When you think about a night out in Charleston, baseball might not immediately come to mind. But, going to a RiverDogs game is a fun and relaxed experience, and you don’t have to know much about baseball to enjoy an evening at “the Joe.” Here's an overview of everything you need to know--from where to sit to the RiverDogs bag policy for game nights.
For most Charleston residents, a typical night out involves going to one of the many famous restaurants or rooftop bars on the peninsula, or perhaps eating out on Sullivan’s Island before watching the sun set over the Holy City. But, from April through September, there is another very different—but equally enjoyable—option to consider: Going to a Charleston RiverDogs game at the Joe.
For those who don’t know, the RiverDogs are Charleston’s minor league (MiLB) baseball team. They play their home games at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park, which is known to locals as “the Joe.”
The Joe is located on the peninsula, just north of Brittlebank Park on the banks of the Ashley River. It is within walking distance of MUSC, and the MUSC Hagood Lot on Fishburne Street serves as the main parking area for the stadium. During evening games, the sun sets over the river behind the outfield fence, creating a special atmosphere that adds to the overall experience.
What to Expect (and What Not to Expect) When You Go to a RiverDogs Game
If you park at the MUSC Hagood Lot, you’ll have a short walk to the stadium—about five minutes at most. You will enter behind the east stands, after going through a quick bag check at the gate (fans are allowed to bring “small purses, medical bags and diaper bags” only).
Once you’re in the stadium, it’s a good idea to go ahead and get any food or drinks you want. Popular items (like pretzels and ice cream) can sell out on busy nights.
As the team explains on its website, “[t]he Charleston RiverDogs are committed to creating a family-friendly and welcoming environment at the ballpark for all guests. As part of that commitment, we have adopted a Fan Code of Conduct addressing fan behavior.” The Fan Code of Conduct prohibits things like using obscene language and drinking to excess.
If you’ve ever been to a major league baseball game, you will need to adjust your expectations when going to your first RiverDogs game at the Joe. Attending a minor league game in Charleston is very different from attending a major league game in a major city.
This has nothing to do with the quality of the game itself, but rather the nature of the experience. The stadium is small (with a capacity of just 6,000), and most people who attend RiverDogs games are casual observers. You’ll definitely see some fans decked out in team gear—and the RiverDogs have some very cool jerseys and hats—but don’t expect the big-league atmosphere you might experience at Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, or Camden Yards. Going to a RiverDogs game is a casual event; and, if you treat it as such, you are almost guaranteed to have a very enjoyable time.
Plus, the stadium’s small capacity means that parking before the game and getting home after the game are both relatively easy. I’ve never gotten to the parking lot more than 45 minutes before a game, and I’ve never not been in my seat for the first pitch. I typically stay for the last pitch as well, and even then I don’t have a problem getting out of the parking lot and off of the peninsula.
5 Tips for Attending a Charleston RiverDogs Game
Having attended several RiverDogs games, I can offer some suggestions for getting the most out of your trip to the Joe (and getting the best bang for your buck when it comes to buying tickets). Here are five tips to keep in mind if you are planning to watch a game this season:
1. Spring and Fall are the Best Times to Go
As with most outdoor activities in the Charleston area, spring and fall are the best times to attend a RiverDogs game, in my opinion. At the height of summer, it can be hot—sometimes even uncomfortably so—sitting in the stands. During the first and last months of the season, the cooler temperatures make for a much more enjoyable experience.
2. Don’t Bother Being Picky About Your Seats
All of the seats at the Joe are good. So, while you can pay more if you want to, you can also buy a General Admission ticket for $8 and be well within shouting distance of the field. If you get to the stadium about 20 to 30 minutes before game time, you should be able to sit in the front row of the General Admission section for most games.
3. If You Sit in the East Stands, Bring Sunglasses or a Hat (or Both)
If you sit in the East Stands (which is where the General Admission section is located), you’ll want to bring sunglasses or a hat (or both). While you’ll have a great view of the sunset behind the outfield fence, you’ll also have the sun in your eyes for at least the first few innings.
4. Get Your Food, Drinks, and Ice Cream Early
As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to get your food, drinks, and ice cream early. Not only do popular items often sell out, but the lines for the concession stands can get pretty long during the game. If you’re planning to eat dinner at your seats and then go back for ice cream, you should be prepared to spend at least an inning waiting in line.
5. Stay to the End of the Game
Since it’s so easy to get in and out of the stadium, there is no need to leave before the end of the final inning. Plus, there are often fan appreciation events after the games. Among others, these include fireworks and TP Nights, when fans “receive a roll of toilet paper as soon as the final out is recorded [and then get to] treat the ballpark like your high school math teacher's house.”
The Basics: RiverDogs Bag Policy, Parking, Ticket Prices, and More
Parking: The main parking lot for Charleston RiverDogs games is the MUSC Hagood Lot located at 333 Fishburne Street. Parking is typically $5.
Ticket Prices: Ticket prices for Charleston RiverDogs games range from $8 for General Admission to about $115 for box seats. Front-row seats around the infield are $18 to $20 for most games.
Timing: To get your food and drinks and be in your seats before the first pitch, plan to get to the Joe about 45 minutes before game time.
RiverDogs Bag Policy: Under the RiverDogs Bag Policy, only small purses, medical bags, and diaper bags are allowed in the stadium during games. While this is referred to as the Joe's "No Bag" Policy, these specific types of bags are permitted.
Promotions: The Charleston RiverDogs offer various promotions throughout the year. You can learn about the promotions scheduled for each game on the team’s ticketing website.
Food and Drink: Unlike the Charleston Battery stadium at Patriots Point (which hosts food trucks for every game), the Joe serves traditional stadium fare. Burgers, fries, pretzels, and ice cream are available at various concession stands around the stadium, and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are available. The stadium has two bars that are open to all fans, including a bar at the end of the east stands that has a view of the field.
Getting Home: Getting home after the game is easy. If you park in the main parking lot, there will be police directing traffic to help you get to your car and get back on the road. Only rarely are there significant backups beyond Brittlebank Park.
FAQs: Going to a Charleston RiverDogs Game
When is the Charleston RiverDogs’ Season?
The Charleston RiverDogs’ season runs from early April through early September. If they make the MiLB playoffs, playoff games take place through September into early October. Since it can get hot during the summer months in Charleston, the early games in April are a great choice for fans and families who prefer not to spend a few hours sitting in the summer heat.
Will You See Bill Murray at the RiverDogs Stadium?
Bill Murray is perhaps Charleston’s most-famous resident, and he is known for casually showing up at various places around town. This includes Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park. Mr. Murray is a co-owner of the RiverDogs, and it isn’t unusual to see him at the stadium on game nights.
What Can I Bring to a RiverDogs Game?
The Charleston RiverDogs bag policy only allows small purses, medical bags, and diaper bags. Phones and cameras are permitted, and fans can bring blankets on cool nights. No outside foods or drinks are permitted, and smoking is prohibited at the Joe.
Where Do You Park for a RiverDogs Game?
The main parking lot for the Charleston RiverDogs stadium is the MUSC Hagood Lot located at 333 Fishburne Street. Parking here costs $5, which you can pay in advance or with a credit card upon arriving at the lot. When you get close to the stadium, there will be police officers guiding you to the appropriate parking lot entrance.
How Much are Tickets to a Charleston RiverDogs Game?
Tickets to Charleston RiverDogs games currently start at $8 for general admission and increase to more than $100 for box seats. However, since the stadium is small and there are no stands in the outfield, all of the seats in the stadium offer good views of the field. As long as you buy your tickets in time, you can get seats behind home plate for around $20 (plus fees).
Do Kids Get Into RiverDogs Games for Free?
No, kids do not get into Charleston RiverDogs games for free. All ticket prices are the same regardless of a fan’s age. However, for families who join the MUSC Children's Health Kids Club, membership includes free General Admission tickets for Sunday home games for children ages 12 and under.
How Big is the Charleston RiverDogs Stadium?
The Charleston RiverDogs’ stadium has a seating capacity of 6,000. Due to the stadium’s small size, getting into and out of the ballpark is relatively quick and easy for most games. The stadium’s small size also means that all seats offer a good view of the field, and the concession stands are never far away.
Can I Bring a Bag to a Charleston RiverDogs Game?
Only small purses, medical bags, and diaper bags are permitted at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park for Charleston RiverDogs games. If you bring a larger bag to the ticket gate, you may be asked to take your bag back to your vehicle before being granted entry to the stadium based on the RiverDogs bag policy. If you bring a permitted bag to the stadium, be prepared for a quick bag check at the gate.
Where Should I Sit at the RiverDogs’ Stadium?
All of the seats at the Joe offer a good view of the field. The cheapest seats at the stadium are in the General Admission section in the east stands—and these are plenty good for a casual night out with your friends, family, or significant other. Just keep in mind that you’ll be looking into the sun for a portion of the game, so you’ll want to bring a hat or sunglasses (or both). For a little over twice the price of a General Admission ticket, you can get a seat in the field-level section behind home plate.
Are Charleston RiverDogs Games Family-Friendly?
Yes, Charleston RiverDogs games are very family-friendly. The stadium and team make this a priority, with a Fan Code of Conduct that prohibits obscenities and nightly promotions that are fun for both kids and adults. Whether you live in Charleston or you are visiting on vacation, going to a RiverDogs game at the Joe is a great way to spend a memorable evening with your children.
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