Already established as a fine Minor League Baseball venue, Pensacola’s Blue Wahoos Stadium got its first crack at hosting football on Saturday. By many measures, the game was a success.
The game marked the regular season home debut of the University of West Florida Argonauts, who are beginning their first year of competition in the Division II Gulf South Conference. Back in 2013, UWF announce its intention to play home games at Blue Wahoos Stadium, which is the acclaimed home of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Class AA; Southern League).
First opening in 2012, Blue Wahoos Stadium has received several awards, including our most recent Best of the Ballparks competition for the Double-A level. In other words, its reputation as a fine baseball facility is well established, but some saw Saturday’s game as affirmation of the ballpark’s positive role for UWF and the community as a whole. More from the Pensacola News Journal:
You may look back on Sept. 10, 2016 as the day that forever changed UWF.
The Argos went from no uniforms, no field, no players, no idea to creating a spectacle where 6,228 people crammed every open space at the bayfront stadium to see a football game.
A sellout and then some. Unless it was graduation day, UWF never had a day or way to connect to this many people.
The biggest winners Saturday weren’t wearing helmets.. UWF president Judy Bense made this happen from the UWF standpoint. And Blue Wahoos owner Quint Studer made this happen from a partnership standpoint.
They have a lot in common. Both know what it’s like go against the grain. To rely on their own resolve.
Make no mistake, without Blue Wahoos Stadium, without all this venue has done for this community, Saturday never happens for UWF.
Perhaps one of the more interesting angles of this is the timing. Blue Wahoos Stadium featured baseball just two days before the Argos’ home debut, as the Blue Wahoos hosted the Mississippi Braves for playoff action on Thursday. (The Blue Wahoos were eliminated with a loss in Mississippi on Saturday.
Many ballparks around MiLB are being designed with non-baseball events in mind, and the Columbia Fireflies’ (Low A; Sally League) Spirit Communications Park comes to mind as a recent example of a ballpark that was developed to accommodate football. Among its contemporaries, Blue Wahoos Stadium certainly takes a unique distinction as being a full-time home to both affiliated baseball and NCAA football. If it proves to be a success in Pensacola, perhaps the combination of NCAA football and baseball will be explored for other ballparks.
Photo courtesy UWF Argos.