- Paul Swaney
Ray Fisher Stadium – Michigan Wolverines
Photo by Paul Swaney, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Ray Fisher Stadium 1114 S State St Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Year Opened: 1923
Hailing College Baseball Fans
In 1923, Ray Fisher Stadium hosted its first game at the University of Michigan with the home Wolverines defeating rival Ohio State by a score of 3-2.
Much has changed in the stadium's history, most notably a $9 million renovation that was completed in 2008. More recently, the school has replaced the natural grass and dirt field with an all turf surface for the 2014 season. The current facility offers a comfortable, if less than spectacular, venue to watch college baseball. Ray Fisher Stadium is part of the larger Wilpon Baseball and Softball Complex which also houses Alumni Field, home to Michigan women's softball.
Ray Fisher Stadium is next door to Yost Ice Arena, and fans can see the Crisler Center beyond center field, and Michigan Stadium beyond right field.
The ballpark received its current name of Ray Fisher Stadium in 1967, dedicated to the former baseball coach who guided the Wolverine program from 1921-1958.
Food & Beverage 3
There are two permanent concession stands inside Ray Fisher Stadium, although depending on the size of the crowd expected, there may only be one that is open. You'll find your usual ballpark snacks including hot dogs ($3.50), nachos ($5), soft pretzels ($4), popcorn ($5), sunflower seeds ($4), candy ($3), and Cracker Jack ($3). The prices are definitely on the high side compared to other venues in the region.
For beverage choices you have bottled soda ($4), and bottled water ($3.50).
What elevates the food and beverage selection is the 3rd Base Grill. Here you'll find Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches ($7), cheeseburgers ($6), Polish sausage ($6), spicy Cajun sausage ($6), and kosher dogs ($5). Again, the prices are a little on the high side, but the quality is pretty good. It's nice to see the selection at a college baseball ballpark in the Midwest.
This is a nice little park to see some baseball. Ray Fisher Stadium seats 4,000 when packed to the gills, and all of the seating fits from halfway up the first base line to halfway up the third base line. There are a few wheelchair accessible spots along the netting behind home plate. From there, ten rows of blue plastic bleachers extend past the concourse, followed by 9-10 rows of blue plastic chair back seats. The seats include a cup holder, and there is better than average leg room.
Most parks would place the bleachers behind the chair backs, so it is good recognition by the school that the better seats are actually a bit further up, as you have a better view of the action on the field.
You can expect the sun to be a factor in right center during the spring so be sure to wear a hat or sun glasses so you don't end up squinting the entire contest. If there is a little rain or you want to get out of the sun, then sections 1 (first base side) and 6 (third base side) are covered in the areas with stadium seating.
The scoreboard has recently been updated with video replays offered alongside the line score and player stats. It really helps improve the game experience at Ray Fisher Stadium. I would suggest sitting on the 3rd base side so you can see the scoreboard without having to turn your body.
The new turf field takes away a bit from the aesthetics for a baseball purist, but it is certainly much easier for the program to maintain. The large brick wall in left field adds some character to the venue.
Ann Arbor is one of best college towns in the United States, and all of their notable sports facilities are a little less than a mile from downtown, so the trek from Ray Fisher Stadium to downtown is certainly walkable. There are several places worth recommending.
Ashley's is a wonderful bar with hundreds of beers available, and some tasty food as well. Grange is a great place for more adventurous foodies with mainly local ingredients, and some really amazing house made sausages. I like the Blue Tractor for its BBQ and locally made brews. If you have kids with you, then the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is a great place to spend a couple of hours, and will be a winner with young ones.
There are plenty of other great bars and restaurants worth visiting if you'll be in Ann Arbor for a weekend, so be sure you explore what the city has to offer.
It's a tough thing to be a college baseball fan in the state of Michigan, as you can expect some pretty cold temperatures. Plan appropriately and dress in layers.
The fans in attendance clearly care about the team and the university. It's mainly a friends, family, and dedicated alumni kind of crowd, and many of them will be season ticket holders. College baseball is a great place for families to take in a game, and this is no exception. You can expect the crowd to be at its best when Michigan scores a run and "Hail to the Victors" is played over the PA.
Ray Fisher Stadium typically attracts just over 1,000 fans on average, so especially during the weekend you should see some decent sized crowds, but you will still be able to pretty much choose your seat.
There is a small lot with free parking right next to the stadium in the Athletic Lot (SC 20) and the Glick Lot from the State Street and Hoover Street entrances. Occasionally for bigger games this may become a pay lot, or it may fill up. If so, street parking is available and meters allow a 4 hour parking maximum, which should allow you to see an entire game ($1.40 an hour for the meters near Ray Fisher Stadium). Another option is to park near Crisler Center and walk the winding sidewalk toward the facility.
If you plan on spending time downtown before or after the game (or both), then you can always park downtown, and walk to and from the game. There are several parking garages available at reasonable prices.
The small ballpark is very easy to navigate, and certainly wheelchair accessible. Bathrooms are clean and warm (especially important during those March and April games), and concession stands have enough staff to handle the lines.
Return on Investment 4
Chair back seats cost $8, and general admission tickets are just $2. Unless there is a large crowd, you should go for the GA ticket as you will be able to sit pretty much anywhere you like. Even if you end up in the bleachers they are reasonably comfortable with good leg room between rows. There are discounts for youth and senior citizens, and prices rise to $5/$10 for Big Ten games. It's still a relatively good value. Children under 5 receive free admission, and some weekday games against lesser opponents may be free admission as well, so if you're in the area, keep an eye out for these free games.
Free or low cost street parking helps to balance out the concessions and higher prices there, so overall there's a pretty good return on your investment.
Along the outfield wall in left center field you'll see the retired numbers of former Wolverine greats including Moby Benedict (#1), Bill Freehan (#11), Barry Larkin (#16), Jim Abbot (#31), Don Lund (#33), and Ray Fisher (#44). The stadium's namesake coached the baseball team from 1921-1958, winning a National Championship in 1953.
The Wolverines have had a successful program with 35 Big Ten titles entering the 2015 season, and two National Championships (1953 & 1962). These accomplishments are commemorated on the outfield walls stretching from center to right field.
College baseball is the first opportunity for Michiganders to get out and see a game, a clear sign that spring is here, regardless of what the thermometer may say. With its location in a great college town, Ray Fisher Stadium is a good place to get your baseball fix.
The Michigan athletic department has really invested in improving its athletic facilities in the past 5-10 years, and the subtle upgrades to Ray Fisher Stadium make it a fine place to watch college baseball.