Rating the Sun Belt Ball Parks – #11 – From the Bird’s Nest
#11—GARY HOGAN FIELD—LITTLE ROCK
THE GOOD—They’ve actually made quite a few improvements over the years. At one time there was no press facility, no concession stand and shaky restroom facilities. At one time the infield turf was torn and the scoreboard sometimes didn’t work. There was no landscaping, no indoor hitting facility and absolutely no reason to go. But they now have a good turf infield, a nice berm located on the first base side, the scoreboard works and there is a building for media, concessions and umpire’s dressing along with coach’s offices. And, I like entering the park and walking down to your seat. It gives the ball park a bit of ambience. The berm is a nice spot to bring a blanket and watch the game. Once the game starts, it’s not a bad place to view a game. There are good vantage points throughout. I’ll give them credit for trying.
THE BAD—The media cinder block structure is tiny, but adequate since visiting radio and media relations people are the only ones that use it. The outfield is very low and drainage is terrible. A really hard rain can conceivably make for two days of cancellations because of safety issues. The dimensions are the smallest in the league and really not what I would call suitable for a Division I program. But the biggest pitfall is the location. It’s in the middle of a city park in the worst section of Little Rock and at one time was the neutral zone between some very bad gang activity. If you drive in the area around the park you’ll still see some teens (and younger) wearing either bright red or bright blue. And, while not as frequent, you’ll still hear an occasional gunshot on Friday night. That is what keeps attendance at under 200 per game. No one really wants to go there.
ANALYSIS—The fact they’ve made improvements shows they care and that’s a good thing. But they’ve got to get out of that location. There has been some talk of an on-campus facility near the soccer field. But now, (amazingly), Little Rock is talking about adding football. If they do, baseball can forget about being anywhere but in the middle of Curran-Conway Park. If that happens, they'll continue to be the University of Arkansas at Last Resort.