CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The gates opened at Virginia’s Davenport Field at 10 a.m. Saturday for the first game of the Cavaliers’ Super Regional game against Maryland. By 10:01, Davenport Field had an extra row of seats.
Virginia fans equipped with lawn chairs quickly made their way through the newly opened gates and up the stairs, running across the concourse to the general admission lawn area down the left-field line. And this is not a practice that is limited to just high-demand Super Regional games.
“Every game,” Virginia fan Candace Green said. “And it’s the same people. We’re all family here. We start standing in line, and it’s the same people, year after year.”Green has been coming to Virginia baseball games since she was a student in 1987, and has been making the run for the general admission area for the past six years.
According to Green, there is a six-year waiting list for the blue chair-back seats behind home plate and in the infield, which are mostly occupied by university donors. But the accommodations in general admission are satisfying enough for Green.
“They're actually the best seats in the house.” Green said. “Here, you’ve got room, you can spread out, you can see the whole field, and you’re not cramped.”
Some of the runners made their way for a shaded area -- but not Dick Oliva, one of the first persons through the gates, who made sure to get the prime general admission spot, as close to home plate as possible, not having to deal with possible trees or poles obstructing view.
Virginia’s rise to prominence in the college baseball world has come with a growing fan base. Oliva grew up in the Charlottesville area, which have come to start filling up the stands at Davenport Field in support of the Hoos. Oliva says his schedule doesn’t allow him to come to every game, but when he can attend, he makes sure he’s in the row of lawn chairs.
“I think general admission has the most enthusiastic fans that are here.” Oliva said. “There are some sections where people are cheering and not cheering, I’d rather be over here, I don’t shut up during games.”
Virginia baseball has become a hot ticket around town. The Super Regional against Maryland sold out on Sunday, June 2.
“It’s high-quality baseball, it’s a small park so all the seats are great, it’s an enthusiastic crowd,” Virginia fan Jeff Fracher said.
Fracher has season tickets that are normally in the bleachers. But due to the high demand of postseason tickets, he was moved to the outfield. So Fracher decided to join the group arriving early to set up their lawn chairs on Saturday for the first time since starting to attend Virginia baseball games.
So how was the new game day experience?
“It was kind of fun; everybody is running up the stairs, you get here early, sit on line,” Pat Coffey, who was with Fracher, said.
As Virginia baseball continues to attract big crowds, the traditions will grow -- and this one of lawn chairs, waiting in line and sprinting around the stadium should stay a staple.