Long considered one of the best baseball facilities in the Southland Conference, as well as the state of Louisiana, Southeastern Louisiana University's Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field received national recognition following the 2013 season as one of the best college ballparks in the nation.
Having visited a substantial number of NCAA Division I ballparks over the past two seasons, the staff at StadiumJourney.com ranked Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field as the 16th-best overall. The ranking tabs it as the best in the Southland, second-best in the state and well ahead of several of college baseball's elite programs.
"I'm glad to see the rest of the nation taking notice," athletics director Jay Artigues said. "'The Pat' is one of the best atmospheres in all of college baseball. You can see from our home record just how tough it is for visiting teams to come to Alumni Field."
Over the years it has provided Southeastern with a sizable home-field advantage as the Lions have either led, or been second in, the Southland in attendance each of the last seven seasons. During the last five seasons, the Lions have won 104 games at home (.738 winning percentage).
Southeastern's mid-major gem ranked ahead of ballparks at Stanford, North Carolina, Ole Miss, USC, Virginia, Arizona State, Miami, Florida, Southern Miss, Baylor, Alabama, Oregon State, Long Beach State, Fresno State, Houston and Kentucky.
The stadium, which is named in honor of all Southeastern alumni and dedicated to Hall of Fame coach Pat Kenelly, comfortably seats 2,500 spectators with box seats at field level, an elevated grandstand with chair-back seats and bleachers, as well as two sections of bleachers down the foul lines.
Crowds of more than 3,000 can easily be accommodated for matchups with nationally-ranked opponents such as Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Southern Miss and Tulane.
Host of the 1992 Trans America Athletic Conference Championship as well as the 2004 Southland Conference Championship, the facility has undergone a series of aggressive makeovers in the past few years.
Rain outs are infrequent at Alumni Field, as as a complex drainage system installed in the outfield in 2003, can drain the playing surface within 20 minutes. A new LED message center-enabled scoreboard was also installed, along with an upgraded outfield fence and foul poles.
Other improvements included an upgrade to the press box, the installation of a brick wall fencing down the foul lines and waterproofing the grandstand to keep fans sheltered from the rain.
Heading into the 2008 campaign, the playing surface underwent a massive upgrade. New Bermuda Tifway 419 sod replaced the old grass, and concrete was poured in front of the dugouts which received new brick facing to match the foul line walls. New handcrafted permanent wooden team benches replaced the old portable stainless steel models.
Prior to the 2012 season, the field lighting was upgraded and the Lions’ bullpen moved from the field of play, relocating behind the scoreboard in left field next to the team’s hitting facility. Constructed in 2011, and made possible by a generous donation by Hammond residents John and Georgianne Poteet, the hitting facility is 3,000-square feet of covered, lighted cages usable in inclement weather.
New to the ballpark affectionately referred to as “The Pat” by members of Lion Nation in 2013 is a brick backstop along with poles and netting system. Infield drainage was improved, and the diamond re-sodded, while the most visible upgrade in recent years involved the installation of a decorative-metal perimeter fence.
The past nine seasons, Alumni Field crowds have placed Southeastern consistently near the top of the Southland Conference standings in attendance. The Lions led the conference in overall attendance in 2007 (17,648), 2008 (19,944), 2010 (27,391), 2013 (22,429) and 2015 (31,077) while ranking second in 2009 (18,302), 2011 (21,944), 2012 (27,677) and 2014 (22,619). Southeastern also led the conference in per-game average attendance in 2007 (630), 2008 (643), 2013 (975) and 2015 (1,077) while finishing second the four seasons in between (677 in 2009, 846 in 2010, 878 in 2011, 988 in 2012, 753 in 2014).