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Official Review by Brian Wilmer, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
North Carolina A&T State University is a school loaded with history. Founded in 1891, the university has educated civil rights activists, actors, politicians, professional athletes, astronauts and more. Four A&T students, known as the Greensboro Four, participated in a sit-in at the Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro in 1960, an act that helped to desegregate the store and fuel the civil rights movement.
This is not to say that A&T has gone without its share of successes on the field. Aggie football won five Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championships between 1986 and 2003, and the program is returning to prominence after some recent struggles. The program's home, Aggie Stadium, opened in 1981. The facility replaced World War Memorial Stadium, and has undergone several upgrades and enlargements since its opening. The stadium now sits behind only BB&T Field at Wake Forest in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina, in terms of seating capacity.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Food options are not the most plentiful at Aggie Stadium, but you will at least not leave hungry. Fixed stands at either end of the concourse on the home side serve as the main points of sale, offering fish sandwiches ($6), chicken tenders and fries ($8), jumbo beef hot dogs ($4), french fries ($3 plain or $5 with chili and cheese) and nachos ($4). Beverages are Pepsi products, with sodas priced at $3 and water at $2.
There are also several stand-alone locations around the concourses, offering almost a fair-type feel. The primary stand-alone location on the home side offers popcorn ($3), pretzels ($3), peanuts ($2), cotton candy ($3), chips ($1) and candy ($2). Italian ice is available for those who have a bit of a sweet tooth, with seven flavors available for $4 (small) or $5 (large). Funnel cakes ($6) are also available at some of these stands.
The Lindsay Street entrance to the stadium brings fans to the home side of Aggie Stadium. A large, modern press box sits atop the home stands, and serves as a bit of a navigational beacon to locate those who are wearing the blue and gold with "The Lock". The press box also contains suite seating, with balconies overlooking the action. The stadium offers seating on three sides, with the Bryan Wellness Center behind the north end zone. The Bryan Center hosts the players' locker rooms, with an "Aggie Pride" statue located just outside the entrance to the players' facilities.
The same end zone features the AggieVision scoreboard. The scoreboard features video of the in-game action, commercials during stoppages and player calls to Aggie fans to make noise on third down. The Aggie public address announcer also gets in on the act from time to time, imploring "Aggie Nation" to get loud for the A&T defense. The scoreboard, designed to appear as though it is being held by the school's mascot, displays the current score of the game, time and timeouts remaining and which team currently possesses the ball. The down and distance are also shown, along with a quarter indicator and advertisements for local businesses. One of the blocks of pixels on the board was burned out on the night I attended, however, leaving a blank space in some of the video presentations.
The school's ROTC stands in the same end zone as the scoreboard, doing push-ups after every Aggie score. There is also a toy cannon fired after Aggie touchdowns, which can take you by surprise if you have never attended an A&T game. Once the blue and gold crosses the goal line, get ready for a loud blast.
The school features a bulldog-costumed mascot, who occasionally makes appearances to dance for the fans or say hello to children. The Aggie cheerleaders also perform routines throughout the game. The primary attraction to those in the stands, however, is the Blue & Gold Marching Machine, the university's band. The band plays throughout the game, with a special show at the half. This show is often introduced by a video feature, after which the band begins to play. As is often tradition at MEAC schools, many visiting bands also make the trip to Aggie Stadium, allowing fans to enjoy the Marching Machine, as well as the stylings of opposing bands. Be sure to come early, stay within earshot at the half and stay late, as the bands help keep the energy level high inside Aggie Stadium.
Aggie Stadium is located on the northern end of the NC A&T campus, which provides somewhat limited opportunities to explore the area. The school markets the area surrounding the stadium as the Game Zone, and it is likely best to stay in that area to enjoy good food, good people and the real atmosphere of an Aggie game. Should you choose to venture away from campus, many of the options are located over a mile away in downtown Greensboro (see the World War Memorial Stadium review for additional suggestions). There are numerous fast-food restaurants on Summit Avenue near the campus, should you wish to get a quick bite. Boss Hog's Bar-B-Que is located on East Bessemer Street, and is a favorite place of many of the locals to partake in some famous Carolina barbecue.
One word of advice - if you are going to a night game at Aggie Stadium, be sure to park on campus at Moore Gymnasium or the student union. There is a lot down the street outside World War Memorial Stadium, but the walk is somewhat long and not well-lit. I also saw multiple people identifying themselves as homeless begging students and other fans for money between the exit to the concourse and the main exit gates, so stay with the flow of traffic as the game ends. This would be a great opportunity for the university to keep an eye on those who enter the Game Zone area to ensure fan safety.
Aggie fans are among the most welcoming groups you will find in the MEAC. The fans are smart, friendly and love their university. A near-capacity crowd filled the stands on the night I attended, and many of them continued to voice their support until the final whistle. Though the video board and PA announcer often called on the crowd to make noise, these reminders were often unnecessary. A glance through the stands shows blue and gold throughout the seating bowl, offering A&T a nice home-field advantage.
One unfortunate situation I witnessed was that there were quite a few fans who seemed to only show up to hear the band's halftime show. The concourse at the half was filled with a number of those fans, who took some time to talk to their friends and stream for the exits shortly thereafter. There were still many fans in the stands cheering on their Aggies as they held on to win by a one-score margin, though it would be nice to see those fans who only want to see the band stay around to support the team. As the Aggies return to prominence on the gridiron, it would be great to see the stands stay packed from beginning to end.
Aggie Stadium is located just off US Highways 29, 70 and 220 north of Interstates 85 and 40 in Greensboro. Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTI) is located approximately 15 miles west of the university, and is served by many large carriers. The Greensboro Transit Authority also services the area, with a stop at Lindsay and Sullivan Streets, just outside the stadium.
As mentioned earlier, it is recommended to park at either Moore Gymnasium or the student union on campus. Either area offers free parking and a short walk to and from the stadium. This area is also well-lit for night games. If you attend a day game and don't mind a walk, there is also a lot at the World War Memorial Stadium, which is a half-mile west. This lot is also free.
If you are attending an Aggie game -- particularly an important game -- it is strongly recommended that you buy tickets online before the game. There are five ticket windows just outside the entrance to the Game Zone, and these windows have lines that back up and do not move too quickly. Ordering tickets online could save you as much as a half-hour in line.
The concourse on the home side also gets extremely crowded during halftime, creating very little room to move. Students congregate on the concourse and talk, and those who are not talking are waiting in relatively long lines to order food and drink. The lines for the bathrooms and concessions are virtually nonexistent at other times, though this will make you miss game action, as there is no view of the field from the concourse. The bathrooms are reasonably well-appointed, but more restrooms and concessions would be nice for larger crowds.
Tickets for Aggie home games are $25 for adults and $10 for children. This sounds -- and is, frankly -- somewhat expensive, but the going rate is on par with, or cheaper than, most of the other schools in the conference. The seats are general admission, so once you buy a ticket in a specific section, you can sit anywhere in that section. The university takes credit cards online or at the ticket windows, which is a nice convenience. However, it is strongly recommended to bring cash for concessions, just in case. The only time an ATM is available inside Aggie Stadium is for the Homecoming game.
An adult ticket, hot dog, soda and parking will cost $32, so two adults and two children can visit a game for $98. This is hardly a steal, but it is among the lower totals in the MEAC. The quality of football is improving by the year, and just like most other HBCU games, you are coming for the entire event, not just the action on the field.
The North Carolina A&T Bookstore sets up a tent on the concourse for each game. This allows fans to buy A&T gear at reasonable prices from a location just inside the stadium entry gates. This is a popular spot, as several fans were buying gear each time I walked by the tent.
The game I attended also featured a flea market-type series of tables selling products along the concourse. Everything from fraternity and sorority wear to hoodies and purses could be found at these tables. Though there can be occasional traffic jams at the tables as fans look at the items available for sale, this is a nice option.
North Carolina A&T's staff members also deserve special mention in this space. Every gameday employee with whom I came in contact was extremely nice and seemed genuinely appreciative to have fans attending a game at Aggie Stadium. The kindness displayed is a simple touch that requires no extra money, but rest assured that you will find nice staff members, whether you are buying a ticket, ordering concessions or asking a question.
Aggie Stadium is not Carter-Finley Stadium, but it does not try to be. The facility, as with the team that plays on its field, is making the necessary improvements to reach the level to which they aspire, and there is still room for growth. If you want to see a good level of competition on the field, outstanding bands and friendly people who appreciate their university, Aggie Stadium is certainly worth the trip.
Member Review by Pittsburgh75 on Dec 03, 2013
This is a top-notched facility for both football and track & field.
Member Review by captaggie on Dec 05, 2013
The flexibility to move between the stadium and tailgate areas during the game is a premium I enjoy.
Member Review by Aaron S. Terry on Jul 24, 2015
The fans really love their team, they cheer loudly and most of them sport team colors, so it is pretty intense even though they might not have the best team. The stadium itself is decent, but the neighborhood is a little questionable so be mindful.
Member Review by Rockshire on Oct 24, 2015
Inefficient and ill-staffed are the best descriptions I can think of for Aggie Stadium on their Homecoming Day 2015. We were in a line at 12 pm and did not get seated until 2pm. The entrance was staffed by two people for a crowd that extended for at least two blocks. There was no designated space for people and they all just jammed up together. Their were only two people taking tickets for this large crowd. When our turn came, the staffer took our ticket, did not scan the barcode and tore off the portion for us that designated our seats, once entering the stadium ares we went to Kobe entrance and then had to exit to get to a another entrance. At the second entrance they did I a bag check where as they did not at the first entrance.
2314 E Bessemer Ave
Greensboro, NC 27405
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