open to the public and is well worth seeing.

The athletic teams representing The Citadel are known as the Bulldogs and they play in the Southern Conference. Baseball has been played at The Citadel since 1889 and has been one of the school’s most successful sports. Over the years it has had four forty-win seasons and twenty-six thirty-win seasons. The baseball Bulldogs have won the Southern Conference regular season championship thirteen times and won the Southern Conference tournament championship eight times. The team has made the NCAA tournament eight different times. In 1990, they became the only military college ever to make the College World Series.

Since 1997, the Bulldogs have called the off-campus Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park their home field. It is located just across a marsh from the main Citadel campus. The 6,000-seat stadium is also home to the Charleston RiverDogs, and is named for longtime mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Riley served as mayor for 10 terms, serving from 1975-2016, and was best known for guiding the city through the recovery from Hurricane Hugo. Mayor Riley is a Citadel graduate.

Food & Beverage 3

Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park offers a wide variety of foods at its concession stands. Amongst its vendors are the Peanut and Pretzel Café, Dave’s Sausage World, Grab-N- Go, Smokin’ Joe’s, Scoops, Pie House, Dog House and Dog World.

The concessions menu does contain several uniquely Charleston items. The RiverDog is a beef hot dog with cole slaw, Carolina BBQ mustard sauce and pickled okra. The stadium also is known for its Coastal Shrimp Burger. Another popular item is the Homewrecker, which is a hot dog with slaw, pimento cheese, pickles, okra and BBQ sauce.

The number of stands open and depth of menu items available at Citadel games depends on the opponent and the anticipated crowd. At the least, fans can expect a basic menu which includes hot dogs ($6), nachos ($4), corn dogs ($6), chicken tenders ($8) and hamburgers ($8.50). Pepsi brand sodas are available for $4.50, bottled water for $4 and domestic beers for $6.

Atmosphere 4

The Joe is a terrific venue to enjoy a baseball game. It offers scenic views of both the Ashley River and The Citadel campus, which is located just across a marsh from the stadium. Its architecture is in keeping with the surrounding area, including brick exterior walls and iron gates. The seating bowl is close to the field and primarily around the infield. There is no seating beyond the outfield walls. The main entry into the park is along the third baseline, as the first base side of the park lies along the banks of the Ashley River. It’s no wonder that Riley Park has been chosen as a frequent host for the Southern Conference Baseball Championships and four South Atlantic League All Star Games.

There are some seats at the higher levels of the stadium that are covered by a hanging roof. This can make a huge difference in fan comfort during the hot and humid spring and summer afternoons at The Joe.

Neighborhood 5

Joseph P. Riley Park is located just north and west of the Charleston Downtown Historic District. It has a very picturesque setting along the Ashley River. It is located just a few blocks from The Citadel campus. Tours are available daily, with both self-guided or guided tours available. The architecture and history of the school are well worth checking out. After your tour is over and you have worked up an appetite, head over to Rodney Scott’s BBQ. The James Beard Award winner serves up a unique form of Low Country BBQ. Also in the area is the Palmetto Brewery, which bills itself as “South Carolina’s Oldest Brewery Since Prohibition.” Hotels convenient to Riley Park include the Courtyard Marriott Historic District and the Comfort Inn Downtown Charleston.

Fans 4

The local business and political power structure in Charleston typically are Citadel graduates and the alumni base in the city is quite large. The baseball team has long been the most successful athletic program at the college, so it is not unusual to see the mayor, members of the city council and leaders from the business community at the games.

The Citadel and the city are so intertwined in history that the local community has adopted the school as its own, even if they did not attend the school. Cadets attend the games as their busy training and academic schedule allows. They are by far the loudest contingent at the game.

Access 3

Riley Park is easily accessed from any number of directions:

From Downtown Charleston: Take Broad Street west until it becomes Lockwood Drive. Continue to follow Lockwood for ½ mile and the ballpark will be on your left

From North Charleston: Take I-26 East to Highway 17 South. Turn right on Lockwood Drive and stadium will be on your left.

From: Mount Pleasant: Take Highway 17 across the Ravenel Bridge into Charleston. Turn right on Lockwood and follow it until you reach the stadium, which will be on your left.

Once at the stadium you will find the access to be excellent. The concourse is very wide, and both concessions and restrooms are frequent enough that you should not encounter any long lines.

Return on Investment 4

Fans attending a Citadel baseball game will receive an excellent return on investment. All home games are played at one of the top-rated stadiums in the minor leagues, with amenities not typically found in a college stadium. Tickets are priced at $8 for adults and $5 for students, with all seating considered general admission. Concessions at Joseph P.Riley, Jr Park are above average in quality, so expect the prices to be higher than usual for a college facility. Parking in privately owned parking lots adjacent to the stadium is $5.


Extras 3

The major baseball rivals for The Citadel are the crosstown College of Charleston Cougars, the Furman Paladins and the other military academy in the Southern Conference… the VMI Keydets.

The Citadel owns lifetime playing rights at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park as the facility is built on land formerly owned by The Citadel. The school donated the property to the city of Charleston.

Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park has hosted fifteen Southern Conference Tournaments over the years.

Final Thoughts

There is always something special about attending a ball game in which a military school is involved. The playing of the National Anthem means a little more and the pageantry of having a large portion of the crowd in military uniforms makes it hard to root against the home team. The close proximity of The Joe to The Citadel campus makes it very easy for you to take a tour of the campus with its manicured grounds and truly unique architecture.

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