Spuhler Field - George Mason Patriots
Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.29
10723 School Street
Fairfax, VA 22030
Year Opened: 1986
Patriot Games at Mason
The George Mason Patriots baseball team has been in existence since 1968, but for the first two decades of their existence, they were forced to play their home games on temporary or high school fields. Finally, in 1986, they got their own field on campus when Spuhler Field opened. The stadium seats only 900 and is part of a sports complex on the George Mason campus which also includes the Field House and various other stadiums. It is named after Raymond H. “Hap” Spuhler, the school’s first baseball coach.
Food & Beverage 2
There is a food truck at select Mason home games selling a basic selection of food. Hot dogs are available, as are assorted chips, candy, other snacks, soft drinks, and beverages. Prices are reasonably affordable with nothing being more than about $5 but the selection is not very good. Fans are also permitted to bring their own food into the stadium, so we suggest doing that or eating before.
There are three sets of bleachers at Spuhler Field, all of which are behind netting. While it can be frustrating to watch the game through a net sometimes, this is a necessity as the seats are very close to the action and the ball can come off the aluminum bats very fast. All seats are bleacher seats with no backs, although fans in the top row can lean against the back fence. There is a small digital scoreboard in right-center field which shows the line score in addition to the count and other standard information.
Once the game starts, the team doesn’t really make a lot of effort to keep fans engaged. There is a PA announcer and music played between innings and at-bats, but that’s about it. There isn’t even so much as a marketing table to keep fans informed of what’s going on with the team.
George Mason’s campus is located in suburban Fairfax County, just across the border from the City of Fairfax, which like all cities in Virginia is a politically separate entity from any county. This confusing situation aside, Fairfax is a typical suburb located about 25 miles outside of Washington, D.C. The University Mall shopping center is located across the street from campus and features the Oh George! Taphouse (whose name is derived from the university) as well as several chain places and a movie theatre. The Glory Days Grill on Nutley Street is a local favorite as well.
While Fairfax doesn’t have the same excitement you’d get in the District, it’s still a nice suburb with plenty to do and eat before or after the game.
Mason averages about 100 fans a game, and most of them into the game at all. There were a handful of cheers occasionally, but these were mostly from friends and family cheering on one particular player rather than the whole team. Some fans didn’t seem to be paying attention to the game at all, but they were thankfully a small minority. Still, even a few fans completely ignoring the game can be noticeable when the crowd is as small as it is here.
George Mason’s campus is about six miles off the Capital Beltway (I-495) or three miles off I-66. Once you’re on campus, ample free parking is available in the lot between the Field House and the stadium, with more parking available on the other side of the Field House in the unlikely event it is actually needed. Parking in the lot is $7.50, payable at a kiosk or via the Parkmobile app on your cell phone. The lot usually does not fill up, but if there are other events at the Field House or George Mason Stadium, it may. You can also park on the side of University Drive for free - just make sure to pay attention to all signs.
There is one port-a-potty right outside the entrance to the stadium, and fans looking for a real restroom can walk the short distance to the Field House, where they will find some inside.
Unfortunately, the George Mason campus is not easily accessible by Metro. The closest station, Vienna/Fairfax-GMU on the Orange Line, is about five miles away. There is a shuttle bus from the station to the George Mason campus that takes about 15 minutes, but then it is another 15-20 minute walk across campus to the stadium. The Virginia Square-GMU station serves Mason's satellite campus in Arlington and is nowhere close to the main campus in Fairfax, despite the name, so under no circumstances should you use that.
Return on Investment 2
Tickets for weekend games (typically Friday-Sunday) are $10 for adults with discounts available for children, seniors, and Mason faculty/staff. Weekday games are free and GMU students get in free to all home games. As mentioned above, parking is $7.50, which is absurd, particularly since it was free just a few years ago. Although a visit here certainly won't break the bank, it is far too much for the barebones experience you are getting.
There are free programs available in a bucket attached to the center set of bleachers. Although they don’t provide much other than rosters and a very basic scorecard, it’s hard to complain when they don’t cost anything.
The outfield fence has banners showing the Patriots’ postseason appearances as well as three retired numbers.
Although college baseball is huge in the southeast, including parts of Virginia, George Mason doesn’t seem to be located far enough south to take advantage of that. With sparse crowds and little done to encourage more people to attend, there is not much to make the casual fan want to come here. If you’re a fan of George Mason or their opponent, or are just baseball crazy and will check out any game anywhere any time, you’ll want to check out Spuhler Field. However, for a typical neutral fan, there is nothing here of note.