When discussing the best college baseball facilities in the country, Baum Stadium is consistently among one of the first places mentioned. With room for more than 10,000 spectators, an impeccable playing surface and amenities that rival most minor league ballparks, it is the crown jewel of the collegiate ranks. Of course the physical properties of Baum Stadium are only a portion of the baseball experience with the remainder in the form of fans that flock to the corner of Razorback Road and 15th Street to watch their Razorbacks take on all comers.
Officially named Baum Stadium at George Cole Field at its dedication on May 3, 1996, the facility derives its name from primary backers as well as from the history of Razorback baseball. Arkansas’ facility prior to Baum Stadium was George Cole Field, and the new park preserved the tradition with its current name.
In 1998, Baum Stadium received a special honor when it was named the nation’s number one facility in Baseball America’s poll of best college facilities. Five years later it took second in the same poll, cementing its legacy as one of the best facilities in the nation. Since its construction, Arkansas officials have received numerous solicitations by coaches and administrators from across the country for blueprints and tours of the Razorbacks’ home ballpark in an attempt to capture some of its charm. Even though Baum Stadium has been replicated to some degree, no other place in the country has the atmosphere that Baum Stadium brings to college baseball which is why it has been the host to five NCAA Regionals and a NCAA Super Regional.
Baum Stadium was one of the nation’s best facilities when it was constructed, but since then, it has undergone three renovations making it the envy of visiting teams. The first upgrade came prior to the 2003 season when the hitting and pitching cages were enclosed to ensure a place for Razorback players to practice year round. A total of 2,600 chair back seats were added to the park, 1,300 of which reside on each foul line.
Baum Stadium’s second renovation came a year later as 12 luxury boxes, coaches’ offices, a new scoreboard, and natural grass completely changed the feel of the park. A state-of-the-art scoreboard added full video, complete with a message center, and an analog clock was added to the right-center field gap, which stands 45-feet-high by 76-feet-wide. The original turf field of Baum Stadium’s construction was torn out and rye grass was grown for the 2004 campaign, but replaced by a hybrid Bermuda in 2005. Part of the upgrades were made possible by contributions from the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, Bob and Marilyn Bogle, the Pagnozzi Charities, John Tyson and Stan Ley.
The most recent major renovation to Baum Stadium came prior to the 2007 season as 20 luxury boxes were built, 1,000 chair back seats were added, restrooms constructed and the Hog Pen and picnic area expanded. A new ticket office, field lights and wall pads were added as well. The final set of upgrades to the park brought Baum Stadium’s capacity to 10,737 seats with 8,237 of those coming from chair backs and 34 luxury boxes.
In the fall of 2011, future renovations to Baum Stadium were announced that will ensure that the stadium remains among the best in college baseball. Included in that is a baseball/track & field training facility, which was approved by the UA Board of Trustees in the fall of 2012. The new training facility will include a weight room, indoor batting cages and an indoor practice field. Future plans also call for luxury suites in left field and right field, a concourse that goes around the entire stadium, including a new center field entrance to the stadium and a new LED ribbon board.
The combination of the upgrades prior to the 2007 season and a top 10 baseball team produced then-record attendance numbers as Arkansas smashed its school record for the fourth straight year. The Razorbacks became the first team in NCAA history to average more than 8,000 tickets sold per game (8,069) as its attendance over 33 home games was 266,270. Arkansas also set a then-school record for actual attendance with 198,218 (6,007 per game) passing through the gates.
In 2007, Razorback fans helped set the school and then-Southeastern Conference three-game series attendance record in the May 4-6 weekend series against LSU, with 30,564 tickets sold.
The superior attendance figures drawn to Baum Stadium allowed Fayetteville to host its third NCAA Regional in four years in 2007 and its fourth since 1999. Razorback fan support did not flounder as the regional was the best attended of all 16 sites, averaging 6,452 fans over its six games.
In April 2009, Baum Stadium played host to its first-ever No. 1 vs. No. 1 battle when the Razorbacks took on Arizona State. In game two of the midweek series, 11,014 fans were in attendance while 11,434 tickets were sold. Both numbers were then-facility records, topping the previous mark of 10,581 fans to see Arkansas defeat LSU in 2007.
The two-game series against the Sun Devils brought 17,300 fans through the turnstiles, a Razorback midweek record, and the 19,776 tickets sold were also a midweek series highmark.
Arkansas set a new attendance standard at Baum Stadium during the 2010 season as a record 292,734 tickets were sold to see the Razorbacks. Arkansas finished second in the country in both total attendance and average attendance (7,704). In part because of the great fan support, Arkansas was selected as an NCAA Regional host for the fifth time in program history. The regional drew more than 40,000 fans and attendance averaged 5,276 fans over the eight games.
Razorback fans continued to pack Baum Stadium in 2011 as Arkansas had six of the 20 largest crowds in school history in terms of tickets sold. The UA set a new single-game attendance record on April 9, 2011, when 11,103 fans crammed into Baum Stadium to see the Razorbacks defeat LSU 4-3 on James McCann’s walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.
The 2012 season saw Arkansas play a school-record 36 regular season home games. The Razorbacks finished second in the country in average attendance and third in total attendance. A total of 260,468 tickets were sold over the 33 home dates, an average of 7,892 tickets sold per game. Arkansas sold more than 7,000 tickets for 23 of the team’s 36 home games.
In 2004, Baum Stadium served as host to its second NCAA Regional and first NCAA Super Regional, drawing the largest total attendance in the nation for both events. The series-clinching win over Florida State drew 10,027 fans to Baum Stadium, eclipsing the previous night’s record of 9,338, set less than 24 hours earlier. In all, a combined 58,138 attended the NCAA Regional and Super Regional during the 2004 season.
Arkansas’ 2004 attendance numbers were no fluke as fans continued to pour into the ballpark. The 2005 and 2006 crowds continued to set records for both paid and actual attendance. While the NCAA and SEC recognize tickets sold as their method of ranking schools, Arkansas keeps both actual patrons as well as paid attendance figures and have seen steady increases in both areas.
In an informal study by the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate, Arkansas led the nation in actual attendance between 2004 and 2007 and was edged by LSU in 2008 by 20 fans as patrons returned to Baton Rouge’s Alex Box Stadium in its final season.
Baum Stadium is the culmination of a vision that was possible only through the dedication of former Arkansas head coach Norm DeBriyn, former UA Athletics Director Frank Broyles, and the contributions of Willard and Pat Walker and Charlie Baum families.
While the efforts of DeBriyn and Broyles have been instrumental in maintaining a state-of-the-art home for UA baseball since the original George Cole Field opened in 1975, it was the generosity of the Baums and Walkers that allowed Arkansas to abandon plans to renovate its former facility and replace it with a new standard in college baseball venues.
The support of the George Cole family has been an integral part of the program’s growth since the former Razorback athlete, coach and athletics director donned the cardinal and white many years ago.
“Without the support of the Charlie Baum, Willard Walker and George Cole families, this wouldn’t have been possible,” DeBriyn said when Baum Stadium opened. “It’s an incredible facility and there is not one like it anywhere in the country. There is no way to describe the excitement our players and coaches have when they take the field.”
Representatives of all three families attended the groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 12, 1994. Eighteen months later, Arkansas’ Matt Carnes delivered Baum Stadium’s first pitch to Auburn’s Russell Whittenburg, completing the dream. The Razorbacks defeated the Auburn Tigers 9-2 in the stadium’s inaugural contest.
Rivals.com 2008 College Baseball's Best Stadiums
Baum Stadium at George Cole Field
Dick Howser Stadium
UFCU Disch-Falk Field
Baseball America 2003 College Baseball's Best Facilities
|Baum Stadium at George Cole Field||Arkansas|
|Alex Box Stadium||LSU|
Baseball America 1998 College Baseball's Best Facilities
|Baum Stadium at George Cole Field||Arkansas|
|Dudy Noble Field||Mississippi State|
|Tony Gwynn Stadium||San Diego State|
2012 NCAA Attendance Leaders
Average Home Attendance
Total Home Attendance
Baum Stadium Top 20 All-Time Crowds (tickets sold)
|1. LSU||11,462||April 9, 2011|
|2. Arizona State||11,434||April 8, 2009|
|3. Mississippi State||11,194||April 16, 2011|
|4. LSU||10,727||May 5, 2007|
|5. LSU||10,399||May 4, 2007|
|6. Ole Miss||10,213||May 21, 2011|
|7. Ole Miss||10,031||May 18, 2007|
|8. Florida State*||10,027||June 12, 2004|
|9. Florida||9,862||May 7, 2011|
|10. LSU||9,854||April 8, 2011|
|11. Vanderbilt||9,782||April 11, 2009|
|12. Ole Miss||9,733||May 19, 2007|
|13. South Carolina||9,622||May 14, 2010|
|14. Alabama||9,615||March 17, 2012|
|15. Villanova||9,601||February 19, 2012|
|16. Kentucky||9,575||April 14, 2012|
|17. Oklahoma State$||9,572||June 2, 2007|
|18. Ole Miss||9,511||May 20, 2005|
|19. Kentucky||9,455||April 3, 2010|
|20. LSU||9,438||May 6, 2007|
$ - NCAA Regional
Baum Stadium Top 20 All-Time Crowds (actual)
|1. LSU||11,103||April 9, 2011|
|2. Arizona State||11,014||April 8, 2009|
|3. Mississippi State||10,784||April 16, 2011|
|4. LSU||10,581||May 5, 2007|
|5. LSU||10,147||May 4, 2007|
|6. Ole Miss||10,084||May 21, 2011|
|7. Florida State*||10,027||June 12, 2004|
|8. Ole Miss||9,812||May 18, 2007|
|9. LSU||9,712||April 8, 2011|
|10. Florida||9,603||May 7, 2011|
|11. Oklahoma State$||9,572||June 2, 2007|
|12. Ole Miss||9,508||May 19, 2007|
|13. Florida State*||9,338||June 11, 2004|
|14. Ole Miss||9,227||May 20, 2005|
|15. South Carolina||9,217||May 14, 2010|
|16. LSU||9,203||May 6, 2007|
|16. Vanderbilt||9,203||March 24, 2007|
|18. Vanderbilt||9,196||April 11, 2009|
|19. Kentucky||9,173||April 3, 2010|
|20. Vanderbilt||9,078||March 23, 2007|
$ - NCAA Regional