- Lloyd Brown
Rudy Abbott Field at Jim Case Stadium - Jacksonville State Gamecocks
Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
Rudy Abbott Field at Jim Case Stadium Rudy Abbott Highway Jacksonville, AL 36265
Jacksonville State Gamecocks website Rudy Abbott Field at Jim Case Stadium website
Year Opened: 1995 Capacity: 2,020
The Gamecocks New Roost
Jacksonville State University (JSU) is a member of the Alabama University System and has a student body of more than 8,600 students. It was founded in 1883 and offers majors in business, education, engineering, nursing, computer sciences, social work and consumer/family science.
The athletic teams at Jacksonville State are known as the Gamecocks, a breed of bird known for its fierceness and strong will. The Gamecocks played for many years in Division II but have now moved up to Division I and are members of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC).
The baseball program at JSU has been in existence since 1948. It has a very successful history in both Division I and Division II levels of play. The team won the Division II National Championship in both 1990 and 1991. Since moving to Division I, the team has won three Atlantic Sun Conference regular season championships, two OVC regular season championships and four OVC tournament championships. They have appeared in the NCAA Regionals on four occasions.
The Gamecocks score a major just off the field victory in 2018 with the opening of the $7.5 million addition of Jim Case Stadium to the Rudy Abbott Field baseball complex.
Food & Beverage 4
There are two concession stands at the stadium. They sell your typical arena fare, including hot dogs ($4), nachos ($4), BBQ ($4), hamburgers ($4), popcorn ($3), peanuts ($3.50), chips ($2) and candy ($2). Beverage selections include Coca-Cola brand sodas ($4), frozen lemonade ($4), bottled water ($3.50) and tea ($3).
The addition of Jim Case Stadium to Rudy Abbott Field has created a whole new feel to Gamecocks baseball. JSU has a long and very successful baseball history, but its previous dwelling was not indicative of that success. Rudy Abbott Field had not changed much since its opening in 1995. It offered a chain link fence exterior and a cinder block building for its press box. The stands consisted of some aluminum bleachers and plastic bucket seats behind home plate. Often the fans would bring their own seating from home.
The new Jim Case Stadium honors the longtime coach of the Gamecocks while the field still carries the name of Jim Abbott. The new construction certainly makes the ‘Cocks the rule of the roost in the Ohio Valley Conference in baseball facilities. It offers a very attractive brick exterior, with the seating capacity inside doubling to 2,020. Individual stadium seats have replaced the aluminum bleachers of the past and four VIP suites now sit along the first baseline. The stadium now has a canopy to shield a large portion of the fans from the intense Alabama sun and protect them during rain delays A very popular berm seating area has been added along the third baseline. The concessions stand and restroom facilities have been completely renovated as well. The amenities for the players have also received a massive overhaul, with new dugouts, indoor hitting facilities and a clubhouse with a player lounge. These new additions are sure to be a boon for baseball recruiting and keeping the Gamecocks atop the standings for years to come.
Rudy Abbott Field at Jim Case Stadium is in the northwestern corner of the Jacksonville State University campus. It is a short distance to the Jacksonville town square which is full of shops, restaurants and entertainment options. Two popular dining choices are the WOW Café and Effina’s Tuscan Grill. The closest hotels to the campus are the Hampton Inn Jacksonville and the University Inn. The Anniston Museum of Natural History is just south of Jacksonville and is well worth a visit.
The fans at JSU have never been shy about their allegiance to the Gamecocks. They tend to show up at every sporting event in the loudest red attire available on the market. The fraternities and the sororities show up in force at games and seem to compete to see who the loudest supporters can be. The townspeople who may have no formal link to JSU also seem to claim the Gamecocks as their own. However, JSU is steeped in the southern tradition of treating visitors with respect and hospitality, so visitors from the opposition need not worry about any hostility directed towards them.
Jacksonville and JSU are in eastern Alabama, about 15 miles north of I-20. It is located 60 miles from Birmingham and 90 miles from Atlanta. To reach Jacksonville from I-20, take the Anniston/Oxford exit (#185) onto Highway 21 North. Proceed north for 15 miles to the Jacksonville City limits. As you enter the town square, go to the fifth red light and turn left onto Rudy Abbott Highway (Highway 204). Go one mile and the stadium will be on your left.
The parking area for baseball is the parking lot in front of Pete Mathews Coliseum. The ticket booth is located just off the parking lot along the third baseline of the stadium. There is a very gentle slope to bring you up to the concourse level, with seating primarily below the concourse.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets to Gamecocks baseball games are $8 for a majority of the games and $20 for the Auburn and Alabama premium priced games. Parking is free of charge. The concession prices are quite reasonable.
The Jacksonville State campus was heavily damaged by an EF-3 tornado that struck the area on March 9, 2018. Fortunately, no lives were lost, as the school was on spring break. However more than 50 buildings were damaged, with two to the point they had to be torn down. The community and the university responded with #JacksonvilleStrong and set about getting things back to normal as soon as possible. Sports provided a sense of normalcy for the locals and an enjoyable diversion from the massive cleanup efforts.
Even though they don’t play at the baseball games, JSU’s Marching Southerners are regarded as one of the top college marching bands in the country. They have performed at presidential inaugurations, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and the New Year’s Day Parade in London England.
Rudy Abbott Field has a lovely backdrop of the Southern Appalachian Mountains beyond its outfield fences.
Two uniquely JSU touches at the ball games are the playing of the band Alabama’s rendition of the National Anthem before the games (the band hails from nearby Ft. Payne) and the cockle-doodle-doo sound effect that goes out after an opposition strike out or a Gamecock’s score.
Jacksonville State University has been a small college athletic powerhouse for many years. The last few years have seen a significant upgrading of its major athletic facilities, including Pete Mathews Coliseum, Burgess-Snow Field and now Rudy Abbott Field at Jim Case Stadium. Gamecock fans and alumni certainly have a lot to crow about these days.