ALSO CHECK OUT: 2014 College World Series coverage
OMAHA, Neb. -- Walk around the perimeter of TD Ameritrade Park, the home of the College World Series, and you'll see flags and banners from all over. Nebraska, of course, Iowa, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and others are represented out in the parking lots. But beyond those schools, one in particular stands out: LSU.
Yep, go look at the eight teams in the College World Series this week and you won't find Louisiana State University on the list. However, folks in Baton Rouge love a good party, and it's always happening in Omaha during the CWS.
As part of our College World Series coverage, we've teamed up with our friends at Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) to bring you a tradition-oriented look at the growing sport of college baseball.
With that, we take an inside look at four bucket list ballparks to visit:
1. Alex Box Stadium, LSU (Baton Rouge, La.)
One of the true cathedrals in college baseball, "The Box" as locals call it, is a true mix of the old and new. The Tigers played in the old Alex Box Stadium a few years ago, a stadium that at one point in the early 1900s served as a spring training home. However, the new Alex Box Stadium is fan-friendly, luxurious, and most importantly, still has that edge that often encompasses any event that involves LSU, home and away. In addition to the "Intimidator" billboard in right field, the atmosphere inside and outside the stadium is special. Outside, be sure to peruse the tailgating, as chances are great you'll be welcomed with food.
2. Dudy Noble Field-Polk DeMent Stadium, Mississippi State (Starkville, Miss.)
I was fortunate enough to mark this ballpark off my list earlier this season, as the Bulldogs played host to heated in-state rival Ole Miss. Somehow, I had gone 12 years of covering college baseball without heading to Starkville, but that hiatus is over. And I must say, the atmosphere for a big series was incredible. The stadium was packed with about 10 or 11,000 fans, and best of all, another 2,000 or so were in the outfield, watching the game, tailgating, and perhaps indulging in a few adult beverages. The atmosphere at Dudy Noble truly is what college athletics is all about. At least for a big series, I'd give the atmosphere and experience at Dudy Noble an A+.
3. Dick Howser Stadium, Florida State (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Florida State has a unique mix of everything at Dick Howser Stadium. It's an intriguing ballpark to say the least. Despite the fact the Seminoles can get 6,000-plus in there for a huge series, it remains an intimate setting with the seating areas right on top of the action. FSU has an outstanding atmosphere for big games, and the Section B Animals constantly are leading cheers and doing things to perhaps spark an FSU rally. Head to Tallahassee for a weekend series and you'll find a healthy dose of tailgating. FSU is one of the better places in America to watch a college baseball game.
4. Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field, Mississippi (Oxford, Miss.)
Ole Miss has had quite an impressive transformation when it comes to its stadium attendance and atmosphere over the past decade or so. When coach Mike Bianco arrived back in the early 2000s, the Rebels average around 1,900 fans a game. However, the Rebels now average over 7,000, and it's customary to get over 10,000 for a big weekend series. In addition to a passionate crowd inside the stadium, the Rebels have one of the better atmospheres in college baseball in the outfield, too, as students and others pack the outfield hill for most games. It's truly a special place to watch a game.